2011 Irish Forest Rally Championship

Posted: December 20, 2011 9:57 PM - 11322 Hits

Murphy masters the Valvoline Forest Championship

Posted: December 20, 2011 9:57 PM

2011 was another fabulous year for the Valvoline Forest Championship. This popular championship remained highly competitive throughout the season and it enjoyed good quantities of entries considering the recession. The six round series kicked off with a quartet of Forest rallies based in Munster, starting with the Sean Conlon rally at Mitchelstown followed by the William Loughman at Carrick-on-Suir, the Munster Moonraker at Lismore and the Jim Walsh Cork Forest out of Mallow. The final two rounds were hosted by Northern clubs, Omagh MC with the Bushwhacker and Rathfriland MC with the Down Rally.

The Valvoline Championship was dominated Owen Murphy and James O’Brien in the Mitsubishi Evo9.The first all-Cork crew to win this series, they were on the case from the start with victories in Mitchelstown and Carrick. A leaking radiator forced retirement on round three- the Moonraker- but Murphy bounced back with a maximum score at home in Cork. This was a very significant result from Murphy’s perspective, he now had three max scores from four starts. Another max score would see the Ballincollig man champion, no matter what the other drivers did. On the Bushwhacker, Murphy was delayed by another car on an early stage which pushed rally victory off the agenda. However, Murphy needed to finish ahead of Ryan and when the Cashel man went off, Murphy then needed to finish a few places behind Mc Aree, which he completed with mathematical accuracy. Murphy realised that fifth would see him over the line. In a pragmatic drive, the former karting champion and 2006 Billy Coleman award winner duly finished fifth and lifted his first rally championship.

While Murphy ran out winner with a total of 80 points, he had a margin of 7 points over Vincent Mc Aree. The race for second was a closer affair, Mc Aree (73) was one point ahead of Liam Ryan (72) who in turn had a point to spare in front of Stephen Wright.(71).Ger Lucey was fourth with 60 points.
Runner up was a great result for Vincent Mc Aree in his first full season in a four wheel drive car. Co driven by his brother John Paul, the Ballinode man finished a cautious fifth in Mitchelstown. In Carrick he was lying third in the daylight stages, but in the darkness he was fastest on each stage to claim second, 14 seconds behind Murphy. The Monaghan man had arrived, and he followed up with another second on the Moonraker, nine seconds behind Liam Ryan. This result put him into joint leadership of the championship. However a retirement followed in Cork following damage from a puncture and this result was a setback for his title aspirations .In Omagh, the Monaghan crew were second again, just five seconds behind the Group A car of Enda Mc Nulty. Mc Aree broke a sump while leading in Down which lead to retirement. In the Billy Coleman Award, McAree was a wild card nominee but the prize was claimed by fellow Monaghan driver Sam Moffet, winner of Group N in the national tarmac series.

Liam Ryan came to the Valvoline championship with little driving experience in recent years. In fact he was better known for his preparation work on the Evo 9 of Pat O’Connell, last years Forest Champion. At seasons end, Ryan’s driving CV was much enhanced. In Mitchelstown, his first rally in years, the Cashel driver played himself in with a careful sixth behind Mc Aree. In Carrick, Ryan was second to Murphy during the daylight stages. Then Mc Aree pounced in the dark and Ryan finished a fine third. In the Moonraker, Ryan showed real talent by claiming victory. This result was followed by a third place points in Cork putting Ryan and co-driver Aidan Bourke into overall lead in the championship. However an off road excursion in Omagh terminated his title aspirations and he non started the Down Rally, Ryan certainly made his mark. For a driver to win his first rally and lead the series in his debut season takes talent and determination.

Stephen Wright is yet another quick pilot from Monaghan. Like Ryan, Wright had only four scores in his Evo 6. Codriven by his sister Suzanne, he missed round one, but he was quickly into his stride with fourth in Carrick and Cork, third in Moonraker and he crowned his year with his first rally victory (and max points score) on the last round in Down. Bliss for the crew from Newbliss.

