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Munster Moonraker Forestry - 13 May 07

Posted: May 15, 2007 6:48 AM - 12270 Hits

Round 4 - 2007 National Forestry Championship

  • Tied for time, yet Moore still the master. Event Report
  • More Photos
  • Stephen Moore/Tony McHugh win on a Tie Break!
  • Full Results and Times
  • Photos

Munster Moonraker Forestry - 13 May 07

Posted: May 15, 2007 6:48 AM

Tied for time, yet Moore still the master. Event Report
The 2007 Hankook National forestry championship has provided some of the most exciting Irish Motorsport in the season so far, and the East Cork based Moonraker rally was expected to be no different. However little prediction could have to forecast such an exciting and competitive event.

Light showers taunted the 85 crews as they left the Midleton Park Hotel and headed toward the opening 5km of Knockakeo. This skit of rain was sure to make the open first test quite slippy in a few key places. No 1 seed Guy Wilks was making a fleeting visit from his British and World championship programmes to tackle the event in a McKinstry S9 Subaru WRC. The support for the event provided for Guy by www.rallyinsurance.co.uk and the directions for the weekend being provided by former forestry champion co driver Paul Nagle. The pace set by the pair on the slippy first test was described by Guy as “cautious and relaxed” yet the clocks would show it as unsurprisingly the time to beat at 3:24 and 6 seconds ahead of next challenger championship leader Stephen Moore and his co driver Tony McHugh

Stephen was just 3 seconds ahead of Brian McGillin and David Doherty in the Hyundai as they tied on 3:33 with Sean Devine & Andrew Purcell in the S9 Subaru. Top Group N time was set by Keith Cronin & Anthony O Connell in the Hankook backed Mitsubishi and top 2 wheel drive was Frank Kelly & Liam Brennan as the Escort crew made their customary flying start but with only a scant 2 second advantage over the chasing Seamus O Connell & Brian Duggan.

If the first stage was a warm up then the second stage was to be the eye opener. Feared and adored in equal measure the Vee stage has always been a classic stage used by the Munster car club for many years. This year it was to take a new direction literally as it was for the first time ran in the reverse direction by taking on an anti clockwise format for 07. A murky mist descended on the stage as Guy Wilks & Paul Nagle left the start line, this mist was very localised and was only a factor for the first few KM of the stage but as the mist was to evaporate so too was the electric pace of the Wilks steered Rallyinsurance.co.uk Subaru. Spectators reported Wilks as magic to watch on the fast downhill section but unfortunately soon after this his gearbox was to jam itself in 6th gear and there ended what was promising to be a brilliant drive.

Keith Cronin then went on to be the hero of the stage with a blistering time 3 seconds up on Sean Devine who in turn was tied with Stephen Moore. This meant Moore was the new leader of the event with McGillin second and Devine third. Kevin O Kane and Martin Brady limped through the stage with a failing gearbox which was soon to cause their early retirement and the resulting loss of second place in the championship points. Pete McCullagh navigated by Andrew Lehane in his Evo 7 Mitsubishi was the next quickest Grp N challenger behind Cronin and the status quo in 2wd was Kelly still marginally ahead of O Connell as Adrian Hetherington & Gary Nolan had to park their Escort with half shaft failure.

The rally moved to service after SS3 and still it was Moore & McHugh in the lead but a blistering time by McGillin in stage 3 saw the gap narrowed to only 7 seconds. Devine was right there in the hunt too only 11 seconds back and holding 3rd. While the Grp N battle was between 4th & 5th placed Cronin and McCullagh with the Cork student Cronin having just over 20 seconds of an advantage.

Stage 4 saw McGillin & O Doherty claim the top of the timesheets as their own once more with Devine & Purcell second and Focus crew Moore & McHugh in 3rd. However it was stage 5 the return visit to the notorious Vee where Mc Gillen really blew the battle wide open with a fastest time again. This time he was taking 9 seconds from Devine but a significant 20 seconds from Moore to leave Omagh man McGillin lead the rally in his Hyundai WRC by 25 seconds.

Yet this good fortune was to turn just as quickly as McGillin was to puncture on SS6 Scart Mountain and this rapid deflation also caused a spin meaning the Hyundai completed the stage loosing 25 seconds to Moore and entering service dead even on times and having 2 stages left to battle over.

Sean Devine was secure in 3rd but uncomfortable with the handling of his Subaru and feeling it was costing him time, a suspension change in service was planned in an effort to improve matters. This added to a wiper failure meant Sean had realistically lost the chance to be right with the leading pair but a quick thinking repair by Devine and co driver Purcell saw them sporting a well engineered single wiper solution that even MacGyver would struggle to better.

Away from the leading battle it was still Frank Kelly who had command of the 2wd honours and was on course once more to take home the Superdrive award for top competitor in this hard fought class. Lost from this battle was Seamus O Connell and co driver Brian Duggan as they suffered the same fate as Hetherington when a broken half shaft left them with lots of grunt but no worthwhile forward motion. In Grp N it was still Cronin & O Connell in the Hankook backed Mitsubishi Evo 7 who were keeping a respectable gap ahead of the similar Hankook shod Evo 7 of Pete McCullagh & Andrew Lehane. They were in turn comfortably ahead of the next Grp N drivers Colum Mc Bride and Eamon McElvaney.

Crews heading for a class win at this point included Mick O Connor & Sinead O Keefe in a Peugeot. They were just ahead of the Piggot Family in their Honda they were celebrating 37years of married life as they slid along the gravel of the Moonraker stages. In Class 2 it was the domain of James & Rachel Fagan in their pristine Mk2 Escort just ahead of the Dineen brothers in their Corsa. Class 3 which had ten eager finishers was won by Mossie Fitzgerald & Jimmy Deane in a Toyota. In Class 4 it was Michael O Sullivan & Brian O Connor who took their Ford Escort to the winning slot.

