‘Henry wins Irish Forest counter
Organiser: Munster Car Club When: April 16 Where: Ballyvourney Co Cork Championship: Valvoline MI Forestry Championship; Suirway South East Stages Rally Championship Stages: 8 Starters: 82.
Desi Henry and Liam Moynihan dominated the Moonraker Forest Rally through the Sagart and Mullaghanish Mountains above Ballyvourney in their Skoda Fabia R5. Their lead was never in doubt over eight stages.
The rally attracted one of the best entries for years and, although the 50 two-wheel-drive cars ran first, the stages remained in good condition throughout the day.
Henry was fastest through the opening stage, albeit by just 0.6s from Josh Moffett in his forest-spec Mitsubishi Lancer. But it would be a short-lived challenge. Moffett stopped with turbo maladies and an off-road excursion on stage two put paid to his victory chances. It also robbed the rally of a strong frontrunner.
When the cars got to service after stage two, it was former forestry champion Pat O’connell who was Henry’s closest challenger. Brendan Cumiskey was third in his Ford Fiesta R5. Henry’s gap over the second-placed man was already over 19s.
Rob Duggan in his Peugeot 208 R2 was the fastest two-wheel drive – another BRC exponent – in 13th.
Stages three and four, Derreenaling (3.4 miles) and Knockabro (8.1 miles), were a repeat of the first two.
Henry predictably increased his lead, but there was a decent scrap for second as Ger Lucey challenged Pat O’connell in a similar Lancer. Fourth-placed Cumiskey in his Fiesta R5 certainly wasn’t out of the picture either, just a few seconds in arrears.
Moffett had rejoined the rally and set a second fastest time through the long stage four, but was still 17s off Henry’s time. His car was now suffering a leaky radiator and exhaust damage.
Erstwhile championship leader Patrick O’brien was another Lancer in trouble as he had early gear selection problems and ran it with no anti-lag, but he managed to hold fifth and that was despite brake dramas because of a damaged pipe.
Robert Moffett, Josh and Sam’s father, was taking one of the family Ford Fiesta WRCS for a run and was up to sixth, although he then dropped a few seconds and places in stage six. Don Keating had been ninth but his Subaru Impreza, which had a replacement engine fitted before the rally, stopped in stage four.
Through the slightly shorter stages five and six, Henry was again comfortably fastest. During those tests, O’connell edged ahead of Lucey and Cumiskey.
O’brien’s gritty drive came to an end in stage six when the reigning Junior Forestry champion’s Lancer cried enough when holding fifth. Frontrunning Junior class driver Derek Mackerel retired in stage five when his Vauxhall Nova broke a timing belt, and Alan Moran then led in his Peugeot 206 from Shane Kenneally (Ford Escort).
Stephen Dickson, having his first run in his Ford Fiesta, later came through to second best Junior.
Adrian Hetherington was acclimatising himself to his first run in a Toyota Corolla WRC and he came up to 10th on stage six.
The final two stages were a repeat of five and six (Gleanndav 2.33 miles) and Curragh (4.72 miles). Henry was comfortably fastest to win by 1m27s from O’connell. Cumiskey in third was just 1s back from O’connell at the end.
Best two-wheel-drive honours went to Duggan. He leads the DMACK BRC Junior standings driving a Vauxhall Adam, with his sister Tara co-driving.
Desi Henry marched to dominant victory
Duggan: Fast in Peugeot 208