Family rallying continues in fifth position with the Ballyvourney brothers Ger and James Lucey. The former autocross champions had a grand total of sixty points .Ger has campaigned in the woods in his trusty Celica and the move to Evo8 allowed him to show his real potential. The Corkman competed on five rounds, with fine finishes in each, the best was 4th in the Moonraker.

DRIVERS: Owen Murphy 80,Vincent Mc Aree 73, Liam Ryan 72.
CO-DRIVERS James O’Brien 80, JP Mc Aree 73, Aidan Bourke 72

2WD Class.
While the Frank Kelly v Paul Fitzgerald show claimed all the headlines in this class, there was a very significant story in the performance of the juniors as well. This competitive class started when Frank Kelly drew first blood in Mitchelstown with Paul Fitzgerald fifth. Fitzgerald replied with wins in next two rounds. Kelly returned in Cork, winning 2WD, finishing 3rdoverall (just missing second by 3.2 seconds. Fitzgerald was third in this class behind Shane Mc Girr. After Cork Fitzgerald had a 76 against Kelly’s 42. A huge lead on paper but if Kelly got two max scores in his native province, he would be champ. On the penultimate round in Omagh, Kelly duly won while Fitzgerald had dreadful luck. The Corkman slid off on the last bend of the rally, no damage but no finish either. And so it went to the wire in Down. Kelly needed a max score to claim the title. However, the plan went belly-up, when the Moy man went off the road on stage 5 whilst leading the rally overall. Cue celebrations in Charleville where Fitzgerald was presented by an impromptu award by his followers). A feature of the 2WD this year has been the pace of the juniors, particularly Douglas Stewart and A feature of the 2WD this year has been the pace of the juniors, particularly Douglas Stewart and Derek Butler. Stewart was second in this class mid season in his Peugeot 206, thanks to finishing 4th in Moonraker and Cork. Butler was also very rapid in the Honda Civic, finishing 3rd in this class, thanks to claiming 5th in this class in the last three rallies. Stewart and Butler certainly impressed, as it takes skill and courage to get a 1600cc FWD car in among the high powered Escorts.
Further details of these drives will be given in the relevant class reports.

DRIVERS: Paul Fitzgerald 76, Frank Kelly 74, Derek Butler 62.
CO DRIVERS: Liam Brennan 84, Kaye Shanahan 74,Diarmiud O’Shea 59

Class 1 ( For cars up to 1450cc)
2011 has been a great year for Joe Shinnors Jnr. The season started with the disappointment of a blown engine in Carrick, but the Bruff man recovered to dominate this class with some fine driving in the rapid Nova. The season unfolded with class honours in the Moonraker, Cork and Down. resulting in a first ever championship class victory. Emmet Cronin was in good fettle mid season, leading the class thanks to two seconds in his Escort Mk2, he would surely have won in Carrick if he had not punctured. Third place was claimed by Andrew Fanning who had a year from hell in the woods with the Ford Ka. Despite a good win in Carrick Tristan Horan (Ka) was ineligible for an award, as he started less than three rounds.

DRIVERS:Joe Shinnors Jnr 34, Emmet Cronin 22, Andrew Fanning 3
CO-DRIVERS:Derry Healy 34,

Class 2 ( For cars up to 1.6 litre 8V)
This class was dominated by the Escorts of Liam Kelleher and Mick Nevin- who has won this class more times than he can remember. The records will show that this was a ding dong battle through the season, the first result going Nevin’s way in Mitchelstown. With Kelliher second. The roles were reversed on Carrick and the crews were level in the Valvoline Championship. Nevin went ahead with a win in Moonraker, when Kelliher retired and the opposite happened in Cork. As the championship left Munster Nevin had a narrow lead 34 points v 33. Nevin did not venture North and Kelleher scored two max scores to put the issue out of contention. Anthony Bulman was third thanks to third place on round one.

