For Immediate Release: 8th November 2015
The seventh and final round of the 2015 Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forestry Championship was played out on the Mid-Antrim Motor Club’s Glens of Antrim event, utilising the famous Cam and Springwell forest stages, two of the finest forestry stages on the map, and these repeated three times made up the event.
The overall title race was the talking point, and although Mick O’Brien looked to have the overall advantage in his Focus WRC, Evo 9 mounted Josh Moffett was leading on dropped scores, and all the scenarios were being played out. If Mick took top points and another registered crew finished in between him and Josh, they would have tied on wins, second and thirds, for example. At one point it looked as if the championship was heading in Mick’s direction, as Josh arrived just in time for the start and not his usual self, not surprising as he had just attended his grand-mother’s funeral the previous day. Indeed it was a steady start for him on the first Springwell test, as Mick O’Brien on his first visit to these forests took a fabulous second fastest time behind last year’s winner Desi Henry in his WRC Impreza
Desi led into first service, but on stage three- Mark Donnelly in his S10 Impreza took a lead he was never to lose, and Desi clouted the Impreza on stage four retiring in service with a broken wish-bone and no spare. Mick O’Brien and co-driver Liam Brennan were left in second with Josh now fourth, second points scorer and no other registered crews able to challenge. “I’m enjoying the stages” said Mick “It has started well- all I can do is what I can do- it’s down to fate.” However Josh has his own worries, a rear wheel puncture, four miles from the end of stage four, the culprit being a wheel that had alarmingly broken in half! “I’m getting into it a bit better now, I couldn’t get into it earlier this morning” Josh said amidst the heavy rain at service.
In the Junior category Patrick O’Brien and Aine McGuigan had much to celebrate as they took victory and two Kumho Tyres from Ears Motorsport, but even more importantly the Valvoline Junior title, earning that coveted Billy Coleman Award nomination. Alan Moran was a spirited second on the event, and in the final points standings with both Derek Mackarel and Ian Downey failing to make the finish, as the wet conditions made the forests tough going.
The two-wheel race was epic, and Adrian Hetherington came through to take the honours after a slow start, with ninth placed Shane McGirr and Jackie Elliott the top Valvoline crew in the little Starlet, finishing just 0.2 of a second ahead of Frank Kelly. Indeed their friend Frank had actually kept them in the rally, lending parts to fix an ailing back axle at the first service. There’s always great camaraderie amongst the modified’s! Valvoline 2wd Champion- Mickey Conlon was a retirement on the final loop, whilst John Gordon’s seventeenth place sealed class 12 in the championship from Hugh McQuaid who was just three places behind.
Sadly about to modify the front corner of his Focus WRC was Mick O’Brien, who has having an epic first visit to the rally. Just two miles from the end of the final stage it was all over. “I was going to try and make a fastest time on the final stage, we had nothing to lose. It was a third gear corner. I just ran a bit wide, mounted a bank, but there was something solid in there, and I took a corner off. That’s it, that’s fate- it wasn’t to be” said a still spirited championship runner up.
For Mark Donnelly and Barry McNulty it was an excellent victory, from the S14 Impreza’s of Martin Cairns and a late charging Kenny McKinstry. Niall Henry took a fine fifth on his second event in an Evo 10, which he liking very much, whilst Michael Carbin’s Evo 4 took sixth, despite early brake worries. Darren McKelvey’s seventh place was welcome after a run of bad fortune, and Gerard Lucey’s fourteenth place helped him to secure third in the series. The big winners of the day however, were Josh Moffett and Jason McKenna in fourth. “It’s been tough today” said Josh “and I feel sorry for Mick going out on the last stage. It’s great to win this championship however, it means a lot, and a big thanks to Jason, Gerry and the team.”
2015 Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forestry Rally Championship - Round Seven
1st Mark Donnelly / Barry McNulty Subaru Impreza S10 39:39.3
2nd Martin Cairns / Gary McElhinney Subaru Impreza S14 +1:15.3
3rd Kenny McKinstry / Noel Orr Subaru Impreza S14 +1:29.0
4th Josh Moffett / Jason McKenna Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +1:29.1
5th Niall Henry / Damian Duffin Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10 +2:20.1
6th Michael Carbin / Darragh Kelly Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IV +2:33.3
7th Darren McKelvey / Denver Rafferty Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +2:51.6
8th Adrian Hetherington / Cathal Mulgrew Ford Escort MkII +2:58.9
9th Shane McGirr / Jackie Elliott Toyota Starlet +3:02.8
10th Frank Kelly / Lauren Kelly Ford Escort MkII +3:03.0
Provisional Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forestry Rally Championship Final Points: (Best 5 scores from 7 rounds)
1 Josh Moffett 101 pts
2 Michael O’Brien 95
3 Gerard Lucey 79
4 Michael Conlon 78
5 John Gordon 72
6 Niall Henry 71
7 Andrew Fanning 57
8 Hugh McQuaid 56
9 Patrick O’Brien 54
10 Damien McGuran 52
Valvoline Junior Championship
1 Patrick O’Brien 53
2 Alan Moran 48
3 Derek Mackarel 38
4 Ian Downey 29
5 Dylan Curley 26
For more information including registration details for the series visit - www.irishforestrally.com
Facebook: Irish Forestry Championship
Official Press Release issued by Andrew Bushe Promotions-
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