UK: National Forest Rally round 4 summary

Round 4 "McCauley Trailers" National Forest Rally Championship The Moonraker Forest Rally. Sunday 15TH May. Lynch/ Regan Take Narrow Victory Reigning Forest Champions Kevin Lynch and Francis Regan (Impreza S9 WRC) emerged from the...

Round 4 "McCauley Trailers" National Forest Rally Championship
The Moonraker Forest Rally.
Sunday 15TH May.

Lynch/ Regan Take Narrow Victory

Reigning Forest Champions Kevin Lynch and Francis Regan (Impreza S9 WRC) emerged from the final stage of the "Moonraker" Rally with a narrow 9 sec winning margin. Lynch set the pace from the start and held a 25 advantage over Gareth MacHale before the final two stages, but anything can happen in motorsport as the Dungiven man discovered on the penultimate stage "Coolatour" where he hit a deer.

Lynch led from the opening stage "Knockaroe" near Murley's Cross where he edged out a 3 sec advantage from championship leader MacHale. John McCarthy was 3 secs behind his Corolla counterpart with Glen Allen/ Damien Connolly a further 4 secs back in 4th. Allen was in a lather of sweat as he suffered the ill effects of a cold. Brian Lawlor/ Peter Kavanagh (Escort 2.0 16v) set a staggering 5th fastest time through the opening stage. Kevin O'Kane/ Martin Hanna (Impreza WRC) tied with Lawlor.

Next up Sean Devine and Brian McGillen tied for the Gp N lead in their respective Subaru's. Frank Kelly was on song - 9th fastest and only 2 secs down on Lawlor. Kelly had a new co driver Cork's Liam Brennan and the pairing seemed to click from the start. Pete McCullagh/ Alan Dolan (Evo 6) tied with Stephen Moore/ Sean Moriarty for tenth; the latter bent a right rear hub and didn't have a spare. There were casualties almost on the start line as Lismore's Pete Willoughby retired his DJ Rallyhire Evo 8 with a broken centre diff a mile into "Knockaroe". Dominic McNeill stopped when his Escort WRC had an engine fire 2 miles in. Nicky Hegarty (son of Clerk of the Course) retired on the first bend of his first ever rally, his Skoda sidelined with a broken shaft.

Stage 2 "The Vee" saw Lynch extend his lead, setting FTD 6 secs up on MacHale who stalled at the second chicane. John McCarthy was third quickest; all top three drivers got bogged down at the second chicane. Lawlor set a blistering 4th fastest. Glen Allen went off losing almost 5 mins, his Corolla emerged with two rear punctures and having only one spare, taking count of the time lost Glen opted to withdraw from the event. Gp N pacesetter Sean Devine crashed out heavily at the first hairpin, both he and co driver James McKee were ok. Johnny McKenna retired his Evo 6 with a broken suspension. Dermot Kelly's Escort had a bad misfire; Stephen Moore had a right rear puncture and a flailing rear bumper -- Moore not backing off despite his bent rear hub. Brian McGillen lost time with turbo troubles.

Lynch arrived at service after ss3, "Scart Mountain" 11secs up on MacHale with McCarthy a further 2 secs back in third. Brian Lawlor held fourth and led the 2WD's. Pete McCullagh/ Alan Dolan (Evo 6) stormed the leader board to hold the Gp N lead and 5th overall. Kevin O'Kane tied with John McGlaughlin/ Dave Moynihan (Evo 7) in 6th. Trevor Harding/ Charlie Boland held 8th in their "Eddie Garry Cars" livered Gp A Impreza. Brian McGillen/ Dave Doherty were doing well to hold 9th -- their Impreza well down on power. Andy Mackeral/ Richard Cassidy rounded off the top ten -- Andy switched to Kumho's and was on a good pace.

Stephen Moore retired -- his N10 Impreza with a broken gearbox. Pat Norris set 4th fastest on ss3 but retired his recently acquired WRC at service with a whining rear diff. Conor Kelly/ John Quill were battling with Ashley McAdoo/ Adam Murray for the junior class but Kelly rolled out on ss3, both crew were unhurt. Ritchie Curran/ Gerry English were starting to feature but had to pull out having discovered a bent drive shaft at service. Frank Kelly was well on Lawlor's pace but suffered a puncture on ss3 dropping him well back.