DRIVERS: Liam Kelleher 44, Mick Nevin 33, Anthony Bulman 11.
CoDrivers: John Duggan 44, Mike Garrahy 43, Michelle Walsh 11.

Class 3 (For cars up to 1.6 litre 16V)
As expected this was a very popular class with 11 registered crews. The sparks were expected to fly between Escort of Paul Fitzgerald and the Starlet RWD’s of Mick Cuddihy and Shane Mc Girr. Indeed it was Mc Girr who prevailed on round one, ahead of Cuddihy and Fitzgerald who retaliated with some great speed on the next three events, winning the class in Carrick, Moonraker and Cork. He was had the class won before his unlucky visit to Omagh. Mick Cuddihy was second in Mitchelstown and his local Carrick event and he retired in Moonraker. Mc Girr was third in Carrick. For the Moonraker his Starlet was had a two litre engine powering the little Starlet. As a result he was entered in class 5, but the man from Fivemiletown retired with transmission woes. Mc Girr returned to the series in Cork where he finished second to the flying Frank Kelly. As Fitzgerald also won the 2WD category, Cuddihy is winner of this class with Noel Wade runner up.

DRIVERS: Mick Cuddihy 21, Noel Wade 9.
CO-DRIVERS: James Dunphy 20, Eamon Tuohy 9.

Class 4 (For cars up to 2.0 litre 8V)
The story of this class is Alan Commins versus the Benskin family, all driving Escorts. Sean Benskin who won this class last year, was victorious again in 2011 thanks to three seconds and a third overall. His brother Ray was second with a win (Cork) second (Mitchelstown) and a third in Carrick. His son Ray Benskin Jnr had a win on round one and a fourth in round two, finishg fourth three points behind third place Commins. won in Carrick and Moonraker but his progress was halted with retirements in Mitchelstown and Cork.

DRIVERS:Sean Benskin 41, Ray Benskin 31, Alan COmmins 24
CO-DRIVERS: Joe Fitzgibbon 41,Peadar Walsh 31, JamesCOmmins 24.

Class 5 (For cars up to 2.0 16V)
Other than a non finish in Cork James Coleman had a reliable and successful year in his Escort. The Chairman of the Rallies committee had a win (Down), a two seconds (Mitchelstown and Moonraker) and a third place in Carrick. The evergreen Ed. Colton was runner up with a trio of good finishes in the 306. Shay Power (Escort) was third with a win in Carrick and a fourth in Mitchelstown. Power won the South East stages and he was also presented the JC Millard Memorial Trophy by Motorsport Ireland as the best clubman of the year. Frank Kelly would have been third in thus class but he was promoted to second 2WD. Kelly had three class wins to his credit.

DRIVERS: James Coleman 40, Ed.Colton 35, Shay Power 20,
CO-DRIVERS: Claire O’Mahoney 36, Michael Hally 30,John Rafter 20.

Class 6 (For Clubman Gp A cars)
Mark Murphy won this class last year and he had the best possible start to the year with a class win in Mitchelstown. There followed a fine run in the Impreza, the Bruff man leading the class until the start of the last round. Murphy had no retirements and he was runner up in Moonraker, Cork and Omagh. However Stephen Wright had a hat trick of wins in Carrick Moonraker and Cork. The Monaghan man was flying in the Evo6 and needed a max score from one of the two Northern events. While he was not discouraged with his retirement in Omagh, Wright went on to register his first rally victory in Omagh. In the process he won this class in the rally and championship. Danny Creedon completed the podium in this class thanks to second in Mitchelstown and fourth in Moonraker. Enda Mc Nulty was sixth,the Dungannon driver won this class and the rally on his home event in Omagh at the wheel of an Impreza.

DRIVERS: Stephen Wright 44, Mark Murphy 41, Danny Creedon 19.
CO-DRIVERS: Suzanne Wright 44,Carol O’Keeffe 42, Tom Foley 20.

