Purcell a huge threat to Murphy and Reid

TOMORROW’S second round of the Valvoline Irish Forest Rally Championship, the Willie Loughman Carrick-on-Suir Rally features the participants that served up a cracking tussle on the opening round in Mitchelstown a few weeks ago.

The format of tomorrow’s event, where the three stages in the afternoon are repeated in the evening, illustrates a desire by the organisers to freshen up the series.

The first stage begins at 3pm with the winning ramp celebrations scheduled for 8.10pm.

Defending champion, John Reid (Toyota Corolla WRC) is the top seed and opposition will again come from the Mitsubishi pair of Owen Murphy and Andrew Purcell.

How much confidence Murphy has gained from his opening round victory should be evident over the six stages.

Purcell remains a huge threat despite campaigning a car that is not as technologically advanced as those of his rivals. There is some doubt about Ian Cochrane’s (Mitsubishi) participation due to work commitments.

Meanwhile, Liam Ryan (Mitsubishi) and Vincent McAree (Mitsubishi) should be close to the leading pace.

Having retired from the opening round with turbo problems, Mallow’s Sarah Moynihan (Subaru) should benefit from her top 10 seeding.

In the two-wheel drive category, the contrast between James Coleman (Ford Escort), Craig Breen and Alastair Fisher, in a pair of Ford Fiesta R2s, Shay Power (Ford Escort) and the Toyota Starlets of Michael Cuddihy and Shane McGirr should make for an interesting result.

Breen and Fisher continue their shakedown ahead of the WRC Academy series. Both will seek to improve on their recent respective outings in Rallye Sunseeker and Mitchelstown. The entry also includes Paul Fitzgerald (Ford Escort) and Brenda Cumiskey (Mitsubishi) but Jeremy Drislane (Subaru WRC) has withdrawn.

The second round of the World Rally Championship, Rally Mexico, continues today.

Entries for the Quality Hotels West Cork Rally (March 19/20) have passed the 100 mark with Midleton’s, Daragh O’Riordan (Subaru WRC), Welshman, John Dalton (Darrian), Clonakilty’s, Kevin Kelleher (Mitsubishi) and Dubliner, Robert Barrable (Skoda Fabia S2000) among the contenders.

The outcome of the investigation into the events at and surrounding the 2009 Donegal International Rally were published on Motorsport Ireland’s website earlier this week.

Nothing new has emerged, prompting the question was it really worth trudging over events.

Meanwhile, James Coleman, chairman of the Rallies Committee, who made an oral submission, rejected the claim in the report that he promised a written submission.

The report acknowledges the difference of opinion and content of a telephone conversation between the chief scrutineer and the clerk of the course at the event.

Although the investigation covers the sequence of post events until the end of April 2010, there is no mention of a particular meeting that took place in Dublin involving key personnel.

There is divided opinion on the report.

For some, it’s seen as a whitewash, others feel it was done to appease a particular group and the remainder are of the view that the recommendations — that those in Irish Motorsport, at every level, will adhere to a chain of commands — will prevent any repeat of the controversy.

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