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Launch for M O’Brien Plant Hire Junior 1000 Rally Series

HeroSpec Launch for M O’Brien Plant Hire Junior 1000 Rally Series!
2018 Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Rally Championship
The 2018 Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Rally Championship, will once again play host to the Junior 1000 driver’s, aged just 15-19, as the future stars of the stages take to the Irish Forest Rally Championship, an ideal learning ground to perfect their rallying skills. This Saturday at Mondello Park Racing Circuit, the 2018 M. O’Brien Plant Hire Junior 1000 series will be launched in style at the new HeroSpec Rally-Sprint event, where the Junior’s will be mixing it with the WRC and Modified machinery!
National Forest Championship Co-Ordinator Ray Fitzpatrick is very excited about the second season of the Junior 1000 which once again is sponsored by former National Forest Rally Champion – Mick O’Brien of M. O’Brien Plant Hire. “Last year was a big one for us to get the whole series off the ground and now for 2018 the interest has risen considerably and it is shaping up to be a big year for Junior 1000. We have a great prize fund on offer with €1500 for the series winner, €1000 for second and €500 for third. Added to this, entry vouchers per round of €200 for first, €150 for second and €100 for third are all designed to help these young driver’s progress in the sport.” Once again the 1000cc chargers will be on a control Kumho gravel tyre supplied by Ears Motorsport Ireland, and Ears will not only be supplying on-event service for the crews but also offering tyre prizes for each of the five rounds, making it an attractive proposition for any 15-19-year-old driver.
Reigning champion Jason Murphy is set to return in his C-Sport prepared Peugeot 107 to defend his crown, with Tipperary’s Aoife Gahan, the first female competitor in the series returning after a successful debut on last years Cork Forest event. Scottish driver Peter Beaton in his Peugeot 107 is set to make his Valvoline Championship debut at the first round in Carrick On Suir after being a front-runner in the N.I. J1000 series. Reigning Northern Ireland J1000 Champion Sam Adams was also to make his Valvoline debut with the Skoda Citigo in Carrick, but sadly the Co. Antrim driver was a passenger in a horrific road accident last weekend, and we hope he can make a recovery to join us during the season. Another significant interest of late has come from Casey-Jay Coleman, Konan Heaney from Cashel, Aaron Whelan from Cork and Cavan’s Ben Kellett, so the entries are set to grow and the talent to shine in the forests!
2018 M. O’Brien Plant Hire Junior 1000 Championship Rounds
1 3rd February Willie Loughman Memorial Carrick on Suir Forest Rally, Co. Tipperary.
2 4th March Limerick Forest Rally, Silvermines, Co. Tipperary.
3 14th April Munster MCC Moonraker Forest Rally, Ballyvourney, Co. Cork
4 14th July Cavan Forest Rally, Co. Cavan.
5 29th July Jim Walsh Cork Forest Rally, Mallow, Co. Cork.
Interested in the M. O’Brien Junior 1000 series contact Ray Fitzpatrick-tel: 00 353 85 151 6229
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. Picture please credit David Harrigan:

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30 Sec’s With TV Presenter Olive Esler

Olive at launch of National Championship


Name: Olive Esler

Birthday: 7th of Feb 1985

Lives: Dundrum, Dublin but I’m from Ardrahan, Co. Galway

Occupation: TV Presenter for On The Limit Sports. Researcher and Guest Booker at TV3

Road car: Audi A4


How old were you when you drove your first car?

I was 12 or 13! My older brother had an old Datsun Cherry that we used as a field car beside my Dad’s garage. It was silver with orange stripes and we absolutely loved it. My brother used to set up an obstacle course in the field with tyres to practise his driving skills. I was always the co-pilot. It was years before he let me get behind wheel!


How did you get to work with On The Limit Sports?

When On The Limit Sports were looking for a new presenter my name came up and Mick Bracken had a look at other presenting work that I have done over the last 8 years. We met up, got on very well and the rest as they say is history!


Did you ever look at rallying?

My brother is obsessed with motorsport. Anything with wheels he has an interest in so I grew up watching the WRC and Formula One with him. I never thought that I would ever get a chance to work in rallying!


When was your first rally and what did you think of it?

A rally came to Galway when I was very young. I’d say I was only about 8 or 9. Our road was closed off to accommodate it and our whole family went out to watch it. I couldn’t believe how fast the cars flew by.


How are you finding working with On the Limit Sport?

