ONCE again, Drinagh navigator Denis O’Donovan, partnered by Mallow’s Derek Butler (Subaru Impreza), came out on top in the recent Ahiohill-based Carbery Navigation Trial.
Organised by the Skibbereen and District Car Club and with status as round three of the Motorsport Ireland National Navigation Championship and round two of the Munster Navigation series, they finished the 85-mile event on a total of 11 penalties.
As expected Monaghan crews provided a strong challenge with the similar cars of Darragh Kelly/Oisin Sherlock (38 penalties) and Shane Dalton/Ryan Treanor (42 penalties) completing the top three.
The best West Cork crew was that of the Rosscarbery/Leap pairing of Brian O’Mahony/Amy Gallwey (Subaru); they won the Novice category and were seventh in overall classification.
Meanwhile, on what was her first-ever event (following a series of lectures on navigation) Glengarriff’s Saoirse Power, who was driven by East Cork’s Eugene Cronin (Toyota Starlet), finished third in the Beginner’s class. Indeed, she finished ahead of two more familiar and experienced co-drivers from the rally scene, Galway’s Martin Brady and Sean Hassett.
On the opening section, Butler/O’Donovan had O’Mahony/Gallwey as their nearest rivals and by TP 6, close to Ballinascarthy, the former were on one penalty with the latter on three penalties. Many of the other crews had issues navigating a somewhat complex series of lanes that included an underpass. The trio of Kelly/Sherlock, Dalton/Treanor and national championship leaders fellow Monaghan crew Michael Carbin/Conor Mohan (Subaru Impreza) all lost significant time.
Although former champions, Killeagh’s James Fitzgerald and Ballincollig’s Ken Carmody were third on five penalties by TP 6, they were forced to retire around TP 12, close to Ballineen when their Subaru developed mechanical problems. Their retirement has severely dented their national title hopes as it was the second retirement in a row. With the best six from eight events to count, they have already dropped those two rounds and given that they also had problems on the first round, they face an uphill, if not an impossible task.
Even though they held third overall at TP 17 near Coppeen, the terrain north-west of the region saw O’Mahony/Gallwey drop down the order, they eventually finished seventh and won the Novice category.
Meanwhile, leaders Butler/O’Donovan remained with a sole penalty until they lost time at Shanagh Cross Roads, TP 20. Just close to the Ahiohill finish, at TP 35, they had their final time loss as they went on to claim a decisive victory.
Afterwards, O’Donovan said, ‘I reckon that is my eighth win. It all worked pretty well for us. The plot and bash section was the most difficult part, but it was like that for everyone else too.’
O’Donovan remains second in the national series but has cut Conor Mohan’s advantage from 11 to five points. He added, ‘It was important to do that as well.’
Dalton/Treanor looked on course to finish second but incurred 20 penalties at TP 35 that allowed Kelly/Sherlock clinch the runner-up spot.
Results: 1. D. Butler/D. O'Donovan (Subaru Impreza) 11 penalties. Experts: 1. D. Kelly/O. Sherlock (Subaru Impreza) 38 pens; 2. S. Dalton/R. Treanor (Subaru Impreza) 42 pens; 3. R. O'Neill/P. O'Leary (Subaru Impreza) 48 pens. Semi Experts: 1. G. Collins/P. O’Sullivan (Subaru Impreza) 74 pens; 2. M. Hume/E. Hume (Subaru Impreza) 350 pens; Novice: 1. B. O’Mahony/A. Gallwey (Subaru Impreza) 99 pens. Beginners: 1. S. Leech/B. Attridge (Toyota Starlet) 160 pens; 2. P. McDonagh/P. Corcoran (Subaru Impreza) 170 pens; 3. E. Cronin/S. Power (Toyota Starlet) 254 pens.