Round 3 of the 2014 Valvoline National Forest Rally Championship took place in Ballyvourney Sunday April 13th. A crisp dry morning greeted the 58 strong field as they embarked on the completely new format to the Moonraker rally. The Munster Car Club hosted event featured 6 stages (3 repeated) on the Cork/ Kerry county bounds in the Mullaghanish Mountain landscape.
Andrew Purcell/John Rafter (Evo 6) set the pace on the short opening stage “Gleanndave” 6 secs faster than top seeds Owen Murphy/ James O’Brien (Evo 9) who tied with round one winners Desi Henry/ Liam Moynihan in their new Evo 9. One sec adrift Pat O’Connell/ Mark Wiley (Evo 9) tied with Josh Moffett/ Jason McKenna (Evo 9) in fourth. Brendan Comiskey/ Ronan O’Kane held sixth a further second behind, they too had upgraded to an Evo 9.
Murphy/O’Brien were fastest on ss2 “Caherdowney” albeit 1 sec up on Purcell/ Rafter who suffered burst oil cooler pipe. Many drivers found the long 16 km stage very technical and struggled to get a rhythm, several reported brake problems due to the unrelenting terrain.
Murphy/ O’Brien were fastest again on ss3 “Derrenaing” where Andrew Purcell dropped 5 secs due to concerns about his engine. At service in Ballyvourney Owen Murphy tied with Andrew Purcell for the lead with Desi Henry 9 secs back in third. Josh Moffett held 4th, Pat O’Connell 5th, Brendan Comiskey 6th with local brothers Ger/ James Lucey up to 7th despite an overheating engine.
Shane McGirr/ Jackie Elliott (Starlet) led the 2WD category but needed to fit a replacement steering rack. The top drivers set a scintillating pace on ss4; Murphy was fastest on 2.41, Purcell second on 2.42 with Henry on 2.43. Stage 5 (the repeat of the mammoth “Caherdowney”) saw Owen Murphy set another FTD to hold a 12 sec lead going into the final stage. Desi Henry moved into second as Purcell dropped to third having lost 14 secs to the leaders. Moffett held 4th, O’Connell 5th, Comiskey maintained 6th a mere second up on Martin Cairns/ Ray Fitzpatrick in their state of the art Impreza S14 WRC.
Owen Murphy/ James O’Brien (Evo 9) emerged from the final stage un-scathed to claim a 15 sec victory. The Cork pairing have made a late but faultless start to their 2014 championship having missed the opening round. Desi Henry/ Liam Moynihan took second which keeps them top of the Valvoline points table. Andrew Purcell/ John Rafter had to settle for third as they lost time on the afternoon stages. Josh Moffett/ Jason McKenna were 4th and Pat O’Connell/ Mark Wiley completed the top 5. Taking 6th Martin Cairns/ Ray Fitzpatrick (Impreza WRC) got ahead of Comiskey/ O’Kane on the final stage. Niall Henry/ John Rowan (Evo 9) finished 8th, Ger/ James Lucey (Evo 8) slipped to 9th due to overheating and clutch problems. Monaghan crew Michael Carbin/ Stephen Thornton (Evo 4) completed the top ten. Daniel O’Brien/ Mark Glennerster (Focus WRC) stalled on the final stage which dropped them to 11th. Daniel Cronin/ Shane Buckley finished 12th on their first event in the BRC winning Evo 9. Marty McKenna/ Damien Fleming were 13th in a Mckinstry Motorsport Impreza WRC.
Just behind them; Shane McGirr/ Jackie Elliott (Starlet) took a start to finish 2WD victory to strengthen their resolve at the top of the “Valvoline” 2WD points. Runner up in the 2WD category; Dean Raftery/ Aileen Kelly (Fiesta) used the event as a shakedown for their up-coming BRC campaign. They increased their pace on the repeat loop closing to within 11 secs of McGirr having set a blistering time on the final stage. West Cork’s Conor McCarthy/ Dan O’Donovan (Civic) made it two in a row as they claimed the Junior spoils again to consolidate their Junior Championship lead.
Class 1 (1400cc): Johnny Kenneally/ Grace O’Brien (Escort).
Class 2 (1600 8v): Mike Garahy/ Paul Sheehan (Escort).
Class 3 (1600 16v): Dean Raftery/ Aileen Kelly (Fiesta R2).
Class 4 (2000 8v): Ray Benskin Jnr/ Nicky Hegarty (Escort).
Class 5A (2000 16v): Shane McGirr/Jackie Elliott (Starlet).
Class 5B (2100): Ollie Williams/ Mark Bowens (Escort).
Class 7 (WRC's): Martin Cairns/ Ray Fitzpatrick (Impreza).
Class 8 (Gp N): Josh Moffett/Jason McKenna (Evo 9).
Class 9 (Junior's): Conor McCarthy/Dan O’Donovan (Civic).
Class 20 (4WD): Brendan Comiskey/ Ronan O’Kane (Evo 9).
For Further Championship information visit: