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