REENASCREENA husband and wife James and Aoife Ronan (Honda Civic) were one of the many local crews to secure a class win in the Clonakilty Park Hotel West Cork Rally.
Indeed, they completed back-to-back wins in Class 11F after finishing 19.2s ahead of the similar car of Glanmire’s Aaron Browne and his Millstreet co-driver Derry Long. Berrings driver Shane Stanley and Innishannon’s Seán O’Crowley (Honda Civic) completed an all-Cork top three.
They led from the very first stage and overnight, held a 25-second advantage over another husband-and-wife crew, Clonakilty’s Eamonn and Lisa McCarthy (Honda Civic), who retired about a mile from the end of the very last stage with a blown engine, they also lost first gear on the opening stage.
Afterwards, James told The Southern Star: ‘We are delighted to win, everything went right from the very start and the car ran one hundred percent.’
On Sunday’s conditions he said: ‘Normally, I don’t really like wet conditions but we got on mighty, we just had to watch the shiny tar. We had a few moments alright, on Sunday’s first run over Ardfield, I just couldn’t stop at the first bus-stop chicane, so I pulled the handbrake and slid sideways into it (bale) and put a dent in the door, my side, nothing major!.’
On his favourite stage, he added: ‘Ring, the grip was savage. We will have to go for the hat-trick next year!’
Locals took the top three positions in Class 22, where Clonakilty’s Aidan Hennessy (Ford Fiesta) – making his rally debut, co-driven by Rosscarbery’s Andy O’Donoghue – took the lead on the third stage and were almost five minutes ahead when a drive broke on the first run of Ardfield (SS11), losing four minutes.
Then, on Shanaway 2, the first stage of the final loop, the intercooler failed and they dropped some five minutes and slipped to third. The Rossmore/Clonakilty crew of Séamus O’Donovan/Daniel O’Donovan (Honda Civic) were best placed to take advantage and went on to take the class win ahead of Skibbereen’s Pat Calnan and Leap’s Amy Gallwey, whose Honda Civic lost second gear on the first stage. Hennessy/O’Donoghue, best on the final stage, were third.
Dunmanway’s Conor McCarthy and his Dripsey co-driver Gavin Sheehan (Mitsubishi EvoIX) won Class 20. Opting for a steady pace, McCarthy’s main ambition was to finish the event. Bandon’s Vincy McSweeney and co-driver Michael Kearney were the early pacesetters and held a comfortable advantage prior to their retirement on SS6 Dunworley with a broken rear differential. McCarthy led from thereon and finished almost five minutes ahead of the Subaru of Limerick’s Colm Murphy and his Douglas co-driver Don Montgomery, who had a litany of problems throughout the rally.
Midleton’s Cian Walsh and his Barryroe co-driver Dylan Doonan took their Toyota Corolla to a fine victory in Class 13 from the Ardfield crew and brothers Eoghan and Conor Calnan (Ford Escort). In the Historics, Drimoleague’s George Swanton/Labhaoise Hyland (Ford Escort) won Class 17.