RETURNING to forest rallying for the first time in eight years, Ovens driver Owen Murphy took his Citroen C3 Rally2 to a sixth-place finish in the Cahir-based Sean Conlon Memorial Tipperary Forest Rally.
This was the second round of the Sligo Pallets Irish Forest Rally Championship.
For the second event in succession, Omagh’s Mark Donnelly (Ford Fiesta R5) emerged victorious, finishing 19.8s ahead of the Fiesta R5 of Derry’s Jordan Hone with a third Ulster driver, Vivian Hamill (VW Polo GTi R5), 9.3s further behind. Murphy, who is a former double Irish forest champion, held sixth position throughout the rally and was one minute and 3.9s behind the winner.
Cashel’s Pat O’Connell (Ford Fiesta R5) led after the opening stage with Donnelly 0.7s behind despite a spin that cost him around six seconds. The situation was unchanged after SS2 where they set identical times. On the final stage of the loop near Kilcoran, O’Connell retired after he slid off and damaged the suspension.
At the Cahir service Donnelly held a 15.2s lead over Hone. Carlow’s David Condell (Ford Fiesta R5) occupied third, 14.4s further behind. Murphy was untroubled in sixth spot and was content with the performance of his Citroen.
With Donnelly posting another fastest time, he stretched his lead over Hone to 21.2s after SS4 and took a steady run through SS5. Due to an accident on the final stage that required the deployment of the emergency services, albeit as a precaution, the top seeds were accorded a scratch time.
Elsewhere, Macroom’s Padraig McCarthy and his Clondrohid co-driver Eoghan McCarthy finished fourth in Class 11F. On what was only his second event in some five years, Padraig, campaigning a left-hand drive Peugeot 208 Cup car, improved his pace during the day’s six stages.
In the J1000 category that was won by Monaghan’s Tommy Moffett (Toyota Aygo), Youghal’s Ross Ryan, who was co-driven by The Pike’s Peter Keohane, took second place, 54.1s behind. They slid off the road after the flying finish of the final stage but in a fine display of sportsmanship, the crew of Cloyne’s Tommy Cronin (Toyota Aygo), who were third, extricated them from the scenery. The next round of the series is the rearranged Munster Moonraker Rally in Ballyvourney on June 25th.