Valvoline Motorsport Ireland Forestry Championship Rounds 5 & 6 Preview: Cork
The two day CFF Jim Walsh Cork Forest Rally organised by Cork Motor Club will see the Valvoline championship crews look for a double helping with full points being awarded for each day. It’s make or break for many crews as the season reaches its climax for rounds five and six.
Clerk of the Course Paul Casey has laid out a route consisting of 155kms over the two days in north Cork including two trips over a mammoth 18.5km test on the first day. Many of the championship contenders will appear in Cork including series leader Michael Carbin from Monaghan who holds a two point advantage. The Mitsubishi driver has been very consistent all year and has scored strongly on the last three rounds in particular. However he is likely to come under severe pressure to hold that position with Cathan McCourt also entered. The Tyrone driver who lies in second place has won the last two rounds on the Moonraker and Donegal Forestry with some very impressive driving in his Ford Fiesta R5. Joe Hegarty in third place has also show great pace on the last two rounds taking a podium position on each one while the giant killing David Crossen in fourth place has shown remarkable speed in his Ford Escort.
Conor McCourt achieved his first forestry podium on the last round and will be looking to build on that performance while last year’s championship runner up Barry McKenna has had a quiet year this time, but performed strongly on this event last year. Barry actually won the rally outright, and took second place championship points on each day of the event last year. Sam Moffett only appeared on the opening round but as a past winner of the Cork forestry event it would be hard to bet against him taking maximum points on both days. Donagh Kelly and Vivian Hamill haven’t been seen in the woods too often in recent times but with both drivers in potent R5 cars they will be well in the mix. Other drivers who are still in with a championship claim are Peter & Niall McCullagh, Stephen Dickson and William Creighton all of whom are capable of a strong result in Cork. Gerard Lucey is a seasoned championship campaigner and will be hoping to do well on his local forestry event while Billy Coleman award winner James Wilson brings the Hyundai i20 R5 to the woods for the first time. Marty McCormack who won the opening round in Carrick on Suir has switched to a Ford Escort for Cork and will challenge David Crossen, Shane McGirr and Michael Conlon in what should be a fascinating battle. Crossen and McGirr as usual will be at the sharp end of things and there is usually very little to separate the pair. John Gordon is another capable of a strong result while David Condell & Gary Kiernan swap tarmac for gravel this weekend and won’t be too far away.
The junior championship (Class 16A) is being led by Derek Mackarel who has been in stunning form this year with a string of top results in his Vauxhall Nova. Jordan Hone returns to the Irish Forestry scene in his Opel Adam while Michael Hamilton and Kyle White are two others who will be looking for a strong result. The Class 16 section of the junior championship is being led by Shane Kenneally who has two firsts and two seconds in class this year to hold a twelve point lead over Kieran Lynch. Lynch took top points on the Moonraker while Brian Brady took top points in Donegal and both drivers will provide a serious threat to Kenneally in Cork. Last year’s J1000 winner Jason Murphy is also in the mix along with Ruairi MacArtain.
The M.O’Brien Plant Hire J1000 Championship has been strongly supported this year to date and Kyle McBride has been the start of the show with three wins from four appearances. He holds a seven point lead over Reece Pollock who won the opening round but hasn’t quite matched McBride’s pace since then. Casey Jay Coleman has been getting quicker with each passing round and will be confident of another strong result. A total of ten cars have entered this category in Cork with Niall Murphy and Ioan Lloyd newcomers to the series in Cork which is going from strength to strength.
Top 5 Overall Championship Points
1 – Michael Carbin 60,
2 – Cathan McCourt 58
3 – Joe Hegarty 51
4 – David Crossen 48
2 – Niall McCullagh 47