After four high speed runs over the CMC Mitchelstown Motors Boggeragh Rally Sprint stage, who would have known that the destiny of the overall victory would not be decided until the very last minute, with drama striking the leading contenders.
Snaking for over 5.6KM through the Boggeragh Mountains on the outskirts of Nadd, the Rally Sprint was a welcome return to gravel action that has been sorely missed for quite a while, and the mood among competitors was excitement to get out on some of the finest gravel terrain in the country.
Led by COC Sean Daly and a great crew supporting him from Cork Motor Club, the event saw 69 cars take to the start line. Ahead of each crew lay a fast, flowing ribbon of Gravel and over 22km of high-speed action.
Opening the day’s action, Gerard Lucey/JJ Cremin (Mitsubishi Evo 9) raced into an early lead, going fastest on the two opening tests to open a 7.7 second lead at the head of the field. Among the chasers at mid-way was Mike O’Connor Jrn/Greg Shinnors in their older Mitsubishi Evo 4, but issues on Stage 3 would leave the pair out of contention.
Amongst the bumper entry was a huge number of Junior 1000 competitors, the true future of Irish Rallying getting an opportunity to experience competitive stage action for the very 1st time for some. In a thrilling 11-way battle, it was Jack Brennan/John McGrath (Skoda Citigo) who claimed the victory with Jack & John Harris 8.5 seconds behind in their Peugeot 107. Third place went to Tommy & Sam Moffett in their Toyota Aygo.
In the 2wd section, it was a real crowd pleasing performance throughout as the screaming Millington Escort of Frank & Lauren Kelly took a very spectacular and sideways victory with 19.4 seconds to spare ahead of Steven Corey/Peter McCullagh Jnr in their MK2 Escort. The quickest of the FWD crews was Ryan Caldwell/Grace O’Brien in the brand new Ford Fiesta Rally 4.
As the class battles came to a conclusion, all eyes were on the event victory. For Lucey/Cremin, disaster struck on the line as their Mitsubishi hit electrical gremlins entering SS4 and they saw their lead drift away. The first to profit was Ray Breen/Andy Hayes in the glorious Ford Focus WRC, as they chased the stricken Evo and set the quickest time for the final stage. In doing so, they did enough to finish 1.4 seconds of Lucey, but not quite enough to grab the win.
And for all Breen’s final stage charge, it took some incredible car control from David Guest/Liam Moynihan to claim a debut win on Gravel in their Ford Fiesta R5. The Clonakilty ace had held 2nd place throughout the day, and unaware of the issue of Lucey, the win was nearly lost with a spin in the closing kilometer, but a quick reaction had the car back going withing a flash and in the end he came home with 2.8 seconds to spare!
Full Results from the day can be found here: http://live.irallyresults.com/CMCRally/000010/overallRes.html