FINISHING in seventh place, Ballylickey’s Daniel Cronin (Fiesta R5) was the best local driver in the Quality Hotel West Cork Rally – remarkably, his first time competing.
Debuting a new TRIA-liveried Fiesta R5, Cronin took time to settle but gradually improved during Saturday’s eight stages.
Baltimore’s Stephen Carey and his Skibbereen co-driver Nicole Roycroft were 13th overall and second in Class 2, which was won by Derry’s Callum Devine (Fiesta R2). The Billy Coleman Award winner set a scintillating pace to claim 11th overall as he continued to get seat time ahead of his exploits in the junior category of the World Rally Championship. Indeed, Devine had probably the drive of the rally. Carey continues to acclimatise to his Fiesta R2 as he discovers its true potential, his only moment came on the penultimate stage but he reacted quickly to avert a trip to the scenery.
Dunmanway’s David Guest (Mitsubishi) had a comfortable lead in Group N until he broke a driveshaft on the fifth stage. After SS6, he trailed new leader Willie Mavitty (Mitsubishi) by two minutes and 5.2 seconds, Guest fought his way back to finish second in the category and closed the deficit to Mavitty to 37.1 seconds.
Enniskeane co-driver Seán Hayde and his Clashmore driver Brian O’Keeffe (Mitsubishi) were third in Group N. Kilcrohane’s Jer O’Donovan (Subaru) and his Union Hall co-driver Derek Tobin finished one place behind Guest and his co-driver Jonathan McGrath.
In the national event, Dunmanway’s Jason McSweeney (Mitsubishi) and his Ballyvourney co-driver Anthony O’Conaill finished fourth overall. Tyre choice on Saturday was an issue and on the Rossmore stage on Sunday, tyres again proved to be a problem. Another Dunmanway driver Conor McCarthy, co-driven by Cill na Martra’s JJ Cremin were sixth in general classification, they lost power steering and also had tyre problems. They were first and second respectively in Class 20.
The historic section was won by Ovens driver Owen Murphy (Talbot Sunbeam) and co-driver Anthony Nestor.
Two West Cork drivers, Rosscarbery’s Jason O’Mahony (Ford Escort) and Lisavaird’s Cathal McCarthy (Mitsubishi), won their respective classes with impressive drives. O’Mahony, who was co-driven by his brother Jonathan, had a great event and won Class 14 by over two and half minutes. Throughout the 14 stages, their Escort was trouble-free, their only indiscretion was a time-consuming overshoot on the second stage at Clogagh. They lost about 25 seconds on a gravel lane before they got back on the stage. Lisavaird’s Cathal McCarthy and his Donoughmore co-driver Bernard Foley also enjoyed a good outing. During Saturday’s leg, they softened the suspension and it resulted in a much-improved performance.
In the lead-up to the Quality Hotel West Cork Rally, the TROA, organisers of the Irish Tarmac Championship, announced that Clonakilty Blackpudding are re-joining the series and along with Michelin as associate sponsors of this year’s series.
Title sponsors for the past four years, Clonakilty Blackpudding were always keen on continuing their involvement, albeit at a lesser scale. Meanwhile, Michelin, who have been involved with all the Irish rally championships and its competitors for several years, will continue to promote their brand through the medium of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship.
That anouncement followed a previous statement that the proposed arrangement for delivery of sponsorship from 2018 onwards by THL (Tipp Holdings Limited/Dance to Tipperary) will not proceed.