Lynch/ Regan Winners in Wicklow Kevin Lynch/ Francis Regan (Impreza WRC) powered their way to victory on the Circuit of Wicklow Forest Rally, with a 6 sec winning margin over Kildare's Brian Murphy/ Joe Downey (Impreza 555). The Derry/...
Lynch/ Regan Winners in Wicklow
Kevin Lynch/ Francis Regan (Impreza WRC) powered their way to victory on the Circuit of Wicklow Forest Rally, with a 6 sec winning margin over Kildare's Brian Murphy/ Joe Downey (Impreza 555). The Derry/ Antrim duo now hold a 2 point lead in the McCauley Trailers National Forest Rally Championship after clocking up their second win of the season.
Although it was a perfect setting, a bright and sunny day in the Wicklow Mountains conditions in the forests were very slippy/ mudding following heavy rainfalls on the eve of the event. Brian Murphy led after the opening stage, Glenmalure by a slender 4 secs from Kevin Lynch, Pat Norris/ Declan Timulty (Impreza 555) in 3rd were 10 secs off Lynch and 6 secs in front of Kevin O'Kane/ Mark Hanna (Impreza WRC). Early retirements included Michael Tynan/ Colin Brady who rolled their Astra at the first junction on Glenmalure and James Coleman/ Eoin O'Neill were caught out by the very slippy surface ending up in the scenery.
Kevin Lynch arrived at first service in Avondale House, Rathdrum leading by 10 secs after he took 14 secs off Brian Murphy through ss2 (Drumgoff). Norris held 3rd, O'Kane 4th and Cork's John Shanahan/ Liam McLaughlin (Impreza) were 5th and holding a 2 sec lead in the Gp N category from Tyrone's Stephen Moore/ Tony McHugh also in an Impreza. Denis Biggerstaff/ Derek Brannigan (Metro 6R4) were cautious through Glenmalure, on a good pace through Drumgoff and held 7th. Local front-runner Paul Staunton/ Bruce Burges held 8th overall and led the 2WD battle as main rival Brian Lawlor/ Peter Kavanagh were sidelined having bent a compression strut in Drumgoff. James Murphy/ Con Mulcahy suffered a blown turbo dropping 2 mins through ss2.
After service the event moved into the "Glenealy" forest complex, which ran in a different format to last year after several leading drivers got caught out on a very bad bumpy section. Brian Murphy set fastest time, 3 secs up on Lynch, James Murphy was next now on the pace having changed the turbo at service. The revised Glenealy took its toll on the leader-board. Biggerstaff went well off on a slippy downhill 6 right, sustained little damage but was unable to get back on track. Staunton broke a half-shaft on this his home stage, Moore had a spin and was pushing hard to recover lost time but put the Subaru on its side a mile from the end losing 40 secs. Andy Mackeral/ Richard Cassidy were just outside the top ten and 3rd 2WD when their gearbox jammed after mid point. Connie Smith was another who ended in the bushes in Glenealy, his Sierra left the road on a slippy section.
Kevin Lynch responded through ss4, Ballydowling Hill with a 4.59, 2 secs quicker than Brian Murphy who arrived into second service with the rear bumper hanging off, an indication of how hard he was trying. Pat Norris was fastest through ss4 on 4.56 but Lynch maintained a 9 sec advantage over Murphy, Norris 3rd, O'Kane 4th and John Shanahan held 5th, now 30 secs up on Moore, who's Subaru needed urgent repairs after his Glenealy drama. Wicklow's Colin Walsh (Impreza) moved up the 7th, Bob Scanlon/ Peter Keohane (Evo 6) 8th, James Cribbin/ Sean Walsh (Evo 6) 9th and James Murphy was up to 10th trying hard to pull back time. The Dungarvan pairing of Paul Mulcahy/ Karl Baumann were just outside the top ten, leading class 3 and holding best 2WD in their rapid 1600 Starlet.
Brian Murphy was quickest through the repeat of Glenmalure and Drumgoff, so at the last service with just two stages remaining Lynch and Murphy were tied. Pat Norris still in 3rd arrived into service with the back end well out of line after landing hard over a jump in Drumgoff. Kevin O'Kane was secure in 4th a minute in front of Gp N leader John Shanahan. Stephen Moore holding 6th was still trying to catch his Gp N rival. James Murphy was now up to 7th and setting 3rd fastest times.
Kevin Lynch pulled all the stops out with an 8.31 through the repeat of Glenealy -- 32 secs quicker than his first run. Brian Murphy too attacked and set an 8.37, 23 secs up on his first run. So with only a 4.5 mile Ballydowling Hill remaining Lynch was 6 ahead and it was all to play for. James Murphy pushed too hard on Glenealy, landing off line over a 6th gear crest, hit the bank and ended his hopes of bringing home championship points.
Lynch and Murphy pushed to the limit on the final stage and it showed as both drivers stopped the clocks with an identical 4.46, this gave Kevin Lynch a 6 sec winning margin. Pat Norris kept it together in 3rd, Kevin O'Kane 4th, John Shanahan 5th and Gp N honours, Stephen Moore 6th despite a broken gear lever on the final stage. James Cribbin 7th, the first in a trio of Evo's Bob Scanlon 8th and Patrick Elliott/ Sean Moriarty 9th. Paul Mulcahy/ Karl Baumann had another outstanding result, 10th overall, best 2WD and class 3 honours. Paul's only worry was when the gearlever disappeared through the floor due to a collapsed gearbox mounting on Glenealy.
Local juniors Daniel Barry/ Den Doran (Ka) clinched class 9, picking up valuable experience for their Ka championship campaign. Jason Kelly/ Martin Brady (106) had a good battle with Andrew Kearney/ Owen O'Neill (206) and took class 7 by 16 secs. John Reid/ Brendan Greene (2.0 16v mk2) cruised to victory in class 5 and 11th overall as most of the class contenders were sidelined in Glenealy. Ray Benskin/ Peadar Walsh (2.0 mk2) had a 6-minute winning cushion in class 4. Enniskerry crew James Fagan/ Tom Snell (1600 mk2) took class 2 ahead of Mick Nevin/ John Kinahan. Pat Shanahan/ Seamus O'Conor took their maiden class 1 win following Llyod/ Lester Hutchinson's (Mini) retirement.
CoC, Roy Stewart and his team at the MEC ran a successful event; all the stages on time, good weather and the new format with centralised service after every second stage worked well for competitors and organisers alike.
Next Round: Round 4, Moonraker Forest Rally, Sunday16th May
Based: Midleton Park Hotel, Midleton, Co. Cork
Event Results available on line @ www.irish-rallying.com