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Desi's "Fabiaous" Moonraker Magic! (Moonraker Report)

Written on 22nd April 2016 by Andrew Bushe

Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Championship Round Two


Round two of the 2016 Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Rally Championship, the Moonraker Forest Rally, run by the Munster Motor Club saw a magnificent eight-two cars start from Ballyvourney, for this eight stage event. It was an event very much enjoyed by the crews, with the fast, flowing stages in fabulous shape.


From the outset, it was County Antrim’s Desi Henry, with Cork co-driver Liam Moynihan who set the pace in their Skoda Fabia R5. The car hasn’t been the luckiest for Desi so far, with retirements in Galway and on the Circuit of Ireland, but the Moonraker was to witness a change in fortune. Initially just 0.6 of a second behind on stage one, reigning Valvoline Champion- Josh Moffett in his Evo 9 was the big challenge, but on stage two he dropped a minute, sliding off the road, and then running into mechanical trouble, his challenge soon over. Ger Lucey in his Evo 8 then slotted into an impressive second, despite losing time behind Josh, and another in trouble was Liam Ryan, fifth in stage one, but falling victim to the second test. Former forestry champion Pat O’Connell was a fine third at this point, with Brendan Cumiskey in his R5 Fiesta close behind, and Cathan McCourt fifth. Back in ninth was championship leader Patrick O’Brien who was struggling for gears in his Evo 9, and was soon to be struggling for brakes with the pedal going to the floor. Indeed the championship situation is now completely altered as the Tyrone driver pulled into retirement on stage six.


At the front Desi Henry streaked away, fastest on all eight stages to take a landmark victory. “We got a new set up from Skoda for the gravel and it worked well from the offset” said the Portglenone driver.” The car never missed a beat all day and the stages were smooth, fast and very enjoyable. It was one of the best rallies you would get in Ireland. It was a good test also for the BRC Pirelli Rally, and if we come home from that in one piece we will contest the Tour of the Sperrins, which is a local event to us. The Irish Forest series is a great championship, and we will see rally by rally how we get on with the other series as to whether we can contest the remaining rounds. Hopefully the Moonraker is the start of a change of fortune this year after a mixed start to the rally season.”

The battle for second was really one to watch as Tipperary’s Pat O’Connell moved ahead of Ger Lucey after increasing the pace on stages four and five. Another driver upping the pace was Brendan Cumiskey, revelling in the handling of his new R5 Fiesta, moving into third after stage six, and just five seconds back from O’Connell. Despite a last ditch attempt for second, it was third for Brendan just an incredible 0.1 of a second back! This forest rallying is close, and Ger Lucey’s fine run in the older car netted fourth, moving into the Valvoline series lead. County Tyrone’s Darren McKelvey had an excellent showing in fifth, with Niall Henry less than two seconds behind, making it a great success for the team. Seventh after a steady start was Adrian Hetherington getting used to his newly acquired Toyota Corolla WRC. There was still a Moffett in the top ten as Josh’s father Robert claimed eighth on his enjoyable return to rallying after many years absence. Tenth after a few early issues was Michael Carbin in his venerable Evo 4. Group N was won by Stephen Cullen’s Impreza in nineteenth overall from a delighted Ed Muldoon in his Evo, twentieth and Ashley Dickson, twenty-first, and third in the category.


The two-wheel drive race was expected to be waged between the Escort’s and the Starlet of Shane McGirr, but the Starlet was a non-starter and Killarney’s Rob Duggan in his front wheel drive Peugeot 208 R2 was to really put the cat amongst the pigeons. Using the event partly as a gravel test before the BRC Pirelli Rally, he finished a fantastic ninth overall and first two-wheel drive in the 1600cc machine. Over half a minute behind in twelfth place was reigning Valvoline two wheel drive champion- Micky Conlon. “I felt that I wasn’t quite on it all day” explained the Escort driver “even after I recharged with a cup of tea at service! Nevertheless it was a good finish and fair play to Rob in front and John  behind us.” Indeed first in class 12 again was John Gordon in his MK2, coming in thirteenth overall, twenty one seconds behind Conlon. Damien McGauran in his rear wheel drive Corolla was next of the rear wheel drive runners, just 0.3 of a second ahead of the Escort of David Crossen who recovered from a stage four spin.

David Condell had been third in the two wheel drive race behind Conlon, until he went off in stage six losing over a minute, damaging the front and rear corners of the MK2. Another top two wheel drive casualty was Hugh McQuaid who ended up on the back of a tow rope on the first loop.

Winner of the Kumho tyres Junior category, collecting two tyres from Ears Motorsport Ireland was Alan Moran with his Peugeot 206 Cup Car. Alan was in fine form, just one second behind round one winner Derek Mackeral on stage one, before Mackeral’s Nova succumbed to cam-belt failure on stage the second test. Shane Kenneally, second on round one also hit trouble, his MK2 Escort breaking a throttle cable in stage four. A dominant Moran took a fine win from Stephen Dickson who was loving his Fiesta in the Cork forests and getting faster with every mile. James Driver in his Ka just piped Aaron Watters in his Civic to claim third.


Other important class winners were:
Class 3-Emmett Lyons (Honda Integra),
Class 4-Stephen Cullen- (Subaru Impreza),
Class 6- Danny Creedon- (Subaru Impreza)
Class 9- Colm Kearns (MK2 Escort),
Class 10-David Beamish (Opel Corsa),
Class 11F-James Lucey- (Honda Civic),
Class 11R- Jason Walsh (Ford Escort).

The championship race is now very open and interesting and on round three on May 7th, the crews will join the Northern Ireland Championship runners for the Tour of the Sperrins, which is back on gravel again.


2016 Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Rally Championship
Round Two results:

1 Desi Henry / Liam Moynihan - Skoda Fabia R5                       39:33.2                 

2 Pat O'Connell / Mark Wiley - Mitsubishi Evo 9                         +1:27.1

3 Brendan Cumiskey / Ronan O'Kane - Ford Fiesta R5             +1.27.2

4 Gerard Lucey / JJ Cremin - Mitsubishi Evo 8                           +1.50.0

5 Darren McKelvey / Graham Henderson - Mitsubishi Evo 9      +2:12.5

6 Niall Henry / John Rowan - Mitsubishi Evo 10                           +2:14.2

7 Adrian Hetherington / Gary Nolan - Toyota Corolla WRC          +2:27.9

8 Robert Moffett / Emmett Sherry - Ford Fiesta WRC                   +2:28.3

9 Rob Duggan / Tara Duggan - Peugeot 208 R2                            +2:36.0

10 Michael Carbin / Darragh Kelly - Mitsubishi Evo 4                     +2:46.5


Points after round two:

1 Gerard Lucey 34

2 Michael Carbin 31

3 Adrian Hetherington 30
4 John Gordon 24
5 Micky Conlon 24
6 Patrick O'Brien 22

7 Desi Henry 21
8 Robert Moffett 20
9 Pat O’Connell 19
10 Liam Ryan 19


2016 Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Rally Championship
Remaining Calendar:

Round 3: 7th May - Tour of the Sperrins Forest Rally
Round 4: 14th August - Jim Walsh Memorial Cork Forest Rally
Round 5: 3rd September - Lakeland Forest Stages Rally
Round 6: 16th October - Mayo Forest Stages 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 @ 
F: Irish Forestry Championship


Official Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Rally Championship press release issued by Andrew Bushe Promotions F: Andrew Bushe Promotions t-@andrew_bushe. Copyright free images please credit

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