Three-year sponsorship for Irish Forest Rally Championship

Motorsport: Organisers of the Irish Forest Rally Championship received a major boost at their awards ceremony in Clonmel on Saturday night with the announcement that Valvoline will underpin the series for the next three seasons.

The 2015 Valvoline series will begin with a new event – the Donegal Rally — in January and will include the Mayo Rally that also makes its debut in the seven round series that features two events in Northern Ireland. Confirming the three year deal, Valvoline’s Business Manager (Ireland), Tony Daforno said: “The passion and commitment that rallying has in Ireland is something that aligns very much with what Valvoline see themselves as being a key part of what we are all about. The excitement is very clear in terms of what in generates and this year, with the title going right down to the wire between three drivers, was perfect.”

The rounds and dates of the 2015 Valvoline Irish Forest Rally Championship are: 1. Donegal (January 31); 2. Willie Loughman Carrick on Suir (March 1); 3. Munster Moonraker (April 12); Jim Walsh Cork (August 23). 6. Lakelands, Enniskillen (September 5); 6. Mayo (October 18); 7. Glens of Antrim (November 7).

It is anticipated that the Tipperary Sean Conlon Memorial Rally and the ALMC Rally that were part of the 2014 season will return to the series in 2016.

Meanwhile, having led for the past two seasons but denied victory, Paul Bird (Ford Focus WRC) made it third time lucky by winning the Grizedale Rally in the Lake District. He finished 33 seconds ahead of the Mitsubishi of Alex Allingham. Londoner Michael O’Brien and his Cork co-driver, James O’Brien, had a difficult time as their Ford Focus WRC encountered handling problems in the six stage event.

The third round of the Motorsport Ireland Navigation Trial at Ballinalee, Longford resulted in a tie, with the Longford pair of Colin Duffy/Sam Johnston (Subaru Impreza) and the Longford/Monaghan duo of Pakie Duffy/Evin Hughes (Subaru Impreza) both traversing the entire route without incurring penalties. Duffy/Hughes retain the series lead. The Semi-Expert crew of Aaron Duffy/Laurence Keenan (Subaru Impreza) were third overall.

In the sixth round of the Irish Rallycross Championship at Mondello Park, Declan Kelly won both the Super Car final and the Super final. In bizarre circumstances he drove alone in the Super Car final after his only rival, Wexford’s Tomás O’Rafferty, was ruled out after damaging his car in the heats.

Meanwhile, Kildare’s Tommy Graham (Ford Escort) was on pole for the Super final but Dubliner Kelly got off to a flying start and went on to take the chequered flag. Although Graham was only a car length behind all through, he had no answer to Kelly’s more powerful Fiesta.

Earlier, Graham won the Modified final and Paul Doyle came out on top in the Civic final.

The Cavan Autocross at Latton Quarry was won by Oldcastle’s Chris Snow (Jr). Local driver Joe Smith (Ford Escort), who led initially, took second to clinch the MC Blinds Cavan Quarrycross Championship.

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