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Moffett’s Family Tie on Lakeland Stages Rally! Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Championship Round Five

Written on 16th October 2016 by Andrew Bushe

 Whilst many predicted a close race on the Lakeland Stages Rally- round five of the 2016 Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Rally Championship, noboby anticipated a tie on time after the eight fabulous forestry stages laid on by the Enniskillen Motor Club, or that it would be between two brothers, Sam Moffett in his Fiesta WRC, and Josh in his Fiesta R5. Indeed the tie-break was decided in Sam’s favour. “I was quite nervous on the last stage and he took four back off me” said Sam at the finish whilst Josh who took maximum Valvoline points for second place was happy. “A tie on time- I’ll take that over just coming second!”. The Moffett brother’s pace had been impressive all day, reporting no problems and finishing ahead of third placed Mark Donnelly who had challenged them over the first two tests, before picking up two punctures on the next two stages.

Desi Henry’s drive to fourth didn’t tell the full story, as it was a great come-back drive. “We hit a jump hard on stage three- she landed on her nose and the turbo pipe was dislodged” The incident had dropped him from third to twelfth, but he climbed back to fourth, taking an important second place in the Valvoline points.  Series leader after four rounds was Monaghan’s Michael Carbin in his Mitsubishi Evo 4, whose aim was to try to keep ahead of Patrick O’Brien and by first service that was the case as O’Brien slid his Evo 9 off the road after a crest on stage four. “We actually stopped to see if they were ok” said Carbin “but thankfully all was ok. We are struggling ourselves a little on the fast bumps on the long third stage.” Carbin lay eighth, and set to scoop the points, until he himself fell victim of the Fermanagh forests, sliding off on a slow corner on the penultimate stage. And he wasn’t alone as Adrian Hetherington lying an impressive fourth in the Corolla WRC slid off and got stuck on the final corner of that stage, whilst the other Mark Donnelly back in his Fiesta Super 2000 broke a shock and retired after the stage.

Niall McCullagh took fifth in his hired S14 Impreza, ahead of Martin Cairns who initially found his Fiesta WRC difficult to handle on the stages. For Jonny Leonard and Jackie Elliott in the Evo 6, seventh place brought the added bonus of third placed Valvoline points, and they were the top local crew despite a few niggly problems. “We had a misfire which cost time on the Ballintempo stage, but we really enjoyed the rally- the stages were great” said Jonny. Kenny McKinstry took eighth after initial throttle problems, but for Ger Lucey to put his Evo 8 into ninth was an achievement that puts him at the top of the points table. Against the odds the Macroom driver made it home after running into serious clutch trouble by the first service. The car arrived at the finish rattling, which made the result all the more creditable. “I think the springs have come out of the clutch plate now. We had to get a push off the start of the last stage, costing us some time. We are so relieved that we got here!”

The Valvoline two-wheel drive race again was interesting. Shane McGirr and Martin McGarrity came out the winners in the Starlet but the Fivemiletown driver had pressure from Micky Conlon and was in considerable pain with a back injury incurred the previous day at work. “I’m having to take it a bit easier over the bumps” said Shane. “But a bit of deep heat at service and an attack got us here. It wasn’t an easy win, as Micky was going very well until he got his puncture.” Indeed Micky Conlon entered service just two seconds behind Shane, having scored a fabulous time on the long Ballintempo stage. “We had a good run in there” said Micky “ and Shane had that sore back. It’s like chasing a wounded fox today!” But Micky’s luck ended on stage five when he broke a wheel and took a stage maximum, dropping him to forty-first at the finish. Second two-wheel drive was David Condell despite a few problems. “We have had a bad misfire all day, we think caused by a crank sensor and we punctured on stage seven, but really enjoyed the rally.” Just ten seconds behind John Gordon took his faithful four door MK2 Escort to third, and first in class. “Delighted again, happy with that result with the Pinto, and we may have tied up the class in the championship also” said John. David Crossen was expected to challenge but he got his MK2 Escort stuck in a ditch after a chicane on stage one, whilst local driver Damien McGuaran was experimenting with a newly built BMW 320 to replace his trusty rear wheel drive Toyota Corolla.

Winner of the Kumho tyres Junior category, collecting two tyres from Ears Motorsport Ireland was once again Stephen Dickson with co-driver Tommy Hayes in the R2 Fiesta. “Its been a very enjoyable rally. We had two slight over-shoots on the last two stages, but it didn’t effect the Junior result, so it’s all good.”Derek Mackarel didn’t retire his Nova this time but arrived at the finish with a rear wheel bearing failed and having stopped for over a minute to fix a loose coil lead. Shane Kenneally in his MK2 Escort was a retirement on the second loop, whilst James Driver put the Ford KA off into the undergrowth on stage three.

Other important class winners included Ruari Maguire in his Vauxhall Corsa, and Conor McCourt taking Group N, from David Dennison and Stephen Cullen who clocked up maximum Valvoline points.  Next up for the Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Rally Championship is the the Limerick Forest Rally on 16th October. The Limerick Motor Club have been hard at work assembling six classic forest stages over sixty kilometres, as the event makes a return to the championship. Indeed it’s returning to classic format last used back in 2000, as this rally replaces the Mayo Mini Forest Rally in the championship. 

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

1st  Sam Moffett / James Fulton        Ford Fiesta WRC        38:09.0
2nd Josh Moffett / Jason McKenna    Ford Fiesta R5            +0:00.0
3rd Mark Donnelly / Barry McNulty    Subaru S9 WRC            +0:47.0
4th Desi Henry / Liam Moynihan        Skoda Fabia R5            +1:30.0
5th Niall McCullagh / Ryan McCloskey    Subaru S14 WRC        +2:20.0
6th Martin Cairns / Gary McElhinney    Ford Fiesta WRC        +2:49.0
7th Jonny Leonard / Jackie Elliott        Mitsubishi Evo 6        +2:59.0
8th Kenny McKinstry / James O'Reilly    Subaru S14 WRC        +3:10.0
9th Gerard Lucey / JJ Cremin        Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 8    +3:37.0
10th Phil Pickard / Simon Pickard        Subaru Impreza            +3:46.0

Points after round five:

1st Gerard Lucey                74
2nd Michael Carbin             68
3rd Desi Henry                    62    
4th  John Gordon                54
5th Adrian Hetherington      51
5th Micky Conlon                51


2016 Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Rally Championship Remaining Calendar:

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;  

Facebook: Irish Forestry Championship

Twitter: @IrlForestchamp 


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 Lorcan Barron -

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