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Desi Dominates in Cork Dust Up! Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Championship Round Four Post Event Report

Written on 30th August 2016 by Andrew Bushe

Round four of the 2016 Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Rally Championship, the Jim Walsh Cork Forest Rally, run by the Cork Motor Club. Moonraker Rally winner- Desi Henry and Cork co-driver Liam Moynihan, in the 1600cc turbo-charged Skoda Fabia R5 took a convincing win in dry and dusty conditions, on what was hailed as another super event by the sixty-seven starters.


For County Antrim’s Desi Henry, the event got off to a perfect start opening out over nine seconds of a lead on stage one, from championship leader Michael Carbin who made a fine start in his Evo 4. Stage two was the long Mount Hilary test, and now the pattern began to emerge as former MK2 master Adrian Hetherington was to illustrate that he has adapted to the vageries of the four wheel drive Toyota Corolla WRC. He climbed into a second place, twelve seconds behind the flying Henry. Adrian would hold that position until the final special stage, when he picked up a puncture, driving on it for nine kilometres and surrendering the position to Patrick O’Brien in his Evo 9. Last year’s Valvoline Junior Champion had been suffering from a soft brake pedal, not ideal braking down from the high speed flat-out sections, but the Tyrone driver was delighted and much relieved to score this finish. Twenty seconds behind Hetherington, and claiming fourth was former champion Mick O’Brien after a promising showing in the Fiesta WRC.

As Desi Henry climbed further ahead, others fell by the wayside. At service Tipperary’s Pat O’Connell retired his Evo 9 from eighth place, and Omagh’s Mark Donnelly retired his S9 Impreza from fourth. Cathan McCourt who once again had started strongly in his Evo dropped from fifth to fifteenth on stage three, but was set to retire with mechanical issues on stage six. The other Mark Donnelly was scheduled to drive  Super 2000 Fiesta, but elected to run a class twenty Evo 9, and it was a good choice as he ended up fifth, just two seconds in front of Michael Carbin. Michael still maintains his overall Valvoline series points lead, from Macroom’s Ger Lucey who put his Evo 8 into eighth after a late charge up the leader-board.

The Valvoline two-wheel drive race proved an epic one! Shane McGirr had Toyota power back into his red Toyota Starlet was fastest on stage one, but the Fivemiletown driver slid off on stage two, going into a hedge and re-joining the stage with the help of a strong marshal!  County Down’s David Crossen now with Vauxhall power in his MK2 Escort held off McGirr’s advances, the gap just over three seconds starting the final stage. However McGirr and co-driver Marty McGarrity launched a grand attack on the Duhallow test, taking five seconds off Crossen to snatch victory. “I am delighted with ninth overall and first 2WD in Cork Forest Rally. Fantastic stages such a credit to the club and all the organising team. It's not often in Ireland we have an issue with dust but makes a pleasant change from the wind and rain” said Shane. Micky Conlon was third in another MK2 Escort despite a misfire and David Condell in his 2.4 example was fourth despite nursing a damaged drive-shaft on one stage. Seamus O’Connell was fourth after stage three, but retired at service due to an aggravated back injury, whilst Paul Fitzgerald’s fine run in his 1600cc Escort ended when the timing belt failed on his engine on the final test. John Gordon who had led the two wheel drive point’s race into this round popped a tyre off a rim on stage three, dropping him well down the order, but still finished first in class twelve.


Winner of the Kumho tyres Junior category, collecting two tyres from Ears Motorsport Ireland was Stephen Dickson with co-driver Tommy Hayes in the R2 Fiesta. Sperrin’s Junior winner Adam Bustard had led in his R2T Fiesta, until a light roll on stage five put the Castlederg driver over and out, whilst Derek Mackarel retired his Nova once again, with mechanical failure. Shane Kenneally in his MK2 Escort led the Valvoline registered Junior’s into the final stage, but a spirited effort by Stephen Dickson saw him clinch the prize by just nine seconds.

Other important class winners included Ruari Maguire in his Vauxhall Corsa, Paul McCann in his Escort Cosworth, and Ed Muldoon taking Group N, from Stephen Cullen and Conor McCourt third. The Jim Walsh Cork Forest Rally winners Desi Henry and Liam Moynihan however were delighted. “We had a great run” said Desi. “No real problems and we really enjoyed the stages.” Next up for the Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Rally Championship is the Lakeland Stages in Enniskillen on 3rd September.

2016 Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Rally Championship-
Round Four results:

1st    Desi Henry/Liam Moynihan        Skoda Fabia R5        34m57.4s        
2nd    Patrick O'Brien/Aine McGuigan        Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9    + 01:08.4    
3rd    Adrian Hetherington/Gary Nolan    Toyota Corolla WRC    + 01:10.6
4th    Michael O'Brien/Liam Brennan        Ford Fiesta WRC    + 01:32.8
5th    Mark Donnelly/Stephen O'Hanlon    Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9    + 01:53.4
6th    Michael Carbin/Darragh Kelly        Mitsubishi Lancer Evo4    + 01:55.4
7th    Martin Cairns/Gary McElhinney        Ford Fiesta WRC    + 02:22.9
8th    Ger Lucey/JJ Cremin            Mitsubishi Lancer Evo8    + 02:44.4
9th    Shane McGirr/Martin McGarrity        Toyota Starlet        + 02:51.8
10th    David Crossen/Chris McSherry        Ford Escort Mk2    + 02:54.2

Points after round four:

1st Michael Carbin              67
2nd Gerard Lucey               57
3rd Adrian Hetherington      50
4th Desi Henry                    43
5th Patrick O'Brien              42

2016 Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Rally Championship
Remaining Calendar:

Round 5: 3rd September - Lakeland Forest Stages Rally 
Round 6: 16th October - Limerick Forest Rally 
Round 7: 5th November - Glens of Antrim Forest Rally

For all the latest updates and more information of the Valvoline Irish National Forest Rally Championship please look us up on Facebook or Twitter and even more details are available on our dedicated website @  
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Official Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Rally Championship press release issued by Andrew Bushe Promotions
F: Andrew Bushe Promotions

Copyright free images please credit Lorcan Barron-

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