ROUND 3: CIRCUIT OF WICKLOW FOREST RALLY Sunday 17th April. McHale/ Nagle Reign Wicklow Woods Heavy rain was the order of the day for Round 3 of the "McCauley Trailers" National Forest Rally Championship -- The Circuit of Wicklow Rally...
ROUND 3: CIRCUIT OF WICKLOW FOREST RALLY
Sunday 17th April.
McHale/ Nagle Reign Wicklow Woods
Heavy rain was the order of the day for Round 3 of the "McCauley Trailers" National Forest Rally Championship -- The Circuit of Wicklow Rally based in Laragh, Co. Wicklow. Gareth McHale/ Paul Nagle survived the toughest and most competitive event this year emerging from the final stage with an 11 sec advantage over Glen Allen/ Damien Connolly after a very close Corolla contest. McHale made it a hatrick in Wicklow; his third win in three rounds boasting a maximum score (60 points) to date, extending his Championship lead to 8 points clear of Glen Allen.
Conditions were appauling as the competing cars set out to tackle the very wet Wicklow Forests. The opening stage Sunday morning was a foggy, slippy 8 miles of "Glenmalure". First on the road Gareth McHale set FTD - 7:32, Glen Allen was 6 secs adrift with John McCarthy only 1 sec back, making it a trio of WRC Corolla's. Fourth fastest and leading the 2WD contingent was local ace Brian Lawlor (Escort 2.0 16v). Stephen Moore was on a charge setting fifth fastest through Glenmalure and leading Gp N. Kevin O'Kane in a WRC Subaru tied with Moore on 7:52. Seventh placed Trevor J Harding finally made it to the startline with his Gp A Impreza. Pat Norris made a cautious start to hold 8th. Local man Paul Staunton suffered a puncture but still had a notable time (8:01) to hold 9th. Johnny McKenna completed the top ten holding 2nd in Gp N.
Gareth McHale dropped time on ss2, Drumgoff with a fogged up screen. Glenn Allen set FTD (4:27) and moved into the lead at the first service. John McCarthy was up to 2nd only 3 secs off Allen. McHale slipped to third but only 7 secs separated the three Toyota's. Fourth placed Stephen Moore had pulled his back bumper off -- testament of how hard he was pushing his ex McShea N10. Holding fifth Kevin O'Kane was a second in arrears, Brian Lawlor held 6th, Trevor Harding tied with Lawlor but had damaged a suspension arm on ss2. Pat Norris maintained 8th in his active impreza, Johnny Mckenna 9th and Staunton 10th. There was a lot of attricion on Drumgoff; Paul Barrett was off the road, stuck in a bog, Pete McCullagh put his Evo off, Brian McGillin retired with a broken front diff, Seamus O'Connell broke the gearlever in his beautiful Escort BDX but was still going and Pat Price rolled his works livered Evo 8.
The event moved to "Gleneally" for ss3 and "Ballydowling Hill" for ss4, Cork man McCarthy set FTD through ss3 and briefly held the lead. McHale upped his pace on ss4 and regained the lead arriving to the lunchtime service holding a 2 sec advantage over John McCarthy. Glen Allen dropped time on ss4, when his "joystick" gearshift jammed and had to revert to the manual gearshift -- yet again only 7 seconds separated the top three at the halfway point. Lying fourth Kevin O'Kane picked up his pace and got ahead of Moore, Lawlor held 6th, Norris 7th, Staunton 8th, Patrick Elliott 9th and Harding dropping to tenth losing time due to a lack of fuel pressure.
After a repeat of Glemalure and Drumgoff Gareth McHale arrived to the final service having extended his lead now holding a 13 sec advantage over Glen Allen. McCarthy tied with McHale on ss6 and was 2 secs off Allen -- 15 seconds separating the top three before the final two stages. Trevor Harding was retired on ss6, due to fuel pump failure. Noel Driver was another casualty with engine/ electrical problems.
McCarthy and McHale tied again through the penultimate stage with Allen 5 secs in arrears. McHale held an 18 sec margin going into the final stage "Ballydowling Hill" and McCarthy was back up to second but conditions remained unchanged and anything could happen. Glen Allen set a blistering FTD (5:07) on ss8, elevating himself to second - 7 secs up on McHale and 13 secs up on McCarthy. Gareth McHale/ Paul Nagle were crowned winners in Wicklow when they arrived at parc ferme in Laragh holding an 11 sec cushion after a day long nip and tuck battle in atrocious weather conditions. Glen Allen/ Damien Connolly took second with their new mount and John McCarthy/ Mick Morrissey completed a WRC Corolla top three.
Kevin O'Kane/ Martin Hanna got it together in the afternoon bringing home their WRC Subaru fourth. Stephen Moore/ Tony McHugh (N10 Impreza) had a clean sweep leading Gp N from the opening stage to take 5th overall and class honours. Sixth placed Pat Norris/ Declan Tumilty (Impreza) were a little off the pace but maintain 3th in the Championship standings. Local crew Brian Lawlor/ Peter Kavanagh (Escort 2.0 16v) came through un-scathed, 7th overall, best 2WD and class five honours having had serious competition. Patrick Elliott/ Mark Bowens (Evo 8) finished 8th and second in Gp N. Gleneally man Paul Staunton with Bruce Burgess alongside finished 9th and had hoped for the 2WD spoils but suffered punctures on the first and final stages. Andy Mackeral/ Richard Cassidy completed the top ten, Mackeral broke a shaft on ss4 but got it sorted at service.
The event had a good quality entry with numbers up on previous years.
There was an influx of welcome Northern crews with powerful Escorts, looking to do battle with the locals and a handful of new entries in Evo's, lets hope they come again. Class winners on the day included; Class 1, Martin Kirwan/ Olive Costello (Nova). Class 2; Joe McDonald/ Barry Hamilton (Escort). Class 3; James Flynn/ Jonathan McGrath (Civic). Class 4; Raymond Donnelly/ Alan Keena (Escort). Class 7; Pat O'Connell/ Paul Manton (206) and Class 9; Conor Kelly/ John Quill (Nova).