Waterford’s Andrew Purcell to set pace in Willie Loughman Forest Rally

Andrew Purcell (Mitsubishi) is likely to be the barometer of the pace on Sunday’s Willie Loughman Forest Rally, the first round of the Valvoline National Forest Rally Championship.

Purcell and his rivals will tackle the double loop of three stages, including the classic Gurteen. The Waterford driver took a fine win on his first outing in his Kumho-backed Mitsubishi EvoIX in the Fivemiletown Rally last Saturday, overcoming clutch troubles on the last four stages.

“Yes, the EvoIX is a big step forward, championship points will be the big thing on Sunday to get off to a good start. I have never had any luck in Carrick but, hopefully, that will change. Josh (Moffett), Desi (Henry) and Mick (O’Brien) will be strong.”

Though listed to compete in a Mitsubishi, Desi Henry could switch to his Subaru WRC and, having lost the Valvoline series by a solitary point last season, he will be keen to redress the issue. Former champion, London-based Michael O’Brien (Ford Focus WRC), journeys across the Irish Sea and teams up with Dromtarriffe’s James O’Brien for another championship assault.

Like Henry, Josh Moffett (Mitsubishi) had a solid campaign last season, but lost out on the final round. He has also earmarked the Valvoline title. Other entries are John Reid (Toyota Corolla WRC), the Mitsubishi quartet of Sam Moffett, Niall Henry, Gerard Lucey and Mark Murphy, and Subaru pair Ian Chadwick and Gabriel Martin.

HQ is at Carraig Hotel, with the first car away at 10.35am; the service park is at Carrick-on-Suir’s Mill River Business Park, with the finish set for 4.35pm. Meanwhile, the Donegal Forest Rally has been rescheduled for Mar 21.

While this week saw the second round of the Irish Rallycross Championship cancelled due to falling entries, with uncertainty about the remaining rounds, there was good news with the two sponsorship deals. The Cork “20” International Rally is to continue its association with Cork-based Acesigns. The rally on October 3/4 is the only round of the Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Championship to have bonus points, with 50% extra on overall and class points.

“It’s a great boost for us and the Acesigns people are very familiar with the sport,” said Colman Hegarty, clerk of the course, who also stated that interests in Fermoy are bidding for aspects of the rally to be based in the town.

Meanwhile, TV coverage of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship that began last weekend will be underpinned by the Monaghan transport and logistics company, Maguire International Ltd. The eight-round series is being filmed by On the Limit Sports for transmission on TG4, Sky Sports, Setanta, Motors TV and Irish TV.

Elsewhere, a decision has been reached by the tribunal of inquiry dealing with aspects arising from last year’s Wexford Rally. According to Alex Sinclair of Motorsport Ireland, the decision has been conveyed to those involved, but he wouldn’t confirm suspensions have been handed down. The decision will be made public once the appeal process has concluded, but we understand a six-month ban and a €1,000 fine has been handed to one competitor.

Reigning Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac champion Declan Boyle (Subaru WRC), Donagh Kelly (Ford Focus WRC), Sam Moffett (Ford Fiesta WRC), Josh Moffett (Ford Fiesta WRC) and Daniel Cronin (Subaru WRC) are confirmed for the Quality Hotel West Cork Rally making its debut in the series in just over two weeks. Fermanagh’s Garry Jennings (Subaru WRC) and Midleton’s Daragh O’Riordan (Ford Fiesta WRC) have also intimated their desire to compete.

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CourtsPurcellmitsubishiValvoline National Forest Rally ChampionshipPlace: WaterfordPlace: CarrickPlace: LondonPlace: Irish SeaPlace: Carraig HotelPlace: Carrick-on-SuirPlace: Mill River Business ParkPlace: CorkPlace: FermoyPlace: FermanaghPerson: Andrew PurcellPerson: PurcellPerson: GurteenPerson: JoshPerson: MoffettPerson: DesiPerson: HenryPerson: MickPerson: O’BrienPerson: Desi HenryPerson: Michael O’BrienPerson: James O’BrienPerson: Josh MoffettPerson: John ReidPerson: Sam MoffettPerson: Niall HenryPerson: Gerard LuceyPerson: Mark MurphyPerson: Ian ChadwickPerson: Gabriel MartinPerson: Colman HegartyPerson: Alex SinclairPerson: Declan BoylePerson: Donagh KellyPerson: Daniel CroninPerson: Garry JenningsPerson: MidletonPerson: Daragh O’RiordanEvent: Willie Loughman Forest RallyEvent: Valvoline National Forest Rally ChampionshipEvent: Fivemiletown RallyEvent: EvoIXEvent: ValvolineEvent: Donegal Forest RallyEvent: Irish Rallycross ChampionshipEvent: Cork “20” International RallyEvent: Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac ChampionshipEvent: Triton Showers National Rally ChampionshipEvent: Wexford rallyEvent: ClonakiltyEvent: Irish TarmacEvent: West Cork RallyOrganisation: MitsubishiOrganisation: KumhoOrganisation: Ford Focus WRCOrganisation: Toyota Corolla WRCOrganisation: SubaruOrganisation: AcesignsOrganisation: Maguire International Ltd.Organisation: On the Limit SportsOrganisation: TG4Organisation: Sky SportsOrganisation: SetantaOrganisation: Motors TVOrganisation: Irish TVOrganisation: Motorsport IrelandOrganisation: Subaru WRCOrganisation: Ford Fiesta WRCOrganisation: Quality HotelOrganisation: WRC
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