The Valvoline Irish Forest Rally Championship was due to start this year in Donegal on January 31st, but exceptionally snowy conditions meant that the Donegal Motor Club had to make the difficult call to cancel the event in the interests of safety. It wasn’t an easy call, especially after all the hard work the club put in, but now the event has been rescheduled to the 21st March, which means all the hard work was not in vain.
The On the Limit Sport cameras will be rolling to record what now will be the first counting round- the Carrick on Suir Motor Club’s Willie Loughman Forest Rally on March 1st. Six stages, three stages repeated over sixty-four gravel kilometres make up the event, with a mid-event service. Clerk of the course Barry Duggan has been busy checking the stages in the Suir valley, and with entries closing this Friday excitement is building! It’s an event with some history, being the longest running forestry rally in Ireland, having started in the late 1960’s.
Expected to among the pace-setters are the Moffett brother’s from Monaghan. They will be swapping their Fiesta WRC’s for Mitsubishi Evo 9’s with Josh using a Group A version and older brother Sam in his Group N machine. Desi Henry, winner of the final 2014 championship round in the Antrim forests is also mounting a full attack in another Group A Evo 9, with brother Niall making it another two car team. The combination of Andrew Purcell with Liam Brennan co-driving, in yet another Evo 9 is expected to be a real contender, especially as this is very much a home event for Andrew.
World Rally Cars entries are expected to include Martin Cairns in his S14 Impreza, and the 2013 Valvoline Irish Forest Rally Champion- Mick O’Brien in a Ford Focus WRC. In the coveted Valvoline Two Wheel Drive section, James Coleman in his 2.5 Escort will be one to watch, whilst Castleblayney’s Mickey Conlon is all set for a full title attack, as is his two litre rival David Crossen from County Down in another MK2 Escort.
There is a real added incentive for the Junior competitors in this year’s series, with Ears Motorsport Ireland now putting up a prize of two Kumho gravel tyres for the first registered Junior home on each event, to be used on the next round. David Moynihan from Ears is very much behind the forestry championship. “I think that the championship is making strides forward, and it’s looking very interesting this year. I believe that the Junior’s should be learning how to drive on gravel if they wish to progress further up the rallying ladder and we feel that the championship deserves support” said David. With an automatic Billy Coleman Award nomination for the Junior champion, there is a lot to gain for these under 26 year olds in their up to 1650cc two wheel drive cars.
Hopefully this time the sideways action on the gravel on March 1st will kick start one of the most exciting Irish Forest Rally Championship’s to date.
2015 Valvoline Irish Forest Rally Calendar
Round 1 - Willie Loughman Carrick on Suir Forest Rally (1st March)
Round 2 - Donegal Forest Rally (21st March)
Round 3 - Munster CC Moonraker Forest Rally (12th April)
Round 4 - Jim Walsh Cork Forest Rally (23rd August)
Round 5 - Enniskillen Lakelands Forest Rally (5th September)
Round 6 - Mayo Forest Rally (18th October)
Round 7 - Glens of Antrim Forest Rally (7th November)
For more information including registration details for the series visit- www.irishforestrally.com
Press Release issued by Andrew Bushe Promotions- www.andrewbushe.com
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