Driving the car owned by his father, Eddie — it won last year in the hands of Liam Ryan — he finished 21.44 seconds ahead of the Group N Mitsubishi of Dubliner, Neill Tohill, with Kildare’s Jack Newman, in his Mk. 2 Ford Escort, taking third — 2.25 seconds further behind.
In slippery conditions, Power set the initial pace with a 3.37-second lead over the Mitsubishi of Liam Ryan. Ryan’s fellow Tipperary driver, Pat O’Connell, in a similar Mitsubishi, was third, six seconds off the lead. Newman, Tohill, and Craig Breen, in the James Coleman-owned Escort, completed the top six.
Slashing five seconds off his first run, Power extended his lead to 14.9 seconds. The impressive Newman, in his rear-wheel drive Escort, slotted into second. Ryan retired with engine woes, as Tohill and O’Connell, along with Breen and James Coleman (Escort), rounded off the top six.
Power dominated the remaining two runs, as the track dried out considerably, while Tohill edged out Newman for the runner-up spot. Billy Coleman award-winner, Killarney’s Rob Duggan (Escort), and Banteer’s Barry Meade (Escort) were amongst the class winners.
Meanwhile, Limerick teenager Christopher O’Callaghan (Semog Buggy) took a late victory in the Dolphin Transport Autocross, at Ladysbridge in East Cork, the final round of the O’Shea Bus Hire Munster Autocross Championship.
Former double Irish Forest Rally champion, Owen Murphy, set the pace on the first of the three timed runs. On board his Subaru, he clocked a time of two minutes and 6.78 seconds, with O’Callaghan next best, on two minutes and 10.47 seconds. Wexford’s Peter Brennan, also in a Semog Buggy, held third — a fraction of a second behind.
Murphy continued to dominate, as he punched in a time of two minutes and 3.64 seconds. O’Callaghan’s time for the second run was disallowed, as he mistakenly took four laps of the circuit, instead of three. Clare’s Brian Hassett (Semog Buggy) slotted into second — almost a second behind Murphy, with Brennan retaining third. Then, on the final run, O’Callaghan was the only driver to break the two-minute barrier for the course — he gained time on the concrete section and took victory. Murphy was second — that guaranteed him top spot in the saloon section of the Munster series. Hassett was third. Munster champion, James Lucey, was a non-starter, as his Subaru Special wasn’t ready
Elsewhere, the UK Anti-Doping Agency (UKAD) has confirmed that rally driver, Paul Bird, has been suspended from all sport for two years, following an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV). The Cumbrian rally driver tested positive for benzoylecgonine (a metabolite of cocaine) and furosemide (a diuretic), following an in-competition test after his win at the Nicky Grist Stages Rally last July. Bird, who owns Paul Bird Motorsport, which competes in British Superbikes, the Isle of Man TT races and national and international rallying, has been suspended from all sport until July 10, 2017.