Marty McCormack, David Moynihan bosses in Ballyvourney

Although four crews were within a two-second time frame after the opening stage of the Abbey Hotel Munster Moonraker Forest Rally in Ballyvourney, (round three of the Valvoline Irish Forest Rally Championship), all changed a stage later as Derry’s Marty McCormack and his Mallow co-driver David Moynihan powered their Tiger Risk Partners Skoda Fabia R5 into a 28.9 second lead which laid the foundation for overall victory.

They ultimately finished 25.3 seconds ahead of the Ford Fiesta R5 of new series leaders New York-based Barry McKenna and co-driver Leone Jordan with Monaghan’s Josh Moffett (Fiesta R5) and his Killarney co-driver Ger Conway 46.3 seconds back in third.

The short stage at Gleanndav in the Mullaghanish Mountains was close with Moffett a second up on both McKenna and pre-event championship leader Andrew Purcell (Fiesta R5) and McCormack another second behind. A stage later proceedings changed dramatically: top seed Moffett lost his four-wheel drive, Purcell had a steering rack and differential problems and McKenna’s Fiesta stalled twice.

Meanwhile, McCormack arrived at the Ballyvourney service with a 28.9 second lead over McKenna with Conor McCloskey 2.1 seconds behind followed by Stephen McCann and local driver Gerard Lucey (Mitsubishi) fifth. Purcell was down in 31st and Moffett was 34th. both over a minute off the lead. The stage was interrupted when Cathan McCourt crashed his Citroen DS3R5.

On the repeat of both stages Moffett and McKenna posted the respective fastest stage times as McCormack opted for a narrower tyre that really didn’t suit, nevertheless, he was 23.9 seconds ahead of McKenna while Moffett made a good recovery to slot into third. Purcell withdrew on his way to the third stage due to the problem with the steering rack. McCann and Lucey were next in classification.

McCloskey stopped to change a wheel — he eventually withdrew prior to the final stage. Leader McCormack didn’t have to take any risks as McKenna cut the deficit to 18.8 seconds. Moffett was 46.9 seconds back in third ahead of Lucey and McCann.

With fastest times on the final pair of stages McCormack sealed a fine win. McKenna in second took maximum points in the Valvoline Championship with Moffett completing the top three and netting second-placed championship points. Lucey overturned a 4.6 second deficit to secure fourth by 2.5 seconds.

In Group N, Derry’s Eoghan Rogers (Mitsubishi) took the spoils ahead of the similar car of Dunmanway’s David Guest. Shane McGirr (Toyota Starlet) won the two-wheel drive category. One of the drives of the rally was that of Monaghan’s Derek Mackarel (Vauxhall Corsa), who won the Junior category by 24.8 seconds.

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