Moffett Victorious As O'Brien Tops the Scores! (Willie Loughman Carrick on Suir Forest Rally 2016 Report)
Moffett Victorious As O’Brien Tops the Scores on
Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Championship Opener!
Round one of the 2016 Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Rally Championship, the Willie Loughman Memorial Carrick on Suir Forest Rally saw fifty-eight crews start the eight stage event, and thirty-eight finishers on a fine day through the slippery forest tracks. Over 17 motor clubs were represented from both North and South showing the spread of interest in the championship.
Winners were Sam Moffett and James Fulton, making history by winning in their Ford Fiesta R5, after an excellent run. The Monaghan driver elected not to register for the series. “I don’t plan to contest the whole series, just do a few events so I don’t see it as fair to take points away from the series contenders” said Sam as he readies his R5 for the British Rally Championship. Therefore maximum points went to 18 year old Patrick O’Brien, after a magnificent rally in his DJ Rally Hire Group N Evo 9. With co-driver Aine McGuigan alongside, Patrick the reigning Valvoline Junior champion, proved just why he took that title, as the move from the front wheel drive Citroen C2 to the four wheel drive Evo seemed easy for the Tyrone driver. “I really enjoyed it” said Patrick. “I was happy with our times, and the car, though we had a problem with the active diff after the first stage, which meant that the front diff didn’t work right for the rest of the day. We also had to change intercom at one point, but aside from that the rally flowed very well. I wasn’t sure what our plans were this year, we had considered a go at the BRC but after that start to this series it’s tempting to continue with it. There is a class 20 Evo 9 with a sequential gearbox available, a bit of an animal to be honest! I may consider using that for the Moonraker.” The opposition may watch out, as the 2015 Billy Coleman Award finalist is proving to be a real contender.
Another superb performance came from Omagh’s Niall McCullagh and Ryan McCloskey in their class 20 specification Mitsubishi Evo 6, a car they have been developing over the past year. A stunning time on stage two put them into the lead, an impressive lead in this older model Evo that they were to hold until stage six. Sadly their rally ended on the penultimate stage, when they slid off and got beached with no-one to help push the car back onto the forest track. Also back the years in Mitsubishi Evolution’s with an Evo 4 example, were Michael Carbin and Darragh Kelly in their class 20 machine. The Monaghan driver had a superb run to third overall despite some front bumper damage evident after stage five. Behind them were Liam Ryan and Keith Moriarty in their Evo 8. They survived a big scare on stage four, but Liam was delighted, this being his first outing since 2011. In fifth were Ger Lucey and JJ Cremin in their similar car. Ger, third in the series in 2015, overcame early over-heating problems to claim that position, and took a fastest time on stage three along the way.
The two-wheel drive racers were next up with Adrian Hetherington and Gary Nolan in their 2.5 Escort taking the honours, in what was a relatively drama free day by the spectacular Escort pilot. “We had a great day, and the battles were good. John and Mickey were never too far behind” said Adrian. John Gordon was next up in his class 12 MK2 Escort, the County Down driver suffering a puncture on stage two, but recording a superb result in seventh. Indeed he finished just 7.9 seconds in front of 2015 Valvoline two-wheel drive champion- Mickey Conlon. An early casualty was Shane McGirr who broke a drive-shaft in his Toyota Starlet on stage one, but re-joined later in the event for practice and recorded some fastest 2wd times.
Completing the top ten where a returning Dermot Kelly in his Evo, the first outing for eleven years for the former forestry ace and Hugh McQuaid taking second in class 12 with his MK2 Escort. Just outside the top ten were Damien McGauran in his rear wheel drive Corolla, David Condell in his MK2 despite breaking a shock absorber, and Derek Mackeral in his Vauxhall Nova, who won the rallytrader.ie/ Kumho tyres Junior category, collecting two tyres from Ears Motorsport Ireland. Shane Kenneally was second in the Junior category in his MK2 Escort, despite an altercation with a chicane. Eoin Crowley claimed third in his Peugeot 206.
Finishing in fifteenth and first in class 7 was Robert Moffett and James O’Reilly in the Fiesta WRC, the Monaghan driver delighted just to make the finish on his first rally since 2006. His son Josh, last year’s Valvoline champion didn’t take the start after the tragic death of co-driver Jason McKenna’s brother. Last year’s runner up Mick O’Brien who has purchased, Sam Moffett’s Fiesta WRC was also unable to make it due to business commitments.
Other important class winners were: Class 2- Graeme Colfer (Honda Integra), Class 3-Emmett Lyons (Honda Integra), Class 9- Ruari Maguire (Vauxhall Corsa), Class 10-Mike Garahy (MK2 Escort), Class 11F-Michael Fitzgibbon- (Honda Civic), Class 11R- Jason Walsh (Ford Escort). The championship again has started strongly and round two is the classic Moonraker event in April.
2016 Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Rally Championship
Round One Results:
1 Sam Moffett/James Fulton Ford Fiesta R5 37:36.6
2 Patrick O'Brien/Aine McGuigan Mitsubishi Evo 9 +1:03.6
3 Michael Carbin/Darragh Kelly Mitsubishi Evo 4 +1:30.5
4 Liam Ryan/Keith Moriarty Mitsubishi Evo 8 +1:51.6
5 Gerard Lucey/JJ Cremin Mitsubishi Evo 8 +2:14.6
6 Adrian Hetherington/Gary Nolan Ford Escort Mk2 +2:34.3
7 John Gordan/Thomas Wedlock Ford Escort Mk2 +2:45.9
8 Mickey Conlon/Ciaran McPhilips Ford Escort Mk2 +2:53.8
9 Dermot Kelly/Greg Shinnors Mitsubishi Evo +3:28.2
10 Hugh McQuaid/Enda Gereaghty Ford Escort Mk2 +4:13.5
Points after round one:
1 Patrick O'Brien 21
2 Michael Carbin 19
3 Liam Ryan 18
4 Gerard Lucey 17
5 Adrian Hetherington 16
2016 Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Rally Championship Calendar:
Round 1: 14th February - Willie Loughman Memorial Carrick on Suir Forest Rally
Round 2: 16th April - Moonraker Forest Rally
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 @ www.irishforestrally.com
F: Irish Forestry Championship
Official Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Rally Championship press release issued by Andrew Bushe Promotions
F: Andrew Bushe Promotions
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