The Glens of Antrim Forest Rally, the final round of the 2016 Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Rally Championship, and the pressure is on Desi Henry on his local event this Saturday as he tries to secure the Valvoline title. It’s been a great season for Desi and co-driver Liam Moynihan in the Skoda Fabia R5, and now just thirty-five miles of forest stages separate the Portglenone driver from the title. “We need to get to the finish somewhere in the top eight to ten for the championship. That’s the aim for the weekend, a steady run and not to worry about the battle for the rally itself” explained Desi. “It’s been an enjoyable year to date. There’s a friendly atmosphere with the the championship, and there’s always a race or two in the forests. It would mean a lot to secure the title, especially as in 2014 we lost out to Owen Murphy on a tie-break when we finished on the same points.”
Cork’s Ger Lucey in second is the main challenger in his Evo 8, but he will be fighting to retain that position as Monaghan charger Michael Carbin in the Evo 4 could still challenge. The impressive four wheel drive entry in the Glens is led away by Sam Moffett in his Fiesta R5, with Desi at number two, and Adrian Hetherington making a return at three in the Corolla WRC. Jonny Leonard, Niall Henry, Darren McKelvey and Cathan McCourt bolster a strong challenge from Mitsubishi Evo’s in the top ten. The Group N class has also to be decided between the Evo’s driven by Ashley Dickson and Ed Muldoon. The famous Slieveanorra and Ballypatrick stages are back on the menu for Saturday’s action, which starts from Ballycastle at 10.30am. Having not been rallied on much for several year’s due to restrictions, the six special stages could be tricky in places, an ideal challenge to round off the year.
The Valvoline two-wheel drive title battle Co.Down’s John Gordon, with his MK2 Escort leads on overall points, but when dropped scores are taken into account his position is not as favourable. “It’s going to be maximum attack for us!” John quipped. “We have nothing to lose, as we have class 12 wrapped up with the Pinto engine. For Limerick we had a 16 valve engine in the car, and it brought us closer to Shane on stages, but it’s essentially a learning exercise for 2017. However we will give it a go on Saturday.” Fivemiletown’s Shane McGirr in his nimble Toyota Starlet is more in the driving seat when dropped scores are accounted for. “I think we need to finish in the top four or five two wheel drives to score enough points to clinch the title. I think at that John would have a nine point score to drop and we would have a one point to drop then. We need to get it home, but it will be a tricky rally I think, slippery in places and quite technical” Comber’s David Crossen in third, and last year’s champion Mickey Conlan will also add to a magic 2wd entry with their MK2 Escort’s.
The rallytrader.ie/ Kumho tyres Junior category winner on the rally will receive two Kumho Tyres from Ears Motorsport Ireland, but the that coveted Billy Coleman Award nomination has already been decided as Shane Kenneally, assured of second place in the class is the first eligible competitor, after a good season in his MK2 Escort. Stephen Dickson in the R2 Fiesta leads the class but is not eligible for the Coleman Award, but he’s suffering from a twisted ankle and unsure of making the start. Derek Mackeral in his Vauxhall Nova will be out for a class win and it’s worth-while considering that there is also a wild-card nomination for the Coleman Award to consider. Once again there’s a lot that can happen in the final Valvoline round.
Points after round six:
1st Desi Henry 81
2nd Ger Lucey 74
3rd Michael Carbin 69
4th John Gordon 69
5th Shane McGirr 65
2016 Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Rally Championship Remaining Calendar:
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 our dedicated website; www.irishforestrally.com
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Official Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Rally Championship press release issued by Andrew Bushe Promotions F: Andrew Bushe Promotions t-@andrew_bushe. Images thanks to www.barronpix.com