Next stop, Donegal!
The fourth round of the Valvoline Motorsport Ireland Forest Rally Championship switches to the north west of the country this coming weekend when the Donegal Forestry Rally takes place. Top seeds are Cathan McCourt & Barry McNulty who currently lie third in the championship, but will be strong favourites to repeat their Moonraker win in the last round. Second seeds and second overall in the championship are Niall Henry & Damien Duffin in a RHD Citroen DS3 R5 who will be looking to move into the championship top spot by the Saturday evening. Third seeds Patrick & Stephen O’Brien are in their usual Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 after a couple of non-finishes where a very quick start was made. If Patrick can make the finish the likelihood is that it will be somewhere on the podium.
Fourth seeds are championship leaders Michael Carbin & Conor Mohan who will be defending a four point lead at the top of the series going into this weekend. Championship regulars Gerard Lucey & Padraig O’Donovan make the long journey from Cork after a disappointing series to date and they will be looking for a strong result in their Lancer. Sixth seeds are Conor McCourt and Caolan McKenna in a Fiesta R5 made a steady start on the opening round but have gained very few points since then and will be looking to rectify that state of affairs in Donegal. The top ten seeds are completed by Donall Sweeney (Lancer), Martin McKenna (Fiesta WRC), Eoghain Rogers (Lancer) and Peter McCullagh (Lancer).
The 2WD battle is likely to be contested between David Crossen (Escort) and Shane McGirr (Starlet) respectively, although there are a number of others more than capable to taking top honours. Mickey Conlon & Adrian Hetherington are mainstays of the series and will be very quick. Others who could feature are John Gordon, Gary Kieran, Oran Donnelly & David Condell. Derek Mackarel will be favourite to take top points in the junior championship and he currently leads the 16A class. Marty Gallagher & Kyle White are his closest rivals but are nine points behind. Shane Kenneally leads the class 16 variant of the junior championship following a few strong performances to date and he holds a nine point lead over Jason Murphy.
The M O’Brien plant hire J1000 championship is the most competitive since the series was formed a few years back and once again eight drivers are entered. Kyle McBride has been very impressive this season having won the last two rounds and he tops the seeded list here in his Toyota Aygo. Reece Pollock won the opening round but has slipped to third place, one point behind Peter Beaton who is McBride’s current closest challenger, four points behind. Joseph Kelly, Marcus McElwee, Casey Jay Coleman, Ella Conway and Aaron Whelan complete the list.
The action gets underway at 10am on Saturday morning when the cars leave Par Ferme and Clerk of the Course John Crumlish has laid out a 3x2 route. The first stage starts at 10:18am with the first car due back at the finish ramp at 16.30.
Top 6 Overall Championship Points
1 – Michael Carbin 44
2 – Niall McCullagh 40
3 – Cathan McCourt 37
4 – Joe Hegarty 34
5 – Keith Power & David Crossen 33