Down Rally - 22 Oct 11

Posted: February 21, 2012 4:07 PM - 10010 Hits

Round 6 - 2011 Irish National Forestry Championship
Round 9 - 2011 Northern Ireland Rally Challenge
Round 7 - 2011 Ford Fiesta SportTrophy Ireland

Photos: KG Rally Pics

Stephen Wright on the mark in Down Rally

Posted: February 21, 2012 4:07 PM

Stephen Wright from Newbliss Co.Monaghan had the best result of his career on Saturday’s Down rally, the final round of the 2011 Valvoline Forest Rally Championship. The 21 year old finished third overall and first of the Valvoline Championship crews. Wright was at the wheel of his Evo6 and codriven by his sister Suzanne. .

The early leaders of the Valvoline section of the rally were Frank Kelly (Escort Mk2) and Vincent Mc Aree (Evo9). However Mc Aree retired on stage three whilst in the lead with a broken sump and Kelly put his Escort off on stage five. Wright then took over the lead through stages six and seven of an increasingly slippery event and he exercised great maturity to register his first win in the Valvoline Championship. Enda Mc Nulty , who was best Valvoline driver on the previous round Omagh rolled out on the first stage.

The Valvoline podium was completed with James Coleman, second in his Escort Mk2 and Patsy Keenan who commutes from Atlanta, third in his Evo9.

Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan Win Down Rally

Posted: February 21, 2012 3:47 PM

Donagh Kelly and co-driver Kevin Flanagan took their first victory on the 2011 FMCCL Down Rally which hosted the Hankook NI and the Valvoline Irish Forest Rally Championships and was supported by Down District Councils Tourism Event Sponsorship Scheme.

The Castlewellan based event attracted over 40 crews who travelled from all corners of Ireland, with one crew making the journey from Kings Lynn in England and another driver, Patsy Keenan, even travelling from the USA for the weekend.

Down District Council Chairman, Councilor Colin McGrath flagged the cars away from the Lower Square in Castlewellan, with the crews being led off by two times winner Kenny McKinstry and Kenny Hull.

At number two was Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan. Donagh and Kenny McKinstry have been embroiled in a private battle on the last two events – with McKinstry having to settle for second on the last two rounds, but with wins on the last two Down Rally’s, McKinstry was hoping to change his fortunes.

Leading Valvoline Championship contender Enda McNulty was next up in his Subaru Impreza, having a few good results on the Down Rally in recent years. Enda was expected to battle for Championship position with the Monaghan crew of Vincent and JP McAree. Other crews in the top end of the entry list included the rapid MkII Escort of Frank Kelly and Banbridge drivers Emma McKinstry and John McGaffin.

Dromara driver Stuart Biggerstaff, the 2010NI Champion, had planned to start the event at number three, but late gearbox trouble with his Subaru prevented him from making the start.

It was Kelly who kicked off the event by setting fastest time on stage one in Drumkeeragh with McKinstry just 1 second behind, but it was McNulty who made all the news on the first stage, putting his Subaru on its side just 1 mile into the test and blocking the road for a short time.

Once the blockage was cleared, the crews made their way to the McKinstry Motorsport sponsored Tollymore Stage. McKinstry was fastest this time by just 1 second ahead of Donagh Kelly with the two returning to the first service in Castlewellan Forest Park tied for the lead.

Vincent McAree had capitalized on the retirement of Enda McNulty to lie third ahead of the Escort of Frank Kelly with Stephen Wright, Raymond Mason and Emma McKinstry not far behind.

With the cars re-fettled, McKinstry started the middle loop of the event by going 6 seconds faster than Donagh Kelly on stage three, the P&R Motors Rostrevor test, only for Kelly to take 2 seconds back on stage four in Tollymore and then slash another 2 back on stage five in Castlewellan Park to return to second service just 2 seconds in arrears to Kenny

Frank Kelly moved up to third with the retirement of Vincent McAree on stage three with Stephen Wright, Raymond Mason and Trevor Ferguson filling out the top six.

At the front of the field, a final push was needed by both McKinstry and Kelly if victory was to be assured. Stage five was a repeat of the earlier P&R Motors Rostrevor stage, where McKinstry had been quickest by 6 seconds. This time McKinstry was fastest again but only by 1 second so all was to play for on the final 4.5 miles in Castlewellan Park.

With just 3 second of a lead, McKinstry headed into the last stage but part way through, the Subaru slithered off the road briefly, losing 17 seconds to his rival.

So it was Donagh Kelly who emerged victorious on the FMCCL Down Rally. At the finish, Donagh said “We have started the event six times and have finished runner up a few times so it’s good to win the Down Rally at last.”

