LOCAL competitors were the major award recipients at the presentation ceremonies for the PlasticBags.ie Southern 4 Rally Championship and the Carbery Plastics Skibbereen and District Car Club Championship that took place at the Celtic Ross Hotel, Rosscarbery on Saturday night.
For 34-year-old Baltimore driver Stephen Carey the past season was memorable. The quintessential clubman rally driver became the first Group N driver to win the Southern 4 regional rally series.
He is the fourth West Cork driver to win the series and joins inaugural winner Donal O’Donovan (1998), Denis Cronin (1999, 2005 and 2009) and Liam McCarthy (2003, 2004 and 2008).
In 2013 Carey, who drives a Class 3 Honda Civic, came agonisingly close to winning the title but was overhauled on the final round in Bantry by Lisburn’s Wesley Patterson.
This year, a string of consistent results paved the way for success that was completed on the Cork ‘20’ International Rally where he also finished sixth overall.
Refreshingly honest about his achievements during the past season where he won the Group N category on the West Cork Rally and celebrated his Southern 4 success at the finish ramp of the Westlodge Hotel Fastnet Rally in Bantry, he said: ‘I never thought I would win this award, it’s just brilliant. We have a very small team. It was consistency and a bit of luck that brought this win.’
He added: ‘To say I’m pleased is an understatement. In 2013, I led entering the final round but I couldn’t and didn’t expect to hold off Wesley Patterson (Ford Escort) and Daragh O’Riordan (Ford Fiesta WRC). So, to win it this time was very special.
‘I was under a lot of pressure on the Cork ‘20’ but when Wesley (Patterson) retired, I had to make sure I finished and tied up the championship, which was great.’
In previous years Stephen Carey has won both Class 2 and Class 3 in the Dunlop National Rally Championship and also won class awards and was runner-up in the Top Part West Coast Championship.
During the past year Tragumna’s Breda O’Driscoll and Bandon’s Ella Ryan were his co-drivers.
Elsewhere, the top award for the Co-Driver category also ended up in West Cork with Enniskeane’s Sean Hayde, who competed with Waterford driver Brian O’Keeffe, coming out on top.
The Group N award for the Plasticbags.ie series was won by Rosscarbery’s Brian O’Mahony and his Leap co-driver Michelle Gallwey while Ballydehob’s George Swanton/Kevin Barry won the Historic section.
In the various classes, Tragumna’s Breda O’Driscoll won the co-driver award in Class 3; Lissarda’s Philip Cross/JJ Cremin won Class 4; Clonakilty’s Ed Twomey won Class 6: Bandon’s Robert and Orla Beamish were second in Class 9; Bandon’s Victor and Susan Beamish were second in Class 10 and Clonakilty’s Cal McCarthy/Eamonn Dullea were second in Class 11.
In the junior category, Coppeen’s Jenny Warren won the overall co-driver award. In the classes, the top three were Bandon’s Andrew Beamish, Skibbereen’s Eric Calnan and Crookstown’s Chris Brady. Bandon’s Cillian Crowley was the top co-driver in Class 16B.
Meanwhile, in the Carbery Plastics Skibbereen and District Car Club series, Cal McCarthy, representing Carbery Plastics, presented the top two awards to Bandon’s Andrew Beamish (driver) and Drinagh’s Denis O’Donovan (navigator).
A special award in honour of the late Norman Giles was also presented to Andrew Beamish by Citroen’s World Rally Championship co-driver Paul Nagle, who was the special guest and was accompanied by his fiancée Kathy Healy.
In the driver’s category Bandon’s David Beamish and Rosscarbery’s Brian O’Mahony were second and third respectively. Leap’s Amy Gallwey and West Cork-based Lisa O’Dowd filled the respective positions in the Navigator’s category.
During the evening special presentations were made to Aileen Kelly (for her exploits in the British Rally Championship), Conor McCarthy/Dan O’Donovan (Irish Forest junior champions), Jason Roycroft and Nicole O’Shea (Class 2 winners in the Dunlop series) and Stephen Carey (Southern 4 champion).
The host club, the Skibbereen and District Car Club, also honoured each of the Clerks of the Course for the events during 2014.
The big winners: At the presentation of awards for the PlasticBags.ie Southern 4 Rally Championship at the Celtic Ross Hotel, Rosscarbery were, from left, Sean O’Carroll (Plasticbags.ie), Stephen Carey, overall winning driver, Ella Ryan, who was co-driver for Stephen Carey on the latter part of the series, Sean Hayde, overall winning co-driver, and Michelle O’Caroll