UK: NFRC round two summary

Tipp Top Easter for McHale/Nagle Gareth McHale/ Paul Nagle (Corolla WRC) took a slender 9 second victory on Round 2 of the "McCauley Trailers" National Forest Rally Championship based in Mitchelstown Easter Sunday 27h March. The young...

Tipp Top Easter for McHale/Nagle

Gareth McHale/ Paul Nagle (Corolla WRC) took a slender 9 second victory on Round 2 of the "McCauley Trailers" National Forest Rally Championship based in Mitchelstown Easter Sunday 27h March. The young Dublin man withdrew his entry from the Circuit of Ireland to concentrate on the Forest Championship and now holds a 6-point lead in the series. The event was a great success with 97 starters including a host of 205 Challenge contenders on their final round of the inaugural Irish 205 Challenge. Hankook Tyres came on board as event sponsor to launch their new competition tyres.

McHale led from the opening 10-mile Kilworth stage, where he held an 8 sec advantage over Adrian McElvaney/ Paul Goodman (Impreza 555). John McCarthy (Corolla WRC) and Dermot Kelly (Escort WRC) tied for third 1 sec in arrears while Pat Norris (Impreza 555) and Glen Allen (Escort WRC) tied in fifth 11 secs down. Stephen Moore/ Tony McHugh led the Gp N category, 7th fastest in Kilworth having rebuilt his N10 Subaru overnight after melting a piston on the Easter Stages. Brian Lawlor/ Peter Kavanagh were flying, 8th fastest and best 2WD. James Murphy/ Anthony Nestor (Escort Cosworth) in 9th had ECU troubles and Derry man Johnny McKenna (Evo 6) completed the top ten.

The event moved to the Goaten Bridge complex near Clogheen for ss2. This was a very fast flowing stage with plenty of flat out downhill smooth sections. Glen Allen/ Damien Connolly (Escort WRC) set FTD, the Tyrone man won the Easter stages with his new Corolla WRC and was anxious for a result on his final fling in the Escort. Adrian McElvaney was only 2 secs adrift -- the Monaghan man now just 6 secs off the lead. Third fastest Gareth McHale tied with Pat Norris, 2 secs down on McElvaney. Third placed John McCarthy was slowed a little by an oil leak that had smeared his screen. Going into ss3, "Cambaun Wood" there was only 14 secs separating the top five so it was all to play for.

John McCarthy with his Hankook shod Corolla got it together and stamped his authority over this classic stage, set FTD and a new record as he stopped the clocks on 6:49 -- 5 secs up on young gun McHale. There was plenty of drama as Dermot Kelly first on the road slid wide on a fast downhill approach into a square left and cut a tyre. Adrian McElvaney was sidelined again as his Impreza blew a head gasket -- a real disappointment as this man has the pace and only needs a bit of luck to clinch victory. Kevin O'Kane/ Martin Hanna retired their Impreza WRC due to an engine misfire. James Murphy put his Escort off the road ending his day. Glen Allen lost time due to a fault with the response system.

At the lunchtime service halt in Mitchelstown Gareth McHale continued to lead albeit 6 secs ahead of McCarthy's Corolla. Pat Norris/ Declan Tumilty held third 20 secs back. Dermot Kelly was a further second down while Glen Allen completed the top five after the first loop. The Gp N contenders were having it out hot and heavy as only 9 secs separated the top four. McKenna led, Moore trailed by a second, Pete Willoughby (Evo 8) was 2 secs back and Cavan's Patrick Elliott also in an Evo 8 rounded off the top four - six secs off Willoughby. The 2WD brigade fought tooth and nail as Brian Lawlor (Escort 16v) held a top ten spot and led Frank Kelly (Escort 16v), who was at a loss as to his time on the opening stage but had swopped times with Lawlor on the other two.

The event returned to Kilworth Forest where Gareth McHale settled the score -- the Dubliner seems to up the pace at his pearl. McHale opted for the wider Kumho tyre at service and was well impressed with the high-speed stability -- the result: McHale set a blistering time 13 secs clear of Pat Norris and a staggering 19 secs up on McCarthy's similar Corolla. McHale was on a roll and set FTD through ss5, the repeat of Goaten Bridge. McCarthy stopped the clocks only 1 sec down as did Glen Allen who seemed to revel in these flat out fast forests.

The final stage was a repeat of "Cambaun Wood" McHale seemed safe with a 26 sec advantage and set his mind to bring it home, but a costly stall on the start line left it all to play for through this final seven-mile test. John McCarthy ruled the roost and seems to be untouchable on "Cambaun" as he set a new all time record 6:47 -- 2 secs quicker than his previous run and 17 up on McHale. Dermot Kelly suffered another puncture on his favourite stage, not so kind to him this year. Pat Norris was second fastest despite a misfire and Glen Allen lost almost half a minute with an off road excursion.

Gareth McHale/ Paul Nagle turned in a fine drive; his second win on only his second drive on gravel with his Kumho shod Corolla. The young Dubliner has no regrets having pulled out of the Circuit of Ireland as he now holds a six point led in the "McCauley Trailers National Forest Championship". John McCarthy/ MJ Morrissey came on very strong in the afternoon; the Cork man has shown a return to form and victory in the Toyota beckons. Pat Norris/ Declan Tumilty took third with their Impreza 555. Glen Allen/ Damien Connolly finished fourth on their final Escort outing -- Glen will use his newly acquired Corolla WRC in Wicklow. Dermot Kelly/ Greg Shinnors (Escort WRC) finished fifth, their progress hampered by punctures.

Group N was all to play for; only 10 secs separated McKenna, Moore and Willoughby before Cambaun, where Willoughby set fourth fastest time - McKenna trailed by a second with Moore a further second back. Tyrone man Stephen Moore clinched (class 8) Gp N and 6th overall, Pete Willoughby/ Greg McCarthy were second in class and 7th overall -- 8 secs off rival Moore. Patrick Elliott/ Mark Bowens (Evo 8) took third in class and 8th overall. Johnny McKenna/ Paul Howe dropped to 9th overall after incurring road penalties. Brian Lawlor/ Peter Kavanagh (Escort 16v) had to cope with an ailing gearbox all afternoon. The Wicklow pairing finished 10th overall, best 2WD and took class five honours by only 5 secs from Frank Kelly/ John Shevlin (Escort 16v) who were just outside the top ten.

Ventry brothers Alan/ Tony Dineen took another class 1 win with their Nova. Class 2 went to Mick Nevin/ John Kinahan (Escort). Donegal's Adrian S McElhinney/ Martin McMenamin pushed hard taking the spoils in the 205 Challenge. Matt Shinnors/ Janice Mackeral (Escort 1600 16v) powered their way to 20th overall and class 3 honours. Jason/ Patrick Roche (Escort 2.0) finished 21st and clinched class 4. Andrew Kearney/ Owen O'Neill were the only survivors in class 7, taking max points with their 206. Conor Kelly/ John Quill (Nova) took the junior class by storm with a 34 sec victory on his second ever event.

The numbers continue to grow with more competitors including juniors having signed up for the Championship. Jim O'Brien and his team ran a successful event, perfect weather and newly surfaced stages made for a supper rally and it was great to see the majority of competitors make the finishers list.

-gs-

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers James Murphy , Gareth McHale , Paul Nagle , John McCarthy , Owen O'Neill