O'Reilly scores maiden victory. Belfast, 7th September 2002: Cathal O'Reilly from Cavan has won the second round of the 2002 Ford Ireland Focus Rally Championship, the Ulster Rally based in Belfast. The two-day Ulster Rally based in the Antrim...
O'Reilly scores maiden victory.
Belfast, 7th September 2002: Cathal O'Reilly from Cavan has won the second round of the 2002 Ford Ireland Focus Rally Championship, the Ulster Rally based in Belfast.
The two-day Ulster Rally based in the Antrim Hills and Sperrin Mountain ranges saw the crews tackle in excess of ninety of the harshest stage miles that some of the crews have ever experienced. The event started as the opening round had finished, with a gigantic nip and tuck battle between Cathal O'Reilly, Oliver Stanley (Durrow) and Colm Murphy (Limerick).
Day One saw the crews tackle a total of four stages in the Antrim hills. Colm Murphy in the Kingdom Fast Fit/Guerin Crash Repairs Ford Focus once again set the early pace, setting fastest Focus stage time on the opening three stages, to move into a thirty three second lead. Due to this early pace, Colm not only lead the Focus Rally Championship but also the National Rally overall after day one. Cathal O'Reilly in the Autotech Body Shop Ford Focus despite a cautious start proceeded to set one fastest and three-second fastest stage times to move into second position overall. Oliver Stanley in the Perry Motors Ford Focus, winner of the opening round, had a huge spin on stage one sapping him of vital confidence in the conditions but continued to finish day one in a secure third position from John Foley (Cork).
Day Two saw the crew's head to the Sperrin Mountain Range to tackle a total of seven treacherous stages in atrocious weather conditions. Once again Murphy revelled in the slippery conditions to set fastest time on the opening stage. Following an overnight decision Stanley decided to fight for the lead and record a time just two seconds slower than Murphy but more significantly eighteen seconds faster than O'Reilly on the opening stage of the day. However on the next stage Stanley's spare wheel came loose, the flailing wheel costing him vital seconds and all hopes of victory. The fifth stage, Drumahoe should have been renamed Murphy's folly as two miles from the finish Colm broke a driveshaft and coasted to a halt in sight of his first victory. O'Reilly witnessing his great rival parked at the side of the road eased off and cruised to his maiden 2002 Ford Focus Rally Championship victory and also secured second position overall in the National Rally.
"It is a shame that Colm suffered such bad luck today, he really put the fight up to us over the last two days. However I experienced the same fate on the opening round of the Championship and I am delighted that my luck has changed at last. We had a great battle over the last two days not only with Colm but also with Oliver Stanley. I relaxed a little too much on the last three stages after we passed Colm and it cost me victory on the National Rally" said Cathal.
The Championship battle will continue between all nine crews of the 2002 Ford Focus Rally Championship at the Clare Stages Rally based in Ennis on the 22nd of September.
<pre> FOCUS RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS AFTER ROUND 2
POS. NAME ADDRESS POINTS 1 Oliver Stanley Durrow, Co. Laois 56 2 Hamilton Bell Hillsborough, Co. Down. 40 3 Cathal O'Reilly Cavan 30 4 Colm Murphy Athea, Co. Limerick 26 5 Brendan Kelly Longford 23 6 John Foley Midleton, Co. Cork 21 7 Ken Lyons Limerick 19 8 Gabriel Martin Knocklyon, Co. Dublin 15