I had a baptism of fire starting out on Round One of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship but I absolutely loved it! I have been learning the ropes as quick as I can and getting to grips with how fast the day flies. We hit as many stages as we can throughout the day, we cover the services and do as many interviews with the drivers and crews as we can. Between the National Championship and the Valvoline Irish Forest Rally Championship it has been so busy. The rallying community have been nothing but welcoming and I have really enjoyed getting to know everyone.


Favourite food? You can never beat a good steak and a glass of red wine


Do you have any frustrating moments working in TV?

The rally’s are an incredibly fast paced environment to make television. There’s no room for mistakes! On my second day of filming we tried to do a piece to camera with one of the sweeper cars  whizzing by in the background but I messed up my lines right at the end. That was really frustrating as I knew the shot could have been really cool if I had nailed it. There are no second chances. I’ve my heart set on getting shots like that before the year is out!


Who is your favourite rally driver of all time and why?

Colin McRae – “If in doubt, flat out”. The number of trophies he won almost equalled the amount of cars he destroyed, but that’s what made him so thrilling to watch. He brought a huge excitement to every event he raced in. If rallying is defined as a human beings ability to drive a machine as fast as possible, in the worst terrain and conditions imaginable, McRae is the sport personified.


Are you looking forward to 2015 and why?

2015 has been a really exciting year for me so far. I was delighted to get the presenter role for both the National and Forestry championship with On The Limit Sports and watching the first episodes air on TG4 was a wonderful moment in my career. The last two weekends I have been covering the second rounds in both championships so they have yet to air and after that I have a lot more rally’s around the country to attend. Both championships are already heating up and I am really looking forward to the rest of the season.


What is in your rally bag on a weekend?

Waterproof boots to run around in, my shirt and jacket for the event and a pocket size notebook to keep track of all my research.


What’s your plan for the year 2015?

My plan is to enjoy the rally season and to bring as much action to each show as possible. Before the year is  I’d love to get a spin on a test run in one of the top WRC cars! That would be amazing.


Would you like to thank any one?

I’d really like to thank Mick Bracken for putting his faith in me to deliver a good programme across the National and Forestry Championships this year for On The Limit Sports. He has been great to work with and he has pushed me to be the best presenter I can be.


My Dad and brother have taught me all that I know about cars and are the two men in my life that have given me a love of motorsport from an early age.


I’d also like to thank my mum for believing in me when I said I wanted to work in television. She never tried to persuade me to get a sensible job and has been a huge support over the years.


Catch Round 2 of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship with Olive on TG4 at 9pm on Thursday April 16th


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Donegal Forest Rally





Round two of the 2015 Valvoline Irish Forest Rally Championship, was the rescheduled Donegal Forest Rally. Originally to be round one, but cancelled due to snow, the Donegal Motor Club’s efforts were rewarded this time with fine weather, and an event which ran very smoothly.

It was Andrew Purcell who stormed to a victory in his Group A Mitsubishi Evo 9, after a fine display. “For once everything went well for us!” quipped Andrew. “We had no problems, and no real moments, though we did back off a little bit too much on the penultimate stage, and had to judge the pace on the last one as Josh was ten seconds behind us. The event ran well, and the faster stages seemed to suit us and I was somewhat surprised early on at that. It’s great to win, especially after only getting about half a mile last time, and I am looking forward to the Moonraker.” Josh Moffett put in a mid-afternoon charge to win Group N in his Evo 9 overtaking round one winner Mick O’Brien in his Focus WRC who finished third. “We started well fastest on stage one” said Mick’s co-driver James O’Brien. “Then we dropped time on stages two and three, went for an attack on stage four, but we overshot a square junction clipped a rock and had to drive out on puncture. Then Josh put in an almighty charge on the final two, and there was no catching him. It all leaves the championship race very much alive.”

Early retirements included Desi Henry in his S9 Impreza with overheating troubles, and Enda McNulty on the same stage in his Group A Impreza also with mechanical woes. There was some consolation in the Henry camp, as Niall Henry put in a fine drive to take fourth in his Evo, which now places him second in the Valvoline series.

In the two wheel drive race it was the MK2 Escort of Micky Conlon repeating his round one result of fifth overall and first in the category, but it wasn’t as sure a thing as on round one.
“We had a good start and built up a ten second lead after three stages, then on stage four we banged a back wheel and jammed the brake” said the Castleblayney driver. “We got the wheel changed then had a half spin on stage five and David Crossen was just a second ahead of us going into the final stage. We put in a charge and got it, and David had problems so it’s been a good start to the season. Still anything can happen.” For County Down’s Crossen it was gearbox selection trouble plaguing the car all day that finally meant that he had to drive the car through the final test in fourth gear, losing over twenty seconds to Micky. “I am happy to finish were we did. I enjoyed the event, just the gearbox was the worry as it was selecting the wrong gears at times on the stages and I was worried about buzzing the engine” said David.