Then Class 6 was well secured by Mickey McGillin & Sean Hyde as they took the victory in this the clubman Group A category. Finally class 9 was the scene of success for Monaghan crew Stephen Wright & Gregory McQuillan in their Vauxhall.

So with the head of the field leaving service for the final 2 stages, the battle was to be decided over the 9.5km of Coolatour and 5km of Knockakeo2 which was to be in reverse of the morning visit to that stage. First blood went to McGillin & O Doherty as they took 1 second from Moore to leave them leading by that same one second.

Yet Stephen Moore & Tony McHugh have not earned their sweep of victories in this series by being meek and cautious. They stormed their Focus through the final short stage to take back the one second from McGillin and force the result of the days hard fought rallying to a tie break! The rules say last man fastest gets the win, and this being Moore who was fastest at the death right when it counted meant he was once again crowned the victor ably assisted by his co driver Tony McHugh and their 2005 spec Ford Focus Wrc.

It was a close fought day and so so near for Brian McGillin with the Omagh man almost taking his maiden victory in the Hankook series. Yet having shown the pace he commanded all day long it is another signal that his day is drawing ever closer. Sean Devine & Andrew Purcell took an unchallenged 3rd overall with a minute in hand of 4th placed Group N victor Keith Cronin & Anthony O Connell. It was Pete McCullagh and Andrew Lehane who took runner up to Cronin in Grp N and 5th overall, this result proving the early season pace of this crew is right up there when not blighted by mechanical troubles.

As with every round of the championship this year the top 2wd crew win the Superdrive prize and with it comes a voucher from www.superdriveni.com for part payment of entry fees for another round of the Championship to the value of €150.00 for first 2WD and €75.00 for 2nd place 2WD. This round the victor was Frank Kelly & Liam Brennan in their Mk2 Escort and second placed recipient of the Superdrive award was Mossie Fitzgerald & Jimmy Deane in their Toyota Corolla.

In Overall Hankook Forestry Championship terms this victory just adds even more cement to the strong footing of Stephen Moore at the head of the points table. Yet another maximum score for Moore means his perfect record of taking home every available point in the championship stays intact. However this is rallying and anything can happen and McGillin is the man on the challenging trail and he will be no doubt right there to catch Moore if given even a slight opportunity.

Undoubtedly the fourth round of the 2007 Hankook Tyres National Forest Rally Championship lived up to its promise as yet another exciting and hard fought event right through the field. The next round of the championship will be in Monaghan. The event is being expertly prepared for by Monaghan motor club and is scheduled for Sunday 10th June will go ahead as planned contrary to unfounded rumour. The event committee expresses their wishes to acknowledge the understanding and co-operation received from the local Wildlife Ranger and the local Forester.

This will be the 4th consecutive running of the event since it was revived in 2004. As in previous years, the event will be based in the village of Threemilehouse. The format remains the same with 7 stages located at Dartry, Knockatallan and Esh giving a total stage length of 60km approx.

The stages are in good condition and the club is looking forward to the support of competitors old and new.

1 Stephen Moore/Tony McHugh (Ford Focus WRC) 45m 42s
2 Brian McGillin/David Doherty (Hyundai Accent WRC) 45m 42s
3 Sean Devine/Andrew Purcell (Subaru Impreza WRC) 46m 05s
4 Keith Cronin/Anthony O'Conaill (Mit. Lancer Evo 7) GpN 47m 06s
5 Peter McCullagh Jnr/Aidan Lehane (Mit. Lancer Evo 7) GpN 47m 32s
6 Frank Kelly/Liam Brennan (Escort Mk2) 48m 00s
7 Colum McBride/Rodney Hicks (Mit. Lancer Evo 9) GpN 48m 46s
8 Eamon McElvaney/Alison Treanor (Subaru Impreza N10) GpN 50m 15s
9 Pat O'Connell/Mark Wiley (Mit. Lancer Evo 6) GpN 50m 27s
10 Sean Heaney/Liam McLoughlan (Mit. Lancer Evo 6) GpN 50m43s

Leaders After:
SS1 Guy Wilks/Paul Nagle (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS2-3 Stephen Moore/Tony McHugh (Ford Focus WRC)
SS4-5 Brian McGillin/David Doherty (Hyundai Accent WRC)
SS6 Brian McGillin/David Doherty (Hyundai Accent WRC)
& Stephen Moore/Tony McHugh (Ford Focus WRC)
SS7 Brian McGillin/David Doherty (Hyundai Accent WRC)
SS8 Stephen Moore/Tony McHugh (Ford Focus WRC)
& Brian McGillin/David Doherty (Hyundai Accent WRC)

Stage Winners
SS1 Guy Wilks/Paul Nagle (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS2 Keith Cronin/Anthony O'Conaill (Mit. Lancer Evo 7)
SS3 Brian McGillin/David Doherty (Hyundai Accent WRC)
SS4 Brian McGillin/David Doherty (Hyundai Accent WRC)
SS5 Brian McGillin/David Doherty (Hyundai Accent WRC)
SS6 Stephen Moore/Tony McHugh (Ford Focus WRC)
SS7 Brian McGillin/David Doherty (Hyundai Accent WRC)
SS8 Frank Kelly/Liam Brennan (Ford Escort Mk2) PRE EVENT NEWS
  • Programme Outlets
  • Event Preview - Moonraker ready to blast off.
  • Updates - Paul Nagle to co-drive Guy Wilks
  • Time and Distance Schedule
  • Entry list on line
  • Guys Wilks enters in McKinstry Subaru.
  • Regulations & Entry Form are now available

Topics: Moonraker Forestry 

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