HENRY IS THE JIM WALSH HERO
Organiser: Cork Motor Club When: August 14 Where: Mallow, Co. Cork, Ireland Championship Valvoline Irish Forest Rally Championship Stages: 6 Starters: 71
Portglenone’s Desi Henry put on a dominant display to lead the Jim Walsh Cork Forestry Rally from start to finish in his Skoda Fabia R5.
Patrick O’brien, this time with Aine Mcguigan co-driving in his Mitsubishi Lancer, made a late surge to take second, overturning the deficit to Adrian Hetherington’s Toyota Corolla WRC.
The result means the fight for the championship with three rounds to go is even closer.
Michael Carbin has increased his points lead over Ger Lucey. Desi Henry won the second round of the series, the Moonraker, and combined with his Cork win here, has moved into contention. Also in a strong position is first-round winner Patrick O’brien. His second place on this rally strengthens his hand as well.
The rally started with the famous Bweeng stage, and then moved to the Mount Hilary test.
The third stage in the loop, Duhallow, was the longest at 9.5-miles. Incorporating some new mileage through wind farms, the drivers were full of praise for this fast new stage.
Henry – guided by Liam Moynihan – was quickest from the outset.
Through Dunhallow he recorded a time of 8m46.3s. No other driver broke the nine minute mark. Henry was running first of the four-wheel-drive cars, and possibly was clear of the worst of the dust, although he was to an extent cleaning off the loose gravel.
Hetherington/gary Nolan lost a few seconds because of the dust in stage three, as he was catching Martin Cairns, who was still settling in to his Ford Fiesta WRC. In the afternoon the organisers brought in two-minute gaps between the cars, which eased the dust situation.
On the second half of the rally, a repeat of the first three stages in a different order, Henry was able to ease his pace somewhat, as he had a decent lead. He was trying to save his Skoda for next weekend’s Ulster Rally. He finished the event without putting a mark on the car, and pronounced it a “very enjoyable day, super stages”.
Hetherington had 18s in hand over Patrick O’brien going into the final stage. However Hetherington’s Corolla WRC collected a puncture on rocks with just over five miles of the stage remaining. He dropped over 20s and from second to third, just ahead of Michael O’brien’s Ford Fiesta. Mark Donnelly/stephen O’hanlon had been as high as third at the mid-point but they lost time in stage six when, with the tyres on their Mitsubishi Lancer were worn out, they couldn’t get stopped for a junction and had a big overshoot. They were also troubled with dust coming into the car but finished fifth. Michael Carbin had a consistent run throughout the day to finish sixth.
In the two-wheel-drive section, Shane Mcgirr made life tough for himself when he spun his Toyota Starlet almost within sight of the stage two finish, and also had a trip into a ditch on another stage. This allowed David Crossen into the lead, but Mcgirr pulled out all the stops to set a fabulous time on the final stage to just squeeze ahead of Crossen, with Mickey Conlon third. Seamus O’connell/brian Duggan were well in the hunt for most of the day, but Seamus pulled out before the end when he hurt his back.
In the junior section David and Andrew Beamish (Opel Corsa) took the win. BRC crew Adam Bustard/ Aaron Johnston crashed their Ford Fiesta R2 on the penultimate stage.
Henry’s win makes title shot a possibility
Seamus O’connell pulled out of class challenge with bad back