The third win in a row eluded McKinstry in the end, who still managed to finish runner up this time. Third overall was Stephen Wright, who was the highest placed Valvoline Championship contender after Frank Kelly crashed out on stage six. Regular Down Rally contender Raymond Mason turned in another strong performance to hold off Trevor Ferguson in fifth ahead of Banbridge lass Emma McKinstry at six.

Top two-wheel-drive went to Oran Donnelly in seventh with husband and wife crew James and Heather Kennedy in eighth. The top local crew were Paul Killen and Richard Nelson in ninth with southern crew James Coleman and Kaye Shanahan rounding out the top ten.

Other local crews to feature well in the results were Niall Branniff and Barry Savage from Castlewellan - both of them winning their classes- JT Warnock from Ballykinlar, Downpatrick businessman Fintan McGrady and Christian Cochrane from Seaford.


Posted: February 21, 2012 3:44 PM

Donagh Kelly/Kevin Flanagan Wins Down Rally Thriller!

Posted: February 21, 2012 3:37 PM

Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan secured victory at last weekend's FMCCL Down Rally, round nine of the Hankook MSA Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship!

Driving their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9, Kelly snatched victory on the final stage of the event after Kenny McKinstry and Kenny Hull slipped briefly off the road.

While Kelly set the pace on the opening stage, it was McKinstry who snatched the lead after stage three when he powered into a six second lead. Then Kelly returned fire, reducing his lead to just two seconds after the fifth stage, when McKinstry lost time with a puncture.

With just two stages remaining, it was all to play for, and McKinstry was fastest through the penultimate test, increasing his lead to three seconds.

But the final stage was a repeat run through Castlewellan, the same stage that saw McKinstry lose time with a puncture earlier in the day. And for the Banbridge pilot, Castlewellan was to be his Achilles heel once again.

The McKinstry Subaru slid off the road during the test, and precious seconds ticked away as the crew struggled to get back on track. Around 20 seconds were lost before they were on their way again, but their hopes of victory were dashed.

Instead, Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan arrived at the finish victorious in their Evo 9. They were also the leading Sunoco Fuels Group N crew, and sealed victory by 14 seconds, while Kenny McKinstry and Kenny Hull were forced to settle for second.

Stephen and Suzanne Wright completed the top three in their Mitsubishi, with Raymond Mason and Peter Martin fourth. Trevor Ferguson and David McElroy finished fifth while Emma McKinstry and Tommy Speers completed the top six. Emma also sealed the Ladies' Championship title.

Topping the two-wheel-drive category, Oran Donnelly and Eamon Gallagher took the award as well as seventh overall, with James and Heather Kennedy next in line ahead of Paul Killen and Richard Nelson.

Finally, in the Montgomery Motorsport Historic category, Andy Johnson and Jim McSherry were the sole finishers in their Vauxhall Chevette.


Posted: February 21, 2012 3:27 PM

1 Donagh Kelly/Kevin Flanagan (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 GpN) 38m59s
2 Kenny McKinstry/Kenny Hull (Subaru Impreza WRC) 39m13s
3 Stephen Wright/Suzanne Wright (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6) 40m42s
4 Raymond Mason/Peter Martin (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) 40m49s
5 Trevor Ferguson/David McElroy (Subaru Impreza N12) 41m53s
6 Emma McKinstry/Tommy Speers (Subaru Impreza WRC) 42m17s
7 Oran Donnelly/Eamon Gallagher (Ford Escort Mk2) 42m34s
8 James Kennedy/Heather Kennedy (Ford Escort Mk2) 43m50s
9 Paul Killen/Richard Nelson (Ford Escort Mk2) 43m59s
10 James Coleman/Kaye Shanahan (Ford Escort Mk2) 44m01s

Leaders After
SS1-2 Donagh Kelly/Kevin Flanagan (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 GpN)
SS3-6 Kenny McKinstry/Kenny Hull (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS7 Donagh Kelly/Kevin Flanagan (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 GpN)

Stage Winners:
SS1 Donagh Kelly/Kevin Flanagan (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 GpN)
SS2 Kenny McKinstry/Kenny Hull (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS3 Kenny McKinstry/Kenny Hull (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS4 Donagh Kelly/Kevin Flanagan (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 GpN)
SS5 Donagh Kelly/Kevin Flanagan (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 GpN)
SS6 Kenny McKinstry/Kenny Hull (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS7 Donagh Kelly/Kevin Flanagan (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 GpN)

Mc Nulty and Mc Aree go head to head again

Posted: October 19, 2011 11:30 AM

Next Saturday’s Down rally is the final round of the 2011 Valvoline Forest Rally Championship. On the penultimate round the Bushwhacker rally, Enda Mc Nulty driving a Group A Impreza edged out the Evo 9 of Vincent Mc Aree, by a margin of five seconds. Third place was claimed by Frank Kelly just a mere three seconds behind Mc Aree with Viv Hamill four more seconds in arrears. Such was the closeness of the competition that a mere fourteen seconds covered the first four places. Owen Murphy finished fifth and claimed the 2011 Valvoline Forest Rally Championship.