Class 7 (WRC cars)
John Reid won this class in his familiar Corolla WRC. Reid lead Mitchelstown from the start but a spin on the last stage pushed him down to second. But he did collect max points in class 7, a feat he repeated in the Moonraker. A bout of flu forced the Dubliner Reid withdrew from Carrick after two stages. With the Corolla unavailable for Cork, Reid switched to an Evo9, but he failed to finish. Jereome Drislane was the class winner in Carrick (and fourth overall), but as the Corkman contested less than three rallies, no prize was awarded.

DRIVER:John Reid 24,
CODRIVER:Enda Shiels 24.

Class 8 (Group N cars)
With twelve registered drivers class eight proved the most popular in the series, With Owen Murphy, Vincent Mc Aree and Liam Ryan taking first second and third overall in the championship, the podium places in this class were taken by Patsy Keenan, Ger Lucey and Jer Connors. In a spirit of consistency, Keenan and Connors were first and second last year. Keenan takes the long trip from Atlanta for each round, but the jet lag does not interfere with his driving as he won his class in Down and he claimed two fourths and a fifth.

DRIVERS:Patsy Keenan 34, Ger Lucey 34, Jer Connors 29,
CO-DRIVERS: James Lucey 34, Martin Brady 23, Ray Fitzpatrick 21.

Class 9 (Juniors)
With 9 registrations, the junior class was greatly expanded on last year. The major players were Douglas Stewart and Derek Butler who were very competitive all season long. Butler made the best start with a win in Mitcelstown. Michael Walsh was second and Stewart third. However Stewart then put three wins together in his 206. In those three events Butler was second twice and seventh once in the Civic. As the crews headed North, Stewart had 42 points and Butler trailed by 6.A max score from Stewart on either of the Northern rallies would have locked out Butler, but Stewart failed to finish either event and Butler went on to claim two wins and claim the class by a point. As mentioned in the 2WD report above, the pace of these juniors was so impressive they made inroads in the two wheel drive class. Butler from Banteer was promoted to third in that class, allowing Stewart win first junior. Both Stewart and Butler were selected as finalists of the 2011 Billy Coleman award on the back of these results.

DRIVERS: Douglas Stewart 42,Michael walsh 21, Alan Kenna 17.
CO-DRIVERS: Billy Ryan 42, John Walsh 20.

Points after Final Round

Posted: October 24, 2011 2:08 PM

National Forest Rally Championship Prizegiving - (Sat) 5 Nov 11

Posted: October 21, 2011 12:42 PM

Bushwacker to replace Donegal Forest

Posted: August 15, 2011 8:15 PM

Following the postponement of Donegal MC?s Forestry Rally scheduled for July 23, it has been decided that the Omagh MC Bushwhacker Rally on September 24 will replace it as a counting round of the MI Valvoline National Forestry Rally Championship

Forest Class Prizes - Tyre Vouchers

Posted: February 4, 2011 9:27 AM

With agreement between tyre suppliers to Forest Rallying the championship organisers would like to announce the following prize schedule for all 9 classes on each event of the 2011 Valvoline Forest Rally Championship.

    The winner of each class on each round will receive a €75 tyre voucher.
  • The Vouchers will be drawn at random at the prize giving of each event.
  • Competitors may swap or trade the vouchers as they see fit.
  • Vouchers will be for forest tyres only.
  • Vouchers will only be valid up to and including the next round of the 2011 Valvoline Forest Rally Championship.
Thanks to
Ears Motorsport Kumho
Bill Adair Dunlop/Pirelli
Christy Carey Hankook
Tom Halliday D-Mack

Terms and conditions will apply. In addition to this there may be a draw for prizes for 2nd and 3rd in class.

2 Safety Notes Suppliers for 2011 Forest Championship

Posted: January 28, 2011 12:48 PM

"The Forest Championship Committee have worked closely with the Rallies Committee and Motorsport Ireland to develop guidelines to facilitate the supply of Safety Notes for Forest Rallies.

