Feb 29, 2020
Round 2 Preview
The mud and stones have barely been washed off some cars, but this weekend see’s the hugely exciting Valvoline Irish Forest Rally Championship buzz back to life as we head to Abbeyfeale for Round two of the 2020 season, the Keltec Engineering Limerick Forest Rally.
A new base for this year’s event, but a lot of the stages and team behind the scenes have stayed the same from the weather halted event last year. Undeterred by the freak Snow Blizzards that cut their efforts short last term, COC Anthony Nestor and the Limerick Motor Club have put in huge work to make the 2020 event a true classic that should be remembered for quite some time.
The stages, based around the Limerick and Cork border, are incredibly quick and the club have made massive efforts to ensure their quality once more. The six tests will see crews navigate over 66KM of some of the most rewarding high-speed thrills that Irish rallying has to offer.
Heading the field, and most definitely the early favourite, are Round 1 winners in Carrick-on-Suir two weeks ago James Wilson/Arthur Kierans. The 2018 Billy Coleman award winner showed blistering pace in the changeable conditions last time out and has really gotten up to speed quickly with the PCRS prepared Hyundai i20 R5. The young Armagh star has made the Forestry Title his main focus in 2020, and if the pace shown so far is anything to go by, its going to take a serious effort to derail Wilsons ambitions in the Motorsport Ireland backed car.
The pair who came closest to toppling Wilson in Carrick were Michael Carbin/Conor Mohan in their Mitsibushi Evo 9, but the latest news just breaking is that 2019 Irish Forest Champions Cathan McCourt/Barry McNulty are back for the 2020 season in their Ford Fiesta R5. Fresh from an impressive run in Fivemiletown last weekend, McCourt is rearing to take the battle to Carbin and Wilson and make a serious effort to retain his crown!
In the 2WD section, all eyes will be on the battle of the Ford Escorts, with Round 1 winners Gary Kiernan/Daren O’Brien set to be pushed to the limit by a raft of big name opposition who have a lot more Loose Surface experience than the Monaghan man. Michael Conlon/Grace O’Brien had a great event in Carrick-on-Suir to take second place, but they know that there are even more friendly rivals to deal with in Limerick.
Chief among these is 2019 Valvoline Irish Forestry 2WD Champions David Crossan/Aileen Kelly who start their defence this weekend having skipped Round 1, as have fellow Class 14 MK2 Escort crew David Condell/Paul Kelly, winners of the gruelling 2-day Cork Forest Rally in 2019.
Behind them, the FWD battle is once again sure to dominate the conversation, with the R2 battle once more set to rage between the Opel Adam of Jordan Hone/Paul Hone and the Ford Fiesta’s of Marty Gallagher/Dean O’Sullivan & Kyle White/Sean Topping.
In Class 11F, inspirational young navigator Sara McFadden will make her Valvoline Irish Forest Rally Championship debut alongside current class leader Ian McCarthy in his Honda Civic. The visually impaired Mayo woman has quickly grown a reputation as an incredibly skilled co-driver, and the Limerick Forest Rally will be a first venture off tarmac and into the Woods!
Lastly, the closest battle of all on Round 1 of the season was in the M’O’Brien Plant Hire Junior 1000 series, where only 1.2 seconds separated the Nissan Micra of Reece Pollock/John Burke and the Toyota Aygo of Kyle McBride, who this round will be navigated by Declan Casey. The field of J1000 crews will be the first to leave the Rally HQ in Abbeyfeale on Sunday morning, with six incredible stages lying in wait for what is sure to be a great days rallying!
The 2020 Valvoline Irish Forestry Rally Championship Calendar
Round 1: Willie Loughman Memorial Forest Rally – February 16th – Carrick-On-Suir
Round 2: Limerick Forest Rally – March 1st – Abbeyfeale, Co. Limerick.
Round 3: Moonraker Forest Rally – March 28th – Ballyvourney, Co. Cork.
Round 4: Sean Conlon Memorial Rally – May 17th – Clonmel, Co.Tipperary
Rounds 5 & 6: Jim Walsh Cork Forest Rally – July 25th/26th – Mallow, Co. Cork
Round 7: Bushwhacker Rally – September 26th – Omagh, Co. Tyrone
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