In the Valvoline Junior section round one winner Kevin Eves lead initially his home event in the 208 R2, but disaster struck on stage two when he clouted some logs and was out of the event. That left Patrick O’Brien to take his Citroen C2 R2 Max to a fine tenth overall and win not only two Kumho tyres from Ears Motorsport Ireland, but a free entry to the Junior section of the Donegal International event, kindly donated by the motor club.

Other class winners included Hugh McQuaid (MK2 Escort) eighth overall- class 12, Mike Garahy (MK2 Escort)-class 10, Emmett Cronin (MK2 Escort)-class 9 and Stuart Rankin (Peugeot 206)- class 2.

Next it’s the Munster Car Club’s Moonraker Forest Rally on April 12th as the Valvoline series has been thrown wide open after a thrilling day in Donegal!

Motorsport Ireland 2015 Valvoline Irish Forest Rally Championship-
Round Two Results
1st Andrew Purcell / Liam Brennan Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 35:39.0
2nd Josh Moffett / Jason McKenna Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +0:07.1
3rd Mick O’Brien / James O’Brien Ford Focus WRC +0:17.5
4th Niall Henry / John Rowan Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +1:35.3
5th Mickey Conlon / Ciaran McPhilips Ford Escort MkII +2:30.2
6th David Crossen / Damien Fleming Ford Escort MkII +2:52.8
7th Cathal McCourt / Conor McCourt Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +2:57.9
8th Hugh McQuaid / Enda Gerarty Ford Escort +3:18.0
9th John Gordon / Thomas Wedlock Ford Escort MK2 +3:19.2
10th Damien McGauran / Michaela McGinn Toyota Corolla +3:39.3

Provisional Valvoline Irish Forest Rally Championship Points after Round Two:
1 Michael O’Brien 39pts
2 Niall Henry 34
3 Micky Conlon 32
4 Andrew Fanning

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Carrick Forestry Marshalls Required

The Willie Loughman Forestry Stages Rally takes place on Sunday 1st March 2015.
It is not possible to run this event without the help of our neighbouring clubs. Wexford Motor Club are
requesting the assistance of our members.
The rally is the second round of the 2015 VALVOLINE National Forestry Rally Championship.
It is also the first round of the SUIRWAY GROUP South East Stages Rally Championship.
Rally H.Q. The Carraig Hotel, Carrick-on-Suir.
We look forward returning the favour for your event.
Yours in Motorsport,
Barry Duggan. C.O.C.
087 9956312
31st January 2015

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Wheels Are Oiled for the 2015 Valvoline Irish Forest Championship!

2014 Valvoline Irish Forest Rally Champio Owen Murphy pic by Ger Leahy Photography

The Valvoline Irish Forest Rally Championship starts early this year with the first foray into the forests in Donegal on January 31st. With dedicated TV coverage once again and a seven round calendar featuring many of the best forestry special stages in Ireland, interest is high in the series. The overall title challenge looks to be fought out amongst a contingent of Mitsubishi Evo 9’s.

The 2014 Champion, Cork’s Owen Murphy would like to contest the full series, but budget is an issue. “It’s a brilliant series, and I would like to commit to the whole championship, but realistically this season we only have the budget at the moment to contest the events that are quite close to home. Last year, it was fantastic to get the title, and it looks ultra- competitive again this season.” The title race is wide open, and the Moffett’s from Monaghan are amongst the favourites. Josh is planning a full title assault in a new development of the Evo 9 from Gerry McGarrity, whilst older brother Sam will be using his Group N version. WRC Rally GB winner Philip Morrow is also considering entering the Donegal Forestry. “The car still has a few miles to do before it’s rebuild. It depends on work, but I haven’t ruled out a run out in Donegal and then see from there” commented the Lisburn driver.

Portglenone’s Desi Henry, who won last season’s final Glens of Antrim round is also mounting a full attack in another Group A Evo 9. “I’m really looking forward to it” commented Desi. “There is going to be some race, particularly with a lot of us competing in similar cars, it could be very close racing in the woods! The series is getting stronger and it’s a varied calendar also.” Desi’s brother Niall will make it a two car PRH Construction team.

