Organiser: Killarney and District Motor Club When: December 1 Where: Killarney, Co. Kerry Championships: Irish Tarmac Historic Rally Championship, Plasticbags.ie Southern 4 Historic Rally Championship; Kingdom of Kerry Rally Championship. Stages: 8 Starters: 144.
Leading from the start, reigning Irish Tarmac Historic Rally champion Owen Murphy (Talbot Sunbeam) survived a finalstage blitz from the Ford Escort Mk1 of Mark Falvey to win the Killarney Historic Rally by a mere 1.1 seconds.
Welsh ace Neil Williams (Escort) was a minute and 50.5 seconds further adrift in third.
A 9.6-second gain from the iconic Moll’s Gap gave Murphy the perfect start as Falvey, running out of sequence after he had to secure the battery, had to contend with his Escort popping out of second gear.
Welsh favourite Phil Collins (Opel Ascona) was 20.6 seconds further behind in third but then lost significant time on the second stage at Ballaghbeama with a puncture. Murphy went 13.7 seconds clear on SS2 but Falvey responded by clawing five seconds back on the run through Caragh Lake.
Both their service crews were busy; Murphy’s team fixed a rear-axle mount that snapped on SS2 and Falvey’s engineer sorted a misfire. After slotting into third on SS2, Marty Mccormack retired his Escort with an electrical glitch.
Williams therefore was running third on his maiden trip over the classic Killarney terrain from fellow countryman Melvyn Evans (Escort), who was slowed by a small flock of sheep on SS2, but retired on SS5 with transmission troubles.
Meanwhile, Escort pair Tomas Davies and local ace Ray Hilliard were next in the classification.
On the repeat of the loop, Falvey could only manage to trim a second from the deficit as Davies (Ford Escort) edged out Williams for third.
Murphy looked home and dry with a 9.6-second lead after the penultimate stage at Kilcummin, but Falvey’s performance on the repeat of the same stage almost dislodged the long-time leader, who hung on for a famous win.
Williams got the better of Davies to secure third ahead of Daniel Jones (Escort), Jonny Greer (Ford Sierra) and Escort debutant Cathan Mccourt, who set the best time on the final stage. Denis Cronin, Hilliard and Barry Jones completed the top 10.
1 Owen Murphy/anthony Nestor (Talbot Sunbeam) 1h10m38.3s; 2 Mark Falvey/james O’brien (Ford Escort RS1600) +1.1s; 3 Neil Williams/anthony O’sullivan (Escort); 4 Tomas Davies/ Shane Buckley (Escort); 5 Daniel Jones/ Gerwyn Barry (Escort); 6 Jonathan Greer/ Kirsty Riddick (Ford Sierra); 7 Cathan Mccourt/ Barry Mcnulty (Escort); 8 Denis Cronin/ Helen O’sullivan (Escort); 9 Ray Hilliard/ Conor Walsh (Escort RS1600); 10 Barry Jones/ Brian Quinlan (Escort).
Class winners: Greer/ Riddick; Ray Cunningham/ Kevin Keane (Morris Mini Cooper S); Tom O’brien/ Scott O’brien (Austin Mini); Maurice Meskell/ Stephen Meskell (Ford Escort); Davies/ Buckley; Duncan Williams/ Guy Weaver (Ford Escort); Jones/ Barry; Les Allfrey/ Keith Fellowes (Peugeot 205 GTI).
Murphy/nestor took narrow win