Young Guns Gareth McHale and Paul Nagle took a convincing victory on the opening round of "The McCauley Trailers National Forest Rally Championship"; the Carrick on Suir based Willie Loughman Memorial Forest Rally. The Dublin/ Killarney duo...
Young Guns Gareth McHale and Paul Nagle took a convincing victory on the opening round of "The McCauley Trailers National Forest Rally Championship"; the Carrick on Suir based Willie Loughman Memorial Forest Rally. The Dublin/ Killarney duo showed many forest veterans a clean pair of heels as they swept the board with "The Family Corolla WRC". This is Gareth's first win and comes as no surprise after his notable result on the recent Galway International.
Pete Willoughby/ Greg McCarthy (Evo 8) were the early leaders after the opening stage "Ahenny", McHale tied with Kevin O'Kane (Impreza WRC) 2 secs in arrears. Pat Norris (Impreza 555) and Glen Allen (Escort WRC) tied for fourth, while Monaghan's Adrian McElvaney (Impreza 555) held fifth. Dermot Kelly/ Greg Shinnors never made the start line as their Escort WRC had last minute transmission troubles.
Stage 2 "Gurteen" was 16 miles long and took its toll on the leader-board. James Murphy/ Anthony Nestor were the first casualties as their Escort Cosworth's rear suspension collapsed. Pete Willoughby's run came to an abrupt end, when his Lancer got a wheel on grass and slid into a low bridge damaging the gearbox casing. Gareth McHale set a staggering time through Gurteen, arriving into first service holding a 36 sec lead from Adrian McElvaney. McHale damaged the sump on a heavy landing and it was Killarney's infamous Bob Moran who saved the day with his mobile welding unit. Pat Norris held third, 8 secs back.
Fourth placed Johnny McKenna/ Paddy Robinson (Evo 6) led Gp N. Glen Allen/ Damien Connolly held fifth but their Escort WRC had throttle sensor problems. Tyrone's Stephen Moore/ Tony McHugh lost fifth gear on Gurteen, their ex McShea N10 Impreza held 6th. Patrick Elliott/ Mark Bowes up graded to an Evo 8 this season, Elliott tied with Kevin O'Kane/ Martin Hanna for 7th. Local ace Richie Curran returned to the woods after a long lay off, Curran acquired a Gp N Impreza and held 9th. John McCarthy/ Liam McLaughlin rounded off the top ten, McCarthy hampered by power steering difficulties.
The event moved to the famous "Anner and Slievenamon" stages where Norris and McElvaney set fastest times respectively. McHale kept his composure, arriving at the lunchtime service with a half-minute lead. McElvaney held second, Norris third, McKenna fourth and Glen Allen fifth. Kevin O'Kane moved into 6th, 8 secs clear of Stephen Moore followed by Patrick Elliott in eight, Curran 9th and McCarthy 10th.
The rally returned to Ahenny and Gurteen for the repeat loop of stages and yet again "Gurteen" took its toll. McHale survived unscathed, stopping the clocks a mere second down on his previous time. Glen Allen got into his stride; second fastest 2 secs off McHale and 49 secs up on his first run, elevating him into second. Adrian McElvaney's brilliant run ended a mile into Gurteen, when his Impreza's gearlinkage broke. Pat Elliott was another to be sidelined in Gurteen his Evo 8 suffered a broken rear suspension. Clones man; Andy Mackeral moved up to an Evo 4 and was starting to feature but he too burst a suspension on ss6 as did young Pete McCullagh (Evo 6).
At the final service with 2 stages remaining (Anner & Slievenamon) Gareth McHale held a comfortable 1 min advantage from Glenn Allen, who had to fend off a hard charging Pat Norris only 2 secs adrift in third. Kevin O'Kane climbed to fourth. Johnny McKenna held 5th, 18 secs clear of Gp N rival Moore, who kept the pressure on despite having lost fifth gear. Richie Curran/ Gerry English were a solid seventh. John McCarthy was well down in 8th as his Corolla's steering could not be sorted on the day. Brian McGillin/ Dave Doherty (Impreza) were now just inside the top ten. Brian Lawlor/ Peter Kavanagh rounded off the top ten and led the 2WD brigade. Frank Kelly/ John Shevlin made their first trip to Carrick and were just outside the top ten, having set 10th fastest time through ss6 -- 26 sec up on mk2 rival Lawlor.
Glenn Allen set FTD through Anner, 1 sec up on McHale, who simply turned up the heat again on the final stage with another FTD, 11 secs faster than his first run. Fourth fastest Stephen Moore set a blistering time through Anner -- 18 secs up on class rival McKenna, leaving them tied in fifth going into the final stage. Frank Kelly was really getting on the pace -- 6th fastest, 3 secs up on 2WD leader Lawlor.
24-year-old Gareth McHale in his Kumho shod Corolla emerged from the final stage with a very convincing winning margin of 1 minute and 2 seconds on his first day in a 4WD WRC in the Forests. Glenn Allen secured runner-up spot from Pat Norris, 8 secs in arrears. Kevin O'Kane took 4th, Johnny McKenna 5th and Gp N honours having edged 4 secs ahead of Stephen Moore on the final stage. Richie Curran held seventh, setting very competitive times along the way. John McCarthy finished 8th after a frustrating day, although the Cork man set quick times towards the end. Brian McGillin held 9th only 1 sec clear of best 2WD, Brian Lawlor rounding off the top ten.
The event was a good success and a great start to the 2005 "McCauley Trailers National Forest Rally Championship" it is very encouraging to see new names come to the fore in all categories. Well done to CoC, Terence Kearney and his team at Carrick on Suir Motor Club. The event went well, on time, no blocked stages and the weather was perfect, but Terence did tell me that he had it all arranged - even the weather!!
<pre> Top Ten
1 Gareth McHale/Paul Nagle Toyota Corolla WRC 55:35 2 Glenn Allen/Damien Connolly Ford Escort WRC 56:52 3 Pat Norris/Declan Tumilty Subaru Impreza 555 57:00 4 Kevin O'Kane/Martin Hanna Subaru Impreza WRC 57:58 5 Johnny McKenna/Paddy Robinson Mit. Lancer Evo Gp N 58:22 6 Stephen Moore/Tony McHugh Subaru Impreza N10 Gp N 58:26 7 Richie Curran/Gerry English Subaru Impreza WRX Gp N 59:28 8 John McCarthy/Liam McLaughlin Toyota Corolla WRC 59:58 9 Brian McGillin/Dave Doherty Subaru Impreza WRX Gp N 1:00:21 10 Brian Lawlor/Peter Kavanagh Escort 2.0 1:00:22
Class 1: Alan/Tony Dineen Nova Class 2: Alan Cummins/Declan Norris Escort Class 3: Paul Mulcahy/Karl Baumann Starlet Class 4: Jason Roche/Patrick Roche Escort Class 5: Brian Lawlor/Peter Kavanagh Escort Class 7 (106/ 206): Pat O'Connell/Paul Martin Peugeot 206 Class 8 (Gp N): Johnny McKenna/Paddy Robinson Evo 6 Class 9 (Juniors): Ashley McAdoo/Adam Murray Nova