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Keith is the Moonraker King - Josh Rakes in the Points! Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest

Written on 10th April 2017 by Andrew Bushe

Media Library - Josh Moffett 2 2017

The 2017 Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Rally Championship got back into gear on Sunday for its second round, the Munster Motor Club’s Moonraker Rally based in Ballyvourney, County Cork. Fine dry weather blessed the event, which proved to be a real hit with the competitors, as winner Keith Cronin in his R5 Fiesta summed up. “ The stages were brilliant, and it was a well-run event, very enjoyable” said the Bantry driver.  Keith won by a twenty second margin, his only dramas being an intercom failure and clipping a chicane on stage one, but the real focus was on the battle for second and top Valvoline points.

Josh Moffett, fresh from his ERC Rally Azores podium last weekend, borrowed his brother Sam’s R5 Fiesta, as his own is still en-route back from the Azores. The young Monaghan man was close to Cronin all day despite a wrong tyre choice costing a few seconds in the middle loop. Second place and maximum points was a fine result.  “ I am delighted with maximum points, and it was very enjoyable, a lot less pressure than last weekend. Keith was pushing hard at the front and all the boys were pushing on. Adapting to Sam’s car wasn’t a problem, and I’m pretty much happier I did especially with the cuts we were talking! ” joked the former forestry champion at the Abbey Hotel finish. Just four seconds behind in third with the WRC Fiesta, Sam Moffett took a little bit of time to get into a rhythm in the morning, but was right on it by the end of the day. “ Fantastic stages, it was a great day” said Sam who completed a Fiesta 1-2-3. “There was a really hot pace, and it feels a lot higher than last year.  I’m looking forward to round three in Donegal. Hopefully by the middle of the year we can get a win or two, as Josh has already deprived me of two wins!” 2016 Valvoline champion- Desi Henry in the Skoda R5 was another impressed with both the stages and pace as he slotted into fourth just six seconds back from Sam having had a good consistent run all day.


Adrian Hetherington claimed fifth in the WRC Corolla, although some distance back from the charging front four, with local man Ger Lucey a fine sixth with his Evo 8, despite a slow start. Jonny Leonard brought his Group A Evo 6 home in seventh, just a few seconds in front of Group N winner Jordan Hone in his Evo 9. The young Dungiven driver won the BTRDA 1400 Championship in England last year and the switch to four wheel drive is proving successful. Second in Group N was Cathan McCourt, twenty-eight seconds ahead of brother Conor both in Evo 9’s, with Ashley Dickson fourth in his similar machine.Ninth on the overall leader-board was Liam Regan in his Peugeot 206 4x4. The Belfast driver had been battling with Jonny Leonard for seventh until clutch issues intervened. Completing the top ten was Barry McKenna, using the McGeehan hire Mini WRC.

The Valvoline two-wheel drive category looked set to be a battle between the MK2 Escort with 2 litre Vauxhall power of Comber’s David Crossen and Castleblayney’s Mickey Conlon. David opened the day by taking ten seconds off Mickey who was getting used to a rebuilt engine, but had no real answer to his Escort rival who stormed to twelfth overall and a thirty –five second 2wd win. “ Our only drama was a broken rear link on stage three, which the service crew fixed quickly. We had a great day’s rallying on great stages, thanks to the crew and Damien in the co-driver’s seat for doing a good job“ said David as he scooped maximum category points again.


The Valvoline Junior section, where the crews are competing for an automatic Motorsport Ireland Billy Coleman Award nomination at the season’s end, provided an epic fight between the registered crews as Stephen Dickson in the R2 Fiesta took a narrow 2.8 second victory over Shane Kenneally in the Honda Civic.“We had a very slow start” explained Stephen. “ I was very happy to get that result after our final stage charge as it now leaves myself and Shane equal on points going into the third round in Donegal.” Derek Mackeral sadly retired again in his repaired  Nova, whilst former N.I Junior 1000 champion-William Creighton took the class 16 honours and seventeenth overall in his Peugeot 208 R2 but is not registered for points. Other class winners were on the event were:  Seamus Heaney (Honda Civic)- class 1, Cal McCarthy (Citroen C2)-class2, Ruari Maguire (Vauxhall Corsa)-class 9, Tom Murphy- (MK2 Escort)-class 10, Michael Feehey (Honda Integra)-class 11F, Chris Benskin (MK2 Escort)-class 11R, Chris Simms (MK2 Escort)-class 12, Marc Johnston(MK2 Escort)-class 19.