Tipped by several drivers as a real threat is the appearance of Andrew Purcell with Liam Brennan co-driving, and in an Evo 9 this time. Andrew, currently in America on honeymoon after his marriage to Sarah Moynihan led the series back in 2008, and has the distinction of winning rounds as a driver and a co-driver. “Last year we took the Evo 6 to some events, but I was really having to drive it at eleven tenths all the time. I’m hoping that the 9 will make it easier for me, and we really want to have a crack at the title. I’ll probably be quite glad of the break in the middle of the year to re-coup the funds and then it’s all go again!” Adding more spice to the main battle will be the pretty R5 plus specification Fiesta driven by Pauric Duffy, and he is currently on a test programme ahead of round one. Last year’s Bushwhacker round winner Martin Cairns looks set for Donegal too in his S14 Impreza WRC, and with the odd surprise entry still to come, it’s promising to be an epic struggle.

In the coveted Valvoline Two Wheel Drive section, Adrian Hetherington is an early entry for Donegal, and Castleblayney’s Mickey Conlon is set for a title attack. Alan Atcheson is another driver looking set for Donegal, but last year’s champion Shane McGirr has other commitments. “We are building a house this year, so I won’t be committing to a championship, but will do the odd round” commented Shane. Frank Kelly is in a similar situation. “Our main focus this year is on the Tarmac National series, but I love the forests and there are rounds of the Irish Forest Championship I will have to be at! Things can change though, as I have a fixed number of rallies planned, but no one around home believes I’ll stick to those!”

The Junior section once again has the bonus of an automatic Billy Coleman Award nomination for the series winner, and last year’s winner Conor McCarthy looks set to make a few more appearances with his Honda in 2015, with Cousin Cal looking to try a different car in the forests also. There is an added incentive for the first Valvoline Junior finisher in Donegal. Thanks to the motor club the winner will receive a free entry to the Junior section of the Donegal International in June!
The ever present class battles will fought out all season, and the ever important clubmen will thrill the crowds as they slide sideways around the Irish Forestry roads. If you go down to the woods on the 31st January you’ll be sure of a few surprises!
2015 Valvoline Irish Forest Rally Calendar
Round 1 – Donegal Forest Rally (31st January)
Round 2 – Willie Loughman Carrick on Suir Forest Rally (1st March)
Round 3 – Munster CC Moonraker Forest Rally (12th April)
Round 4 – Jim Walsh Cork Forest Rally (23rd August)
Round 5 – Enniskillen Lakelands Forest Rally (5th September)
Round 6 – Mayo Forest Rally (18th October)
Round 7 – Glens of Antrim Forest Rally (7th November)

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Young Rally Driver of the Year Finalists are announced

Motorsport Ireland has announced the eight nominees for this year’s Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver of the Year award.

These comprise the five bi-monthly winners from January-February through to September-October along with the highest placed driver from the Valvoline National Forestry Championship, the winner of the Junior category in the Dunlop National Rally Championship and finally two wildcards.

Kevin Eves from Donegal was the first name on the list as he secured the January-February nomination for his results in the Galway Rally.

The March-April nomination went to Monaghan driver Josh Moffett, who won the Production class in the Circuit of Ireland International Rally, and also took class wins in both the Munster Moonraker Forestry and Monaghan events.

In May-June, the outstanding young rally driver was Cormac Phelan from Roscommon, who won the Junior class in the Carlow and Circuit of Munster Rallies, giving him a hat-trick of three in a row in the Dunlop National Rally Championship. He went on to take the Junior title, earning a double nomination.

Galway driver Dean Raftery was the nominee for July-August, with class victory in the ALMC Rally and second place in class in the Ulster International Rally, a round of the British Rally Championship.

The final bi-monthly selection was Chris Armstrong from Cavan, thanks to his outright win in the GSMC Rally in October, backed up by second place in class in the two day Wexford Rally and a class third in Clare.

Conor McCarthy from Dunmanway, Co Cork, was the winner of the Junior category in the Valvoline National Forestry Championship.

The wildcard selections to complete the list of finalists went to Rob Duggan from Killarney and Monaghan’s Richard Moffett, a cousin of Josh, for their impressive results during the year in both tarmac and forestry rallies.

All eight nominees will be interviewed by an independent panel with the list being narrowed down to three finalists. The winner of this year’s Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver of the Year will then be announced at the Motorsport Ireland Dunlop Champions of Irish Motorsport Awards on December 10.

The winner will receive support to the value of €50,000 to compete in rallies nationally and internationally in 2015. The two runners up will receive free entry into a number of Motorsport Ireland permitted events during 2015. All three finalists will also receive the benefit of advice and assistance from Tom Walsh, Co-ordinator for the Billy Coleman Award. Tom has been involved in the management and mentoring of young rally drivers in International competition for many years and has also acted as Clerk of the Course for Rally Ireland.

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