After finishing as runners up twice in the past, Josh Moffett & Andy Hayes in a Hyundai i20 R5 took finally tasted victory on the Clonakilty Park Hotel West Cork Rally held over the weekend in the beautiful seaside town of Clonakilty. The winning margin of 23.3 seconds over Welsh visitors Meirion Evans & Jonathan Jackson (VW Polo Gti R5) did not quite tell the full story of a very fast and ultimately very dramatic event. Callum Devine & Shane Byrne in a Ford Fiesta R5 led the way overnight by just over four seconds, but gearbox failure put them out just before the final loop of stage, just after Moffett had taken the rally lead.
Alastair Fisher & Gordon Noble (VW Polo Gti R5) had put on a real charge from fourth overnight, but a couple of costly overshoots on the days second stage damaged his momentum and despite setting more fast times, had to settle for third place. The unluckiest crew were Jonny Greer & Dai Roberts (Citroen C3 R5) who were pushing Evans hard for second place when they clipped a bank and damaged the exhaust on the final stage forcing them into retirement. Cathan McCourt & Liam Moynihan had held fifth overnight in their Fiesta but crashed out on the opening stage of the second day at Ring.
There was plenty of Cork representation in the top ten, with Daniel Cronin co-driven by Shane Buckley taking fourth in a VW Polo, Clonakiltys David Guest & Jonathan McGrath taking fifth in a Fiesta with Owen Murphy & Anthony Nestor finishing sixth in another Fiesta. Cal McCarthy (with Derek O’Brien on the notes) was the second Clonakilty driver in the top ten bringing his Citroen home in eighth, while JJ Cremin co drove Keith Lyons into ninth overall in a Fiesta R5.
The National section of the rally was won despite gearbox problems by James Stafford & Tom Scallons Darrian T90 GTR. The had almost 50 seconds to spare over Robert Duggan & John Falvey’s Escort with Daniel McKenna & Andrew Grennan taking third place in their Escort. Colin Byrne & Stephen Quin (seventh), Vincent McSweeney & Michael Kearney (8th), Barry Meade & Eamon Hayes (10th) and Kevin Horgan co-driving for 9th place John McQuaid all finished in the top ten.
In Class 24 which caters for right hand drive R5 cars, the two class finishers were local drivers, Kevin Kelleher with William Lynch co-driving won by over a minute from Jason McSweeney & Liam Brennan. Both crews were in Ford Fiesta R5s.
In the Historic Rally Neil Williams from Wales with local co-driver Anthony O’Sullivan won convincingly from Tommy McDonagh & Gary Gallagher, while an excellent drive from Denis Cronin & Helen O’Sullivan saw them finish in third place. Alan Ring & Denis O’Donovan took fourth place in their BMW M3.
The Junior Rally was won by Kerry crew Jason Farrell & Donagh Crowley from Donegal crew Ryan McHugh & Declan Boyle with the result only being decided on the last stage. Robbie O’Hanlon & Liam Egan were the best Cork finishers coming home in a fine third place.
1 – Josh Moffett & Andy Hayes Hyundai i20 R5 1:51.08.4
2 – Meirion Evans & Jonathan Jackson VW Polo Gti R5 1:51:31.7
3 – Alastair Fisher & Gordon Noble VW Polo Gti R5 1:51:50.0
1 – James Stafford & Thomas Scallan Darrian T90 GTR 1:55:41.2
Class 24 – RHD R5
1 – Kevin Kelleher & William Lynch Ford Fiesta R5 1:59:12.8
1 – Neil Williams & Anthony O’Sullivan Ford Escort Mk2 1:28:17.3
1 – Jason Farrell & Donagh Crowley Honda Civic 0:55:33.6