Valvoline National Forest Rally Champions, Cork pair, Owen Murphy/James O’Brien (Mitsubishi) won the Mallow-based Jim Walsh Cork Forest Rally, the fourth round of the series after finishing 6.3 seconds ahead of Colin Britton/Arthur Kierans with former champions, Pat O’Connell/Mark Wiley just nine tenths of a second behind to complete a Mitsubishi top three.
There was controversy just before the start, however, when series leader, Garry Jennings (Subaru 555) was prevented from competing due to the compliance of the bag tank with regulations. Meanwhile, another competitor, Martin Cairns (Subaru WRC) was eventually allowed compete — after confusion about homologation details.
In a closely fought opening stage, Britton topped the time sheets with a mere three tenths of a second ahead of Murphy with O’Connell a further six tenths of a second back. Murphy reckoned his Mitsubishi was down on power but produced a fastest time on the second stage for a 5.7 second lead over the flu-stricken Pat O’Connell with early leader, Britton, a tenth of a second further behind.
On the third test in the forests near Kilavullen, Murphy was 1.2 seconds quicker than Britton, in overall terms, he led his rival by seven seconds while O’Connell was still very much in contention — 2.3 seconds behind the latter. Elsewhere, Kevin Barrett retired his Subaru after the second stage due to clutch failure while Shay Power withdrew after a rock bent the rear axle of his Escort. At the halfway point, Martin Cairns (Subaru) was fourth from Enda McNulty (Subaru). Sixth placed Gerard Lucey was fortunate his Mitsubishi didn’t puncture after he clipped a rock. Stephen Wright (Mitsubishi) increased his pace after a slow start. Eighth in overall classification, Shane McGirr (Toyota Starlet) led the two-wheel drive category. Recovering from an opening stage puncture, Vincent McAree was ninth with Niall Henry (Subaru) tenth.
On the repeat of the three stages, Cairns, Murphy and McAree set the respective fastest stage times. Murphy lost time on S.S. 4 — he thought his Mitsubishi had sustained a puncture. At the service prior to the final stage, the matter was rectified and he went onto win his home event for the first time. Britton edged out O’Connell for second.
McGirr won the two-wheel drive category with Michael Conlon (Escort) next best. Dean Raftery (Honda Civic) took the spoils in the Junior category ahead of Ian Downey (Opel Corsa) and Daniel Cronin (Peugeot).
In France, at the Rallye Region Limousin, Keith Cronin (Citroen DS3) was very much in contention for Class R3 until his car suffered a puncture right on the start line of Saturday’s opening stage. The rally was won by Stephane Sarrazin (Peugeot 307 WRC), a tenth of a second in front of the Ford Focus WRC of Cuoq Jean Marie. Bryan Bouffier (Peugeot 207 S2000) was some two minutes and 20 seconds further behind in third.
In the British GT3 Championship at the Nurburgring, Cork driver Matt Griffin and team mate Duncan Cameron took their MTECH Ferrari 458 to victory against a strong challenge from the numerous Porsche outfits that were looking for victory on home soil. Having finished fourth in Friday’s opening race, they defied the odds to take the chequered flag. Griffin and Cameron lead the GT3 series by 14 points.
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