The rivalry between Mc Nulty and McAree will be renewed on Saturday on the forest tracks of south Down. While the big Valvoline prize has been claimed by Murphy on the Bushwhacker, all the other class awards are up for grabs on the Down rally, including the 2WD and junior classes.

Hosted by the Rathfriland MC and based in Castlewellan, the event will follow a similar format to last year, with the start and finish at Kings Inn in Lower Square. Centralised servicing will be in Castlewellan Forest Park. Seven special stages are planned in Rostrevor, Tollymore, Drumkeeragh, and Castlewellan with a total competitive distance of 64km/40 stage miles.

The Down rally is also a round of the Hankook Northern Ireland championship and Fiesta Sport Trophy Ireland series.

Seeded Entry List

Posted: October 17, 2011 7:56 PM

McKinstry tops the 2011 Down Rally Entry list……….

Posted: October 17, 2011 11:36 AM

Banbridge pair, Kenny McKinstry and co-driver Kenny Hull, head the entry list for the 2011 FMCCL Down Rally as competitors from all over Ireland make their way to the start ramp in Lower Square, Castlewellan on Saturday morning.

McKinstry, who has already been crowned 2011 Hankook MSA NI Rally Champion with six wins so far this season, returns to the Down Rally aiming to make it three wins in a row after his convincing victories in 2009 and 2010. However, he will face some stiff opposition this year from Group N ace Donagh Kelly and 2010 NI Champion Stuart Biggerstaff, from Dromara.

Kelly has been the danger man of late, challenging for overall victory on both the Lakeland Stages and the Bushwhacker Rally in recent weeks in his Mitsubishi Lancer. Biggerstaff comes to his local event after a fraught season so far, but with his pace steadily increased during the year he has been able to match McKinstry for outright speed recently and his first overall victory can’t be too far away.

The Valvoline Irish Forest Championship makes a welcome return to the event with Enda McNulty, Vincent McAree, Stephen Wright and Patsy Keenan, who fly’s in from Atlanta in the USA for the event, leading the challenge for top points in the series.

James and Heather Kennedy lead the top two wheel drive challengers ahead of Ballymena’s Oran Donnelly and Monaghan’s Michael Conlon and other local interest includes Ballykinlar’s Sean Warnock, Christian Cochrane and Paul Killen from Downpatrick and Niall Branniff and Barry Savage from Ballynahinch.

The Fiesta Sport Trophy Ireland makes its first visit to the Down Rally, with five cars expected to make the start, headed by Enniskillen’s Stephen Baxter and Omagh brothers Declan and Dara Leonard.

The 2011 event, which is supported by Down District Councils Tourism Event Sponsorship Scheme, will follow a similar format to last year, with the start in Lower Square in Castlewellan at 10 am before 7 stages, including the McKinstry Motorsport Tollymore and P&R Motors Rostrevor tests before the champagne finish back at the Lower Square around 5pm. The cars will return service in Castlewellan Forest Park throughout the day.

The organisers have again produced a free Spectator Information Guide which is available from the Kings Inn, Lower Square, Castlewellan from Friday 21st October.
Followers can also download a Spectator Guide from Wednesday onwards from the club website which will give them all the information they need to get to and safely watch the action.

The event will also enjoy regular radio updates, just after the hourly news on Downtown and CoolFm Radio, courtesy of Carsport Magazine and fans can also keep up to speed with the live results at

Top Five starters:

    1. Kenny McKinstry/Kenny Hull – Subaru Impreza WRC
    2. Donagh Kelly/Kevin Flanagan – Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9
    3. Stuart Biggerstaff/tbc – Subaru Impreza WRC
    4. Enda McNulty/Paul Sheridan – Subaru Impreza WRX
    5. Raymond Mason/Peter Martin – Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9

Down Rally Seeding Deadline Fast Approaching...

Posted: October 10, 2011 12:48 PM

With entries steadily growing for the 2011 FMCCL Down Rally, competitors are reminded that the deadline for inclusion on the published entry list is Friday 14th October.

With the bulk of the entries expected to arrive this week, the organisers urge any competitor who has not already sent off an entry to contact the event secretary by email ( before the 14th so that they can be included in the seeding process.

Rally Guide 1, Supplementary Regulations & Entry Forms Now Available

Posted: September 19, 2011 2:36 PM

Available at:

Provisional Event Details

Posted: September 12, 2011 12:53 PM

Available at:

Event Website / Details

Posted: January 2, 1990 3:05 PM

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