The final round of the 2003 KBB Doors National Forest Rally Championship went down to the wire as the championship rivals fought for victory through heavy rain and wet/ muddy conditions. John McCarthy/ Dan Maguire powered their Impreza 555 to yet...
The final round of the 2003 KBB Doors National Forest Rally Championship went down to the wire as the championship rivals fought for victory through heavy rain and wet/ muddy conditions. John McCarthy/ Dan Maguire powered their Impreza 555 to yet another victory. McCarthy had a mere 5 sec margin over James Murphy/ Con Mulcahy (Escort Cosworth) who had their best result to date finishing a fine 2nd overall. Kevin O'Kane/ Francis Regan (Impreza 555) led the series going into the final round and had a very competitive run to 3rd but lost out on the Championship title in a tie-break with Eddie Kinirons/ Greg Shinnors (Celica GT 4).
The event was based in Castleisland, with a loop of 3 very testing stages in the Mount Eagle and Mullaghreirk Forests. Top seed Dermot Kelly/ John Brennan (Escort WRC) set the pace through ss1 (Forehane), 4 secs ahead of Dominic McNeill/ Francis Kenny in a similar Escort WRC. John McCarthy held third just 2 secs a drift of McNeill. Kevin O'Kane (Impreza 555) and Kevin Lynch (Impreza WRC) tied for fourth, while Pat Norris/Declan Timulty rounded off the top five in their Gp A Evo 6. McNeill attacked but punctured on ss2 and smashed the bogey through ss3. McCarthy determined to win also beat the bogey through ss3 and arrived at the Abbeyfeale service area with a 7 sec lead ahead of Dermot Kelly who had lost time due to power steering and active diff troubles. Kevin Lynch was the first major retirement, his Impreza WRC slipped off the road on ss3. Kevin O'Kane held 3rd at service, James Murphy 4th, Pat Norris 5th, McNeill 6th, John Donnelly 7th, John Shanahan 8th, Kinirons 9th and Brian McCloskey 10th.
The second loop saw a lot of the top ten suffer mechanical failures. Dermot Kelly's run of bad luck seemed to go on and on, having fixed his power steering and active diff problems at service suffered a broken drive shaft on ss4. Eddie Kinirons' rear diff packed up on ss4 and he had to finish the remaining stages with only front wheel drive. John Donnelly lost time with a blown turbo and a broken throttle cable but losing over 10 mins with gearbox failure pushed him well down the leaderboard. John McCarthy didn't put a wheel off line all day and had a steady run to the finish taking his fourth win of the season.
The battle for second overall was intense with only 5 secs between Kevin O'Kane, James Murphy and Pat Norris going into the final stage. All three charged for a podium finish, Norris tried too hard and pulled a wheel off. James Murphy/ Con Mulcahy had their best ever result, fastest on the last stage, beat the bogey and clinched second overall. Kevin O' Kane kept it together with the championship in mind and finished third. John Shanahan/ Liam McLaughlin also had their best result to date, having battled with the WRC's took a well earned 4th and yet another Gp N win even though they had secured the championship on the previous round. Dominic McNeill was 5th; Brian McCloskey/Damien Duffin climbed the leader board to 6th after a new intercom was borrowed from James Murphy at service. Brian Lawlor/ Peter Kavanagh (Escort mk 2) were 7th, fastest 2wd and took class 3 victory both on the event and in the championship. Dermot Kelly 8th, forced to continue with a broken drive shaft lost considerable time over the later stages, Eddie Kinirons also lost time finishing 9th with only fwd but took the 2003 KBB Doors Championship title. Michael O'Sullivan/ Paul Fitzgerald (Escort mk 2) were delighted with 10th overall and second in class 3.
Pete McCullagh/ Alan Dolan won class 6 (206); Jason Kelly/ Adrian Foley (106) took second. Local crew Jimmy Devane/ Mike Buckley (Sunny) took class 4 honours and were the best Kerry crew. Matt Shinnors/ Adrian Deasy (Escort mk 2) had a fine drive taking their first class 2 win. Billy O'Connell/ Derek Power (Escort mk2) had to settle for second in class, but this was good enough to take the championship as nearest contender Alan Mulcahy had retired with a blown engine. Lyod & Lester Hutchinson finished 13th overall and took another class 1 win in their trusted mini, Stephen McGrath/ Mark Wiley (Nova) were delighted to end their season with second in class. John Carroll/ Kenneth Blanche were well down the leader board but managed to take class 1 championship honours by 1 point.
Provisional Championship Results after Round 6 KBB Doors National Forest Rally Championship have been sent to all registered competitors (Thanks to Elaine Higgins, Registrar) and are available on line