O'Donovan upholds local honour. Donal O'Donovan and Pat Lordan in the An Post SDS Toyota Celica were the top local crew in last weekend's Murphy Construction 2002 Cork '20' International Rally, coming home in fourth place despite having...
O'Donovan upholds local honour.
Donal O'Donovan and Pat Lordan in the An Post SDS Toyota Celica were the top local crew in last weekend's Murphy Construction 2002 Cork '20' International Rally, coming home in fourth place despite having to contend with a dramatic fire late in the event. The Subaru crew of Andrew Nesbitt and James O'Brien claimed victory on the Cork '20', thus securing the 2002 Toshiba Computers Irish Tarmac Rally Championship title.
Mirroring his domination of Irish rallying throughout the year, Nesbitt took outright fastest time on all but one stage in the event. Only an overshoot on the second run through Killeagh on Sunday afternoon prevented a clean sweep, Nesbitt forced to share the spoils on that occasion with Eamonn Boland. The latter had taken over second place on Saturday, (following the retirement of Austin McHale due to an electrical problem) and maintained the position throughout Day Two. Peadar Hurson recorded his first finish of the year, taking third place, ahead of O'Donovan and Lordan.
The Corkmen had been hampered by fumes entering the cockpit of the Celica throughout the event, but the problem became much more serious on stage twelve. "About two miles from the end of the stage, the car filled with smoke," said Donal. "We kept going to the finish, and it was only when we arrived at the end that we realised that the floor was actually on fire. The heat from the exhaust had set it off, and there were flames between the seats and the fuel tank. The marshals at that point had an extinguisher, and we used it to put out the fire. I very much want to thank them for their assistance. We were very lucky that the car wasn't burned out."
Pat was equally relieved to finish the rally at all in the circumstances. "The smoke inside in the car was unbelievable, there was water streaming out of our eyes. We were fortunate that the fire didn't start earlier in the stage. We would probably have contained it with the on-board extinguisher, but we might have had to pull out of the rally."
Remarkably, their time on that second run through the Inch stage was faster than the first, despite the fire. "We were on for a very good time only for it," said Donal. Despite incurring road penalties while attending to the damage caused by the fire, the crew did not lose position on the overall leaderboard, remaining in fourth place ahead of Maurice Gass.
The final round of the 2002 Tarmac Championship will be the West International on Saturday, November 8th.