Motorsport: Egan sees off O’Rourke to claim Mondello honours

Clare’s Pádraig Egan (Subaru) won the head-to-head in the four-wheel drive category of the Herospec Rallysprint in Mondello Park yesterday, while Wexford’s Jason O’Keeffe (Peugeot 205) netted the two-wheel drive class and Cavan’s Russell Woods claimed victory in the Buggy class.

In Saturday’s event that was based on time, former Irish Forest rally champion Cashel’s Pat O’Connell (Mitsubishi) took a facile win. A number of high profile entries — including Garry Jennings, Declan Boyle, Frank Wray, Andrew Fanning, and Fergus O’Meara — never started, for various reasons.

Heavy overnight rain wreaked havoc on the gravel section of the track, forcing organisers to redesign the course during the day as the Buggy contingent faltered in the conditions.

O’Connell set the pace from the start and after the first run over the course he led Strabane’s Niall McGonigle by two seconds. McGonigle was driving a hired Ryan Loughran Escort.

Pushing his advantage to 16 seconds on the second run, O’Connell used all his Mondello experience. Fellow Tipperary driver Liam Ryan retired his Toyota Corolla WRC with engine problems on the second stage. Mark Courtney was also in trouble, in an ex-Tommi Makinen S7 Subaru WRC. The Dubliner stopped several times due to gearbox problems.

As O’Connell continued to impress, McGonigle dropped further behind, though he still retained second. Finishing with the best times in all five runs, O’Connell had a minute and eight seconds to spare at the finish. McGonigle was second and Mark Nangle (Subaru) third.

Yesterday’s event was run off in various categories on a head-to-head basis as family commitments ruled O’Connell out of the event. Egan beat Wexford’s Thomas O’Rourke in the four-wheel drive category. Jason Keogh (Peugeot 205), who was fourth overall on Saturday, took the honours in the two-wheel drive section edging out Mark O’Connor in a keenly contested final.

In the “B” final, Francis Rafferty (Escort) took the chequered flag after Midleton’s Mark Dolphin (Escort) had an altercation with a chicane bale. The Buggy class was won by Cavan’s Russell Woods, who coasted to victory after fellow Cavan man Jonny Pringle misjudged his braking and struck a chicane.

Meanwhile, Kilkenny’s Ian White (Mini Special) capped a fine season with victory in both rounds of the Carrick on Suir Motor Club’s double-header autotest in Waterford to clinch the Hewison Autotest Championship for the very first time.

On Saturday’s ninth round White won all but two of the day’s 12 tests to claim the spoils from Kildare’s Darren Quill (Westfield).

Yesterday, White was dominant, winning all 12 tests to finish ahead of the Mini Saloon of Christopher Grimes.

White won seven of the 10 rounds on his way to championship success.


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