Jim Walsh Memorial Cork Forest Rally
The fourth round of the 2014 Valvoline National Forest Rally Championship takes
place in the vast Ballyhoura Forest complex on the Cork/ Limerick border this Sunday
August 24th. The Championship resumes following a 3 month lay-off since the
Wicklow Forest Rally last May. Hosted by Cork Motor Club this event has a huge
reputation for its’ smooth fast flowing stages all within the Ballyhoura Forests.
The exceptional stages make the rally the crown jewel of forest rallies and very
much a “Gravel Grand Prix”.
Named in honor of Jim Walsh – a club member affectionately known as “Fr Jim” a man
who worked very hard behind the scenes on this and many other club events. Jim lost
his fight for life due to kidney failure just as results on the 2006 Cork Forest
Rally were declared final. Widely regarded as the holy grail of forest rallies
competitors pull all the stops out to get their name on the prestigious “Jim Walsh
The Club has very strong links to the “Valvoline” series with many club members
contesting this year’s championship. Interestingly several club members have tasted
success in the championship since its’ inception back in 1990. The club has
produced 5 champion drivers and 10 navigators along with many class winners. It’s
only fitting that the National Navigators’ title is dedicated to the late Ger Fahy.
Ger was a club member from Buttevant who clerked this rally in 2005, regularly
competed and or helped on events throughout the country. Ger was a hardcore clubman
and is sadly missed following his untimely death in 2007. The “Spirit of the Rally”
award is also dedicated to Ger. The Club has also been very active on the
championship committee with members holding the roles of Chairman, Secretary,
Registrar and PRO over the years. One could possibly say that this is the
“Spiritual Home” of the Championship.
Last years’ format proved very popular with competitors so this year is quiet
similar with only a slight variation to the stages. CoC Sean Daly and his team have
everything in place for what should be a spectacular day through the vast Ballyhoura
Forests. Scrutiny and Documentation take place at Greenhall Motor’s Opel Dealership
in Buttevant on Saturday evening. Following Scrutiny all rally cars will be placed
in a secure overnight parc ferme opposite scrutiny. The safety briefing takes
place at 08:00 Sunday morning at Greenhall Motors before the first competing cars
leave parc ferme at 08:30.
There is a brief service at Charleville Show Grounds before the opening 10.5km stage
in “Ballinaboula” followed by the 11.5km “New Fields”. The first loop offers a bit
of everything so drivers will need to be wide awake as timing is to the tenth of a
second. The first car is due at service (centralised in Charleville Show Grounds
all day) at 10:30 before a repeat of Ballinaboula and New Fields. Following the
lunchtime service competitors embark upon the awesome “Streamhill” 10km stage. This
is a very fast flowing gravel stage and rarely will Irish forest competitors spend
as much time in top gear. “Coolfree” is next up, while relatively short only 7.5km
it can be deceptive with various surface changes and junctions tightened with bales.
After the final service there’s a repeat of Streamhill and Coolfree with
competitors due at the finish ramp outside rally HQ “Corbett Court Restaurant”
Ballyhea (only 200yards from Service) at 17:00.
Championship leaders Josh Moffett/ Jason McKenna (Evo 9) have been very consistent
to date but need to go one better in Cork to consolidate their position. Owen
Murphy/ James O’Brien (Evo 9) bid for a hat trick having won the last two rounds.
The Cork pair are on home soil and have tasted success here in 2012. Pat O’Connell/
Mark Wiley (Evo 9) won here in 2011 and have shown good speed this year but have
been jinxed with a lack of reliability. Desi Henry/ Liam Moynihan (Evo 9) want to
make amends following their retirement in Wicklow. Other Lancer pilots capable of a
strong result include; Peter McCullagh, Niall Henry and Michael Carbin. While
Lancer’s currently top the Championship standings the WRC’s of John Reid, Martin
Cairns, Brendan Cumiskey, Derek McGeehan, Marty McKenna and Martin Donnelly should
be right in the mix for outright victory.
The 2WD contingent will thrill the crowds with their high revs screaming through the
woods in spectacular sideways fashion. There’s an extra incentive with the “MK2
Master of the Woods” award. Frank Kelly was the inaugural winner last year and
returns to defend his title. Micky Conlon, Ollie Williams, Adrian Hetherington and
David Crossen are just a sample of those bidding for the coveted mk2 laurels. Dare
we forget the Toyota’s; current 2WD Champion Shane McGirr has the potential to blow
the MK2’s away with his rapid 2.0 Starlet. Damien McGauran is right on the pace
this year with his 2.0 Corolla. Allen Treacy currently leads class 3 with his 1600
Corolla however the rapid local Escorts of Paul Fitzgerald and Jimmy Deane are
likely to fight tooth and nail for the class win on home ground.
Conor McCarthy has enjoyed 100% success so far winning each round in the Juniors but
it just got interesting. Mayo’s Alan Moran (206) showed good pace in Wicklow.
Shane Kenneally (mk2) is more competitive each day as is David Beamish (Nova) add in
Derek Mackeral (Nova) and this could be the battle to watch.
The Seeded Entry List is due to be published Wednesday 20th August on
www.corkmotorclub.com. For Further information including time & distance schedule,
final instructions & live results during the rally go to:
Rd 4, Cork Entry List.