Stage 4 "Coolatour" ran in reverse followed by the repeat of the Vee and Scart Mountain before the final service at Cappagh. Kevin Lynch was fastest on all three and consolidated his lead. MacHale and McCarthy were nip and tuck through ss4 and 5. The front-runners improved their time by 20 secs on the repeat of the Vee. Most crews arriving at service had their tyres in tatters due to the very warm weather and the hard dusty surfaces. McCarthy reported a regulator problem but managed to sort it. MacHale raised his game on the repeat on Scart where he took 7 secs off the local man. Lynch had 25 secs on MacHale who in turn had 25 secs on McCarthy and it looked like the status quo would remain over the final two stages.

Fourth placed John McGlaughlin moved into the Gp N lead a mere second up on McCullagh. Trevor Harding tied with McCullagh and Brian McGillen climbed to 7th after sorting his earlier turbo troubles. Kevin O'Kane held 8th, Lawlor 9th looking very secure for 2WD honours, Andy Mackeral 10th would have to hold off James Coleman and James Murphy. Coleman equalled Lawlor on 2 stages but had to change the gearbox at service. Murphy lost brakes on ss6. Just off the top ten were the Evo's of Brendan Kelly and Patrick Elliott.

The penultimate stage saw it all nearly slip away for rally leader Kevin Lynch when a deer crossed his path while fully committed through "Coolatour". Lynch damaged the intercooler and lost power steering. With only the short three mile test "Knockaroe" remaining the Dungiven man hoped he could hold off MacHale. There was a big upset in the 2WD category when Brian Lawlor slipped off at a square left losing over 3 mins. The Gp N class was all to play for McGlaughlin was 6 secs up on McCullagh going into ss8.

Gareth MacHale set FTD through the final stage, stopping the clocks 11 secs quicker than Lynch who was under pressure having to pilot his S9 without power steering. On their first forest event this year Kevin Lynch/ Francis Regan led from the start to take a narrow 9 sec victory on the Moonraker. Gareth MacHale/ Paul Nagle came a close second netting maximum points (Lynch/ Regan did not register) to strengthen their resolve at the top of the "McCauley Trailers" leader board. John McCarthy/ Mickey Morrissey rounded off the top three -- 40 secs down on MacHale. McCarthy moving up to second in the standings with the demise of Allen and Norris.

John McGlaughlin/ Dave Moynihan (Evo 7) took fourth overall and Gp N honours after a daylong battle with Pete McCullagh/ Alan Dolan (Evo 6). McCullagh pulled all the stops out on the final stage, setting 3rd fastest time 5 secs up on McGlaughlin reducing the deficit to just one second. Trevor Harding/ Charlie Boland had a good run bringing home their Gp A Impreza 6th only 2 secs behind McCullagh. Another second back in 7th Brian McGillen/ Dave Doherty (Impreza) tried everything on the final stage and equalled McCullagh's time. Kevin O'Kane/ Martin Hanna (Impreza WRC) took eight; Patrick Elliott/ Mark Bowens (Evo 8) took 9th and move to second in the Gp N championship -- 4 points behind Stephen Moore. James Coleman/ Owen O'Neill had their best ever result; 10th overall, "Best 2WD" and class 5 honours. James Murphy/ Anthony Nestor (Escort Cosworth) tied with Coleman completing the top ten.

The event had a top class entry with numbers bigger than ever before (over 90 starters). It all went like clock work thanks to the big effort by Coleman Hegarty and his team at the Munster Car Club. The excellent weather made for a great atmosphere and new class winners on the day keeping the "McCauley Trailers" Championship very competitive. Class winners included; Class 1, Alan/ Tony Dineen (Nova). Class 2; Mick Nevin/ Michael Garahy (Escort). Class 3; James Flynn/ Jonathan McGrath (Civic). Class 4; Jason/ Patrick Roche (Escort). Class 7; Pat O'Connell/ Paul Manton (206) and Class 9; Ashley McAdoo/ Adam Murray (Nova).

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers James Murphy , Francis Regan , Paul Nagle , John McCarthy , James Cole , Owen O'Neill