OConnell wins the Moonraker
FOR the third time this season, Cashel's Pat O'Connell and Mark Wiley, driving their Kumho liveried Mitsubishi Evo9, took victory in a round of the Petro Systems Irish Forest Championship. The latest occasion was last Sunday's Munster Moonraker Rally that was based in Lismore.
At the conclusion of the six-stage encounter, organised by the Munster Car Club, the O'Connell and Wiley partnership were 27 seconds ahead of Kenny McKinstry and Harvey Bell (Subaru WRC).
John Reid and Enda Shiels (Toyota Corolla WRC) took third place and although the winners increased their lead of the championship, Reid and Shiels are still in the hunt with three rounds remaining.
Proceedings got under way with the classic stage at the Vee where O'Connell, with a steady performance, edged three seconds ahead of McKinstry, who lost time with intercom woes. Jeremy Drislane (Mitsubishi) finished the stage a second behind McKinstry and was followed by Reid and the Mitsubishi duo of Peter McCullagh and Vincent McAree.
Through the Scart Mountain test, McKinstry was the dominant force and he duly moved to the top of the leaderboard - a mere second ahead of O'Connell with Drislane and Reid completing the top quartet.
At the Cappoquinn service halt, McKinstry addressed the malfunctioning intercom system and through the third stage (Coolatoor), he was able to hear the pacenotes of co-driver, Harvey Bell. The pair stretched their advantage over O'Connell to five seconds. Having sorted some suspension problems, McCullough, moved into third - ahead of Reid. The top group also included Drislane, James Murphy (Escort WRC) and Kevin Barett (Subaru WRC), the latter duo sharing sixth place. Interestingly, Barrett was making his appearance on a gravel event in some six years.
The lead changed on the fourth test, the repeat of The Vee, McKinstry lost a few seconds when he spun and subsequently stalled his S9 Subaru WRC. O'Connell, with a clean run, regained top spot and his lead margin was two seconds. McCullough, who endured a major moment at one particular corner, retained third but was only a second ahead of Reid, who was actually fastest through the stage.
The rally was decided on the penultimate test, Scart Mountain when McKinstry spun yet again. However, the consequences were much more serious - reflected by O'Connell's 27 second lead. Reid slotted his Toyota Corolla WRC into third followed by Murphy and Barrett. Both of the top duo recorded the same time on the final stage, Coolatoor as O'Connell took his third successive victory in a round of the Petro Systems Forest series. McKinstry finished second and Reid was third.
Elsewhere, James Murphy, Barrett and Cashel's Hans Mathia (Mitsubishi Evo7) completed the top six. Retirements included Peter McCullough, Jeremy Drislane and Frank Kelly (Escort).
Bantry co-driver, Catherine Levis, partnered Limerick's Matt Shinnors (Escort) to tenth overall. Meanwhile, Kealkil's Mick Cremin and Coleman Hurley finished eighteenth overall. They had to slacken their pace through the third stage when the radiator cap came undone.
1. P. O'Connell and M. Wiley (Mitsubishi Evo9) 32m. 05s; 2. K. McKinstry and H. Bell (Subaru WRC) 32m. 32s; 3. J. Reid and E. Shiels (Toyota Corolla WRC) 32m. 38s; 4. J. Murphy and A. Nestor (Ford Escort WRC) 33m. 09s; 5. K. Barrett and B. Goodman (Subaru WRC) 33m. 17s; 6. H. Matthia and T. McGuire (Mitsubishi Evo7) 33m. 35s; 7. J. McGaffin and K. Hull (Subaru WRC) 34m. 09s; 8. S. McGirr and A. Corcannon (Toyota Starlet) 34m. 28s; 9. C. Carey and D. O'Callaghan (Mitsubishi Evo9) 35m. 17s; 10. M. Shinnors and C. Levis (Ford Escort) 35m. 19s.
Regulations for the Kilkenny based Raven's Rock Rally, a counting round of the Triton Showers South-East Championship, the Southern 4 Championship and the Mitsubishi Evo Challenge Ireland series, are now available. The rally, organised by the Carrick-on-Suir Motor Club, takes place on Sunday June 27th.
Newly crowned Irish Rallycross champion, Tommy Graham (Ford Fiesta) will be amongst the entry for the Darren Swanton Memorial Rallysprint at the Cork City Civic Amenity Centre on the Kinsale Road on Sunday week next. The Cork Motor Club organising team claim that the event has the potential to attract up to some 10,000 spectators.
Launched last week, some of the other entries are Midleton's Daragh O'Riordan, who may drive his Subaru WRC, and Alan Ring (Mitsubishi). Meanwhile, former Irish and British S1600 champion, Brian O'Mahony is set to drive the Metro 6R4 normally campaigned by his father, Frank. According to sources, the organisers are in discussions with former five times Irish Tarmac champion, Eugene Donnelly. The possibility of reigning British champion, Keith Cronin competing hinge on his ability to get back from Scotland after the Jim Clark International Rally, a round of the British Rally Championship, that finishes on the Saturday afternoon on the same weekend. Ovens ace, Owen Murphy, is in a similar situation.
Due to the increase in personnel involved in the official sale of pacenotes, Motorsport Ireland are reminding its affiliated clubs that anyone that offers pace notes for sale, at any rally, cannot be an official at the same event, as this would be a direct conflict of interest.
The Skibbereen and District Car Club are holding a double header Autotest in the Bandon Co-Op complex at Kilbrogan, Bandon, this weekend. Saturday's event begins at 2.30pm while Sunday's tests get underway at 11am. Both events are rounds of the TMC Windows Skibbereen and District Car Club Championship.
The annual general meeting of the Skibbereen and District Car Club Championship has been reconvened for Wednesday, June 9th, next.
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