Eves Claims Maximum Motorsport Ireland Junior Rally Series Points in Tipperary
After an extended break following the postponement of the Moonraker Forest Rally, it was an incredibly challenging day, aided by mixed conditions, back behind the wheel for Irelands leading Junior Rally Drivers that centred around the Cahir-based Sean Conlon Tipperary Forest Rally. Last Sunday will be remembered fondly by both Dylan Eves and Tommy Moffett, as they both claimed maximum points in their respective 2023 Motorsport Ireland Junior Rally Series classes.
Ireland’s National Mix-Surface Rally Series, the MIJRS is quickly becoming a vital step in the development of a host of upcoming and exciting Irish rallying talent and already this season its clear just how close and enthralling the battles are set to be for the 2023 crown with now that we’ve seen the opening rounds on both Gravel and Tar.
In the chase for victory in the Rally4/R2 class and the prize fund that will not only see the winner receive a Training & Coaching program to the value of €15,000 through the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy, but they will also receive a nomination for the 2023 Billy Coleman Award, the stakes were clearly to see as a bumper field left for the opening Goatenbridge stage.
As the times filtered through, it would be Donegal’s Dylan Eves who would go fastest in his Ford Fiesta Rally4, 3.8 seconds quicker than Conor Wilson who was very impressive in a similar machine. Casey Jay Coleman, making the switch to a Peugeot 208 Rally4 for the weekend, would lie third. The second stage would see the Eves and Coleman get a nominal time, but another fastest Stage Time over the 9.55km Ballydrehid test had Eves returning to mid-day service with a 12.2 second advantage over Wilson. It would be on Stage 3 that we would lose Dan Nash, retiring his Ford Fiesta in what was widely discussed as being the most challenging test of the day, while current Championship leader Casey Jay Coleman would retire on the second running of the stage.
In a dominant performance that is sure to garner much attention, Eves would return to Cahir having claimed the fastest time in the class on three of the Tipperary Forest Rally’s four special stages which ran without interruption, and with it claimed a debut MIJRS Rally4/R2 Round Victory by 26 seconds over Conor Wilson. Behind Wilson, yet another driver impressing throughout the day was Cian Caldwell, with a 3rd place finish and a fastest stage time plenty of positives to reflect upon during the quick turnaround time to Round 4.
In the Junior 1000 Class, a lot of talk around before the event had been focused on the task some of the drivers faced in trying to catch Jack Kennedy following a dominant display on the Season opener in Killarney, and the die looked cast early on when the youngsters VW Up! Emerged from Stage 1 with a lead of 9.3 seconds and another fastest time on the second test, but unfortunately for Kennedy the Championship was set to take a massive swing when he slid off the road on Stage 3. At the midway halt, just 4 seconds would separate Tommy Moffett, now leading the event, and Jack Harris. The chatter amongst the youngsters seemed friendly, but deep down both knew they needed to push to maximise their point scoring. Sadly, the battle would never get an opportunity to materialise, as Harris would slide off the road on Stage 4, allowing Moffett to reel off three fastest stage times in a row and return to Cahir victorious.
Sharing the podium were Ross Ryan and Tommy Cronin, the latter having overcome a 10 second gap between the pair at Service to claim 2nd Place by 9.8 Seconds, although Ryan was a very relieved young man at the podium having survived a major scare after the flying finish which nearly had an incredible days driving lost in a split second. Behind the leading trio, Kalum Graffin once more delivered a great result finishing 4th, ahead of Conor Ryan and Charlie Browne, while there were also great performances and a lot of great positives taken from the day by David Travers, Aaron Hughes, Tommy Furlong, Ciara Duggan and Ger Hartigan.
Elsewhere, it was yet another day of learning, development and valuable seat time as the 2022 MIJRS J1000 Champion Jack Brennan scored yet another victory in the Rally5 Class in his Renault Clio. The youngster had spent time between rounds 2 & 3 completing a strong testing regime which will be invaluable on future Gravel rounds in the series, while his strong performances on sealed surface events so far this year are an exciting thing to watch.
The focus for the 2023 Motorsport Ireland Junior Rally Series switches back to real high speed Tarmac lanes for Round 4, the Cavan Stages Rally in just over a weeks’ time on May 28th. The event is always a favourite on the calendar, and it will see all of our classes except the J1000’s do battle on the event, as the sports youngest talent return to action on Round 5, the rescheduled Moonraker Forest Rally, on June 25th.
Header Image: Dylan Eves claims first MIJRS Round Victory on Tipp Forest. Pic by Cian Donnellan