UK: Willie Loughman Memorial Forest Rally summary

Round 1 2004 McCauley Trailers National Forest Rally Championship Last Stage Victory for Lynch/ Regan The Derry/ Antrim pairing of Kevin Lynch and Francis Regan (Impreza WRC) took a narrow but convincing victory on the opening ...

Round 1 2004 McCauley Trailers National Forest Rally Championship
Last Stage Victory for Lynch/ Regan

The Derry/ Antrim pairing of Kevin Lynch and Francis Regan (Impreza WRC) took a narrow but convincing victory on the opening round of the 2004 "McCauley Trailers" National Forest Rally Championship in Carrick on Suir. A host of new WRC machinery, good stages and perfect dry conditions, with no rain in two weeks set the tone for a real battle to claim the honours and clock up valued Championship points.

There was early drama when top seed John McCarthy/ Dan Maguire put their Corolla WRC off the road on ss1 (Anner) and retired with mechanical damage. Former Champion Dermot Kelly running at 13...unlucky for some, also went off the road on Anner, his Escort WRC suffered little or no damage but was too far off to get going again. Brian Murphy/ Joe Downey (Impreza 555) had an 8 sec advantage through Anner, taking an early lead form Kevin Lynch followed by Pat Norris/ Declan Tumilty (Impreza 555) only a 1 sec behind, and Kevin O'Kane/ Mark Hanna in his newly acquired Impreza WRC a further second back. James Murphy/ Con Mulcahy (Escort Cosworth) held fifth despite turbo trouble. Stephen Moore/ Stephen Griffiths (Impreza N8) held 6th and led Gp N only 2 secs up on Paul Barrett/ Dermot Colgan (Evo 6). Group N Champions John Shanahan/ Liam McLaughlin (Impreza) held 8th and 3rd in Gp N but retired after ss2, Kilcash with a blown engine.

At first service after 3 stages Brian Murphy held an 11 sec lead over Pat Norris, who was fastest on ss3. One second adrift Kevin Lynch held 3rd and was quickest through Kilcash (ss2). Kevin O'Kane had no problems in 4th and seemed to be getting more confident with his new car. James Murphy had dropped off the leader board with a blown turbo. Stephen Moore now in 5th continued to lead Gp N, Paul Barrett held 6th. Local hero Paul Mulcahy/ Karl Baumann in their 1600 16V Starlet held 7th with cousin Alan Mulcahy/ Tom Kenneally 1600 16V Escort 11 secs back. Best 2WD in '03 Brian Lawlor/ Peter Kavanagh out in their newly built 2.0 16V Escort were just inside the top ten and charging up the leader board.

After a repeat run through the first loop of stages Brain Murphy continued to lead at second service. Kevin Lynch moved ahead of Pat Norris and O'Kane remained in 4th. Paul Barrett slotted into 5th as Gp N leader Stephen Moore retired on ss6 (Slievenamon), his Impreza stopped with a broken gearbox. Paul Mulcahy was up to 6th and Bob Scanlon/Peter Keohane (Evo 6) were 7th and holding 2nd in Gp N. Brian Lawlor 8th, Patrick Elliott/ Sean Moriarty (Evo 6) 9th. James Cribbin/ Bob Kelly (Evo 6) tied with Matt Shinnors/ Adrian Deasy (1600 16V Escort) for 10th.

The event moved to the massive Gurteen complex near Kilsheelan for the last 4 stages, famous for its' long fast flowing terrain this is always a sting in the tail. The pace at the front was starting to take its toll on the machines, Brian Murphy's Impreza 555 had 6th gear problems and Kevin Lynch's WRC rear diff was whining so loud that he had to rely on hand signals from co driver Francis Regan. But Lynch managed to set fastest time on ss7 and ss8 to arrive at last service only 5 secs behind Murphy with 2 stages to go. Pat Norris still holding 3rd had slipped back a little and couldn't match the two in front. There was little change in the top ten, Brian Lawlor now up to 7th and Suirway Forklifts man James Coleman (2.0 16V Escort) was up to 10th. James Cribben suffered a few punctures, as did John Reid and Lloyd Hutchinson in the Mini. Matt Shinnors had been up to 10th but dropped way back after making costly clutch repairs on ss7.

Lynch and Murphy stopped the clock on ss9 with an identical time of 5:19 so Murphy was 5 secs up going into the final stage and it was all to play for. Kevin Lynch did 5:12 and Brian Murphy 5:22 so Kevin Lynch/ Francis Regan (49:02) fresh from their 3rd overall in Kirkistown on Saturday took their maiden Southern victory in convincing style and have made the perfect start to their assault on the McCauley Trailers Championship.

Brian Murphy (49:07) finished 2nd a very notable result as he hadn't driven on gravel in 2 years. Pat Norris (50:26) held third all day in his Kumho shod Impreza and set some fastest times. Kevin O'Kane crashed out on the last stage this elevated Paul Barrett (51:15) to 4th and 1st in Gp N. Brian Lawlor (53:24) climbed the leader board all day to take 5th, best 2WD and first in class 5. Local man Paul Mulcahy (53:33) finished 6th and was untouchable in class 3, Bob Scanlon (53:35) took 7th, Patrick Elliott (54:07) 8th, Andy Mackeral/ Richard Cassidy (16V Ascona) a fine 9th (55:08) after arriving in Carrick at 5AM having finished 4th in the Midland Navigation Trial on Saturday night. Event sponsor James Coleman (55:10) of Suirway Forklifts completed the top ten.

Peter McCullagh/ Alan Dolan (206) finished 12th and won class 7, John Brennan/ Stephen Brawders (Escort) 25th and won class 4, Mick Nevin/ John Kinahan (Escort) 17th and won class 2. Llyod/ Lester Hutchinson (mini) despite all their punctures finished 13th and had a convincing class 1 win. John Doolan/ Alison Quinlan finished 39th and took class 9 honours. Well done to Terence Kearney and his team at Carrick on Suir Motor Club for putting on a great event, superb stages and all on time.

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Bob Kelly , James Murphy , Francis Regan , Brian Murphy , John McCarthy , James Cole