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Moffett/ McKenna Claim Maiden Victory

Written on 13th October 2014 by Greg Shinnors

The Willie Loughman Memorial Carrick Forest Rally was held in the Suir Valley on Sunday October 12th.  The event was the penultimate round of the 2014 Valvoline Forest Rally Championship and has the prestige of being the longest running gravel rally in Ireland.  Organized by Carrick on Suir Motor Club with Barry Duggan at the helm the rally offered 6 classic stages (3 repeated) including Gurteen, Slievenamon and Anner.  Dense fog loomed in the Suir Valley Sunday morning but lifted off the woods before the first stage in the vast Gurteen forest near Kilshelan village.    The opening 13km stage was slippy in places with several shaded sections and varied surface changes.  Andrew Purcell (Evo 6) was quickest out of the blocks, throwing caution to the conditions to set time of 8.01.0.  Owen Murphy (Evo 9) trailed by 2.3 secs with Josh Moffett (Evo 9) a further 7.5 secs back in third.  Desi Henry (Evo 9) held fourth 2.1 secs off Moffett.  Niall Henry (Evo 9) held 5th and led GpN.  Sam Moffett (Evo 9) was 6th, Lucey brother’s Ger/ James (Evo 8) were 7th.  Shane McGirr held 8th and led the 2WD contingent despite finding the bumps hard going in his Starlet.  Micky Conlon (Mk2) was only 1.9 secs behind having sustained a puncture.  Liam Regan (206) completed the top ten but struggled for grip.  John Reid’s Corolla WRC broke a front strut on route to stage 1 and Marty McKenna’s Impreza WRC was filling with smoke.   Andrew Purcell lost approx 13 secs on ss2 “Slievenmon” due to an overshoot and stall at a hairpin dropping him to third.  Josh Moffett set FTD to hold second overall.  Owen Murphy was third fastest but did enough to move into a 3.5sec lead.  Desi Henry was second fastest to hold station in fourth. Sam Moffett held 5th, 25 secs adrift of fourth but had secured the Gp N lead ahead of 6th placed Niall Henry.  Shane McGirr in 7th maintained the 2WD lead, Liam Regan held 8th, Micky Conlon 9th and Ger Lucey rounded off the top ten.  Purcell set FTD on the new “Anner” format (ss3) with Josh Moffett only 0.6 secs back.  Desi Henry was third fastest only 0.2 secs off Josh.  Murphy survived a big drama with brake failure and was lucky to only damage the co driver’s door.    Owen Murphy held the lead at service following the first loop.  However the pace was tight with just 7.7 secs between the top four.  Moffett held second, 2.4 secs off the leaders.  Purcell was a further 2.6 secs back in third with Desi maintaining fourth 2.7 secs off Purcell.  Sam Moffett held 5th, Niall Henry 6th, Shane McGirr 7th, Ger Lucey 8th, Liam Regan 9th and Micky Conlon 10th.  Conor McCarthy (Civic) led the Juniors as main rival Shane Kenneally was a non-starter and David Beamish/ Muireann Hayes (Nova) retired on ss1 with gear linkage trouble.  Alan Atcheson (Mk2) dominated class 4 while Allen Treacy (Corolla) held a 5 sec lead in class 3 over Douglas Stewart (206).   Josh Moffett and Desi Henry tied on 7.46 through ss4 (Gurteen) – the pace had gone up a gear as times were 15 secs quicker than the first run.  Josh took the lead as Murphy dropped to second.  The Cork man was 4.6 secs off the pace and now trailed Moffett by 2 secs.  Desi moved up one place to third – 5.3 secs off Murphy.  Andrew Purcell slipped to fourth a further 2.3 secs back.  Ger Lucey lost over 3 mins but was still going.   Andrew Purcell made amends on the repeat of Slievenmon (ss5) setting FTD but did not improve his overall position. Murphy was second fastest 1 sec up on Moffett.  The latter’s advantage now only 1 sec going into the final stage.  Desi Henry was third fastest, maintained third overall and was only 3 secs off Murphy.   Purcell held fourth only 2 secs off Desi.  Marty McKenna set a good time elevating them up the leader-board to 10th.   The final stage “Anner” was host to an epic finale with less than 6 secs dividing the top four.  Josh Moffett/ Jason McKenna did the business on the final stage – blitzing the 8km test to win the rally.  This was their maiden victory having come so close on recent events. The Monaghan pair held it together when the pressure was on and maintain the Championship lead going into the final round.  Desi Henry/ Liam Moynihan charged through the final stage, a mere 0.7 sec off Moffett and leap-frogged to second overall only 5 secs off the winners following the six stages.  They can still take the title on the final round (The Glens of Antrim Nov 8th).  Owen Murphy/ James O’Brien dropped to third on the final stage albeit 2.8 secs behind but had no answer for the pace of Moffett and Henry over Anner.  However Murphy/O’Brien are still very much in the reckoning and can take the title on the final round.  Andrew Purcell/ John Rafter had to settle for fourth and will be lamenting that second stage overshoot which cost them dearly.    Sam Moffett/ Karl Athkinson claimed 5th and took the Gp N spoils.  Niall Henry/ John Rowan were 6th and runner up in Gp N.  Shane McGirr/ Jackie Elliott (Starlet) led the 2WD’s from start to finish and claimed 7th overall.  Liam Regan/ Niall Burns took 8th, Micky Conlon/ Ciaran McPhillips took 9thand Marty McKenna/ Martin McGarrity completed the top ten.  West Cork’s Conor McCarthy/ Dan O’Donovan (Civic) took the Junior laurels on the day even better was the fact they clinched the 2014 Valvoline Junior Forest Championship title.   Class Winners Class 1 (1400cc): Johnny Kenneally/ Grace O’Brien (Escort). Class 2 (1600 8v): Niall/ Gary Fitzpatrick (Escort). Class 3 (1600 16v): Allen Treacy/ Brian O’Keeffe (Corolla). Class 4 (2000 8v): Alan Atcheson/ Thomas Wedlock (Escort). Class 5A (2000 16v): Damien/ Thomas McGauran (Corolla). Class 5B (2100): Shane McGirr/ Jackie Elliott (Starlet). Class 6 (Gp A): Martin/ Declan Tynan (Evo 8). Class 7 (WRC's): Marty McKenna/ Martin McGarrity (Impreza).  Class 8 (Gp N): Sam Moffett/ Karl Athkinson (Evo 9). Class 9 (Junior's): Conor McCarthy/ Dan O’Donovan (Civic).  Class 20 (4WD): Andrew Purcell/ John Rafter (Evo 6).       Ends.   For Further Championship information visit:       Greg Shinnors, Championship PRO. 00 353 87 2691975

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