Patterson Agencies and Onthepacenote,com will now both be allowed supply safety notes for forest events run under an MI permit

The committee would like to thank Patterson’s for their commitment to the forest championship since the introduction of Safety Notes in the mid 1990’s. We would also like to welcome Killian Duffy to championship.

We would remind competitors that the notes supplied are strictly Safety Notes as recce is not permitted. A DVD to accompany the notes will be available from both suppliers. As many of the rallies are now held on Saturdays it has been agreed that notes may be distributed on the Friday week prior to the event. Notes and DVD will be available but as is the norm it is advisable to book your notes in advance"


Posted: January 27, 2011 4:25 PM

Junior Rallying in Ireland got a major boost with the announcement that top two junior drivers in the 2011 Valvoline National Forest Championship will be eligible for the Billy Coleman award. The six round series commences with the Tipperary MC Mitcelstown Rally on February 13th and the final round will be hosted by the Down MC on October 22nd.
Junior crews will compete in class 9 and they will run first on the road and traverse all the special stages of each rally.
Junior drivers must be under 26 years of age, compete in a car of 1,650 ccs (or less) and hold a Motorsport Ireland license. Previous winners of the prestigious Billy Coleman Award include household names like Craig Breen, Keith Cronin, Owen Murphy and Gareth Mc Hale.


Posted: January 27, 2011 4:05 PM

Killian Duffy of www.onthepacenote.com is delighted to announce that he will be supplying Safety Notes & Dvd's for all 6 rounds of the Valvoline Irish Forest Rally Championship.
The all new www.onthepacenote.com website is currently under construction but the facility is there to order notes for upcoming events via the current page.
Killian knows all too well about the expense of rallying, and keeping this in mind, has priced the notes very reasonably.
The notes ordered on-line for the Sean Conlon Tipperary Forestry Rally will be posted to competitors no earlier than Friday 4th February.
The facility will also be there for competitors to purchase notes for the event at Documentation sign on.

More than one supplier will be permitted to make safety notes and a DVD for forest rallies in 2011.

Posted: January 27, 2011 3:56 PM

More than one supplier will be permitted to make safety notes and a DVD for forest rallies in 2011.
See news article www.motorsportireland.com

National Forest Rally Championship welcomes Valvoline as series sponsor for 2011

Posted: December 24, 2010 10:35 AM

The forest sub committee are delighted to welcome Valvoline as title sponsor for the 2011 National Forest Rally Championship. This great news was received just before the Christmas break and championship chairman John Quill commented that “in light of all the tough weather and economic climate it great to have an international company that sees the merit in supporting Irish Forest Rallying”.

This deal is being brokered by regular forest competitor Andrew Fanning to whom the committee are very grateful for putting the package together. “Its great to help promote the 2011 Forest Championship after years competing on the series with support from Valvoline, Forest rallying is great craic and the lads your battling against are competitive but relaxed as forest events are not too stressful. Valvoline have a worldwide interest in motorsport and for them recognise the Irish market as a viable area in which to advertise is great. It proves the level of work being done in motorsport in Ireland is of a high standard.” commented Andrew whom many would know by his Valvoline backed Ford Ka.

Regulations for the series will be available shortly.
As the Tipperary event is 7 weeks away competitors are urged to start thinking ahead for the 2011 championship. There will be further press releases early in the New Year.

Championship Rounds (Revised)

Posted: December 24, 2010 10:33 AM


  1. 13 February Tipperary LCC Sean Conlon
  2. 6 March Carrick-on-Suir MC Wm. Loughman
  3. 10 April Munster CC Moonraker
  4. 24 September Omagh MCBushwacker
  5. 13 August Cork MC Jim Walsh
  6. 22 October Rathfriland MC Down Rally
    Cancelled - 23 July Donegal MC Forestry Rally

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