The new M. O’Brien Plant Hire Junior 1000 class for 16-18 year olds, entered its second round  on the Moonraker and once again the Peugeot 107’s of Alex Byrne and Jason Murphy lined up to do battle. And quite a battle it was, as just half a second separated round one winner Jason, and Alex on stage one. On the second test the pressure was off as Alex made a mistake dropping three minutes, but the roles were reversed on stage three when Jason’s 107 suffered a mechanical problem, taking a stage maximum and re-joining the event under Super-Rally. That left Alex Byrne and James Fogarty with a clear victory. “I was a little cautious after our moment this morning, but we got it going again this afternoon. It was a great experience, very flowing stages to drive” commented young Alex at the finish. With a fabulous prize of a drive in an R2 car on a 2018 Irish Forest Rally round, entry vouchers for the top three on each round: €200 euro to first place, €125 euro to 2nd place and €75 euro to third place and Ears Motorsport putting up tyres as prizes it’s all to go for, as the C-Sport run crews now tie on points heading for the third Junior 1000 foray in May.


Once again we would like to give special thanks to all our sponsors – Valvoline, Andrew Fanning Motor Factors, M. O'Brien Plant Hire, Suirway Group Forklifts & Farm Machinery, Jelf Motorsport Insurance, Exact Signs & Graphics, Pottinger Machinery, Ears Motorsport / Kumho Tyres, Colton Pump & Heating Services, Coillte, Concept Fire Services Ltd, Gordon Automotive Services, Barron Pix & SVS Incar Cameras.


2017 Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Rally Championship -
Round 2 Results

1              Keith Cronin/Mikie Galvin              Fiesta R5                              36:52.9                 

2              Josh Moffett/Stephen Thornton     Fiesta R5                              +0:20.6

3              Sam Moffett/James Fulton             Fiesta WRC                          +0:24.9

4              Desi Henry/Liam Moynihan            Skoda R5                             +0:30.7

5              Adrian Hetherington/Gary Nolan    Corolla WRC                        +2:26.2

6              Gerard Lucey/JJ Cremin                 Evo 8 Mitsubishi                  +3:12.2

7              Johnny Leonard/Niall Burns            Evo 6 Mitsubishi                  +3:28.4

8              Jordan Hone/Paul Hone                  Evo 9 Mitsubishi                  +3:31.7 
9              Liam Regan/David McElroy             206 4x4 Peugeot                 +3:39.8

10           Barry McKenna/Leon Jordan            WRC Mini                            +3:50.9


2017 Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Rally Championship -
Provisional Points After Round 2

1st`          Josh Moffett                      42 pts

2nd`         Sam Moffett                      38 
3rd           Desi Henry                        36 
4th           Adrian Hetherington          33 
5th           Jonny Leonard                  29 
=             Gerard Lucey                     29 
7th           Liam Regan                       24 
8th           David Crossen                   21 
9th           Enda McCormack             19 
10th         Marty McCormack             17


2017 Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Rally Championship-Rounds

Round 1 - 12th February- Carrick on Suir Forest Rally

Round 2 - 8th April- Moonraker Forest Rally

Round 3 - 13th May- Donegal Forest Rally

Round 4 - 30th July-Jim Walsh Cork Forest Rally

Round 5 - 2nd September-Enniskillen Lakeland Stages Rally

Round 6 - 14th October-Rathfriland MC Down Forest Rally

For all the latest updates and more information of the Valvoline Motorsport Ireland 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 T:@IrlForestchamp.

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

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