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Apr
11
  Irish Notes
by Brian & Liz Patterson

What a great sporting variety last weekend provided. At home we had the Easter Stages and then the Circuit of Kerry, and on television and the computer we had WRC Corsica and Formula 1. While for a bit of variety we were able to turn to the golf at Augusta, the Commonwealth Games, and even Manchester United coming from behind to beat Manchester City!

On the Easter Stages it was a real treat to see Derek McGarrity in his fabulous Subaru overcome early soaking wet conditions to lead through the Friday leg, with Marty McCormack in his Skoda following Derek into the Friday finish. Much to McGarrity’s amazement, what was a perfect Impreza when he parked it, wouldn’t budge on the Saturday morning. The gear system on his S14 is controlled by electronics plus hydraulics. There wasn’t a flicker out of the system, although the engine was fine. End of rally. By now the weather was benign, if not Derek’s mood. Josh Moffett surged into the lead, closely followed by his brother Sam. Their R5 Fiesta’s were fairly singing through the Co. Antrim countryside. McCormack finished 3rd, but not registered for the Tarmac, so Robert Barrable, who finished 4th, took 3rd placed points. Jonny Greer finished 5th and Daniel Cronin 6th. Eugene Donnelly was 9th in his new Hyundai, and was slightly closer to the R5 pace towards the end. Best 2wd was Keith White in his amazing Mk1 Escort, Willie Mavitty took maximum Tarmac GpN points and Stanley Orr was best Historic, making it somewhat of a red letter day for “Mk1s”. Gary McNamee had a great run in his self prepared Honda to take the overall win as well as best ‘Tarmac Junior’ on the Saturday Rally.

On the French WRC round in Corsica there was early disappointment when Loeb put his Citroen into the ditch. Late on day two Kris Meeke did the same with his similar machine. Kris rejoined under Rally 2 on the Sunday, and because his excursion took place late in the day he didn’t lose a huge amount of time. OK, before the accident he had been in with a chance of 2nd behind Ogier. The Dungannon man then had to settle for 8th at the end. At least he was in the top ten. Kris then tied with Ogier for 3rd in the power stage, so he will get a few points from what was a tough rally. As for that man Ogier, he did his work early in the event to establish a respectable lead, and from there his M-Sport Ford Fiesta was never headed. Ott Tanak speeded up throughout the three days, as did Esapekka Lappi. Thierry Neuville wasn’t so far way either until a mechanical problem slowed him and he finished 3rd, with Tanak 2nd. Tanak was fastest in the power stage. Loeb was 2nd fastest in that one, and while running in ‘Rally 2’ purely for enjoyment, the 9 times former World Rally Champion set some stunningly fastest times. In the Junior WRC section, Callum Devine certainly didn’t let himself down, was well on the pace. He was a solid 3rd until his Fiesta sustained a puncture just before the end and he dropped a couple of places.

In Kerry Declan Boyle and Donagh Kelly swapped seconds throughout the day, with Donagh Kelly eventually winning by 16s, one of the deciding factors being that Boyle’s Fiesta WRC incurred a puncture. Former National Champion Roy White was over a minute further back. It would appear on the surface that Donagh Kelly and his fabulous 2 litre turbo Ford Focus WRC has the edge at the moment on the Triton series. No doubt Declan Boyle has other ideas, but there certainly doesn’t seem to be anyone else currently in the frame. Joe McGonigle was 4th in the Derek McGeehan Mini WRC, Daragh O’Riordan, making a welcome comeback, was 5th and Niall Maguire 6th. Trevor Bustard won GpN from Tomas O’Rourke, Chris Armstrong was best placed Escort, Stuart Darcy tops in 2WD, Mark Falvey won the Historic section in his Mk1 Escort and Jonny Treanor (Civic) set some very impressive times en-route to the Junior win. If Monaghan man Treanor had been doing the main rally, his times were good enough for a top ten finish.

Oh yes, and Rory didn’t win Augusta, nor Mercedes the GP, that honour going to Ferrari. It wasn’t a bad weekend for Honda though. As well as McNamee and Treanor winning the two Junior contests, 19 year old Pierre Gasley finished 4th in the Bahrain GP with his Honda engined Torro Rosso. No bull about that then. The Commonwealth Games? David Llewellin, former two times Circuit of Ireland winner, had the pleasure of seeing his son Ben, who has been dipping his toe in the rallying waters recently win a silver medal this week in the skeet shooting category.

Looking forward to this weekend coming, the home rally spotlight will focus on the forests around Ballyvourney for the Moonraker Rally. The Munster MC event has some of the best forest stage miles in the Valvoline Championship and has the potential to be one of the best rounds. Connor McCloskey (Fiesta R5) and Marty McCormack (Fabia R5) join top contenders such as Josh Moffett, Barry McKenna, Andrew Purcell and Stephen McCann. The points position at the top of the series is tight, with Purcell just 1 point ahead of McKenna. Stephen McCann, Ger Lucey and Josh Moffett are in close attendance. Mickey Conlon is 6th o/a and best of the two wheel drives in CL14, while David Crossen heads CL13 and has been hard at work this week preparing his Escort after the Easter Stages. His father Derek competed there in the Escort but was forced to retire when the prop shaft broke. Derek was flat in 5th gear when the prop broke, so he was not going so bad for a 71 year old!

On the subject of nice stages, Monaghan MC’s event takes place on the following weekend, 22nd April, and their stages struck us as being nothing short of brilliant! The rally is not a round this year of the Triton series. It is a slightly more streamlined event than usual. There are still 9 stages and the rally will be a more than worthy counter in the Border championship.

 
 
 



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