Pat O’Connell triumphs in Lismore to consolidate his Championship lead

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Pat O’Connell completed a hat-trick when he won last weekends Moonraker Rally, round three of the Petro Systems National Forest Championship. The Cashel man in his Group N Evo 9 emerged with a 27 sec advantage over stalwart Kenny McKinstry in an Impreza WRC.  O’Connell led by 4 secs after the opening stage but surrendered his lead on the following test.  A blistering pace through the repeat of the famous “Vee” Stage saw O’Connell regain a slender lead.  This was endorsed with fastest times on the final stages (5 & 6) where he clinched a notable victory to  strengthen his resolve at the top of the “Petro Systems” points.

Kenny McKinstry had to settle for runner up on the day.  The former ANCRO Champion made a rare appearance to the Southern Forests and certainly spiced things up!  Despite intercom failure and turbo problems McKinstry led by 5 secs at the Lunchtime service in Cappaquinn after stage 3.  A spin on stage 4 proved costly, however the penultimate stage sealed his fate with a minor off costing over 20 secs.

John Reid had a smooth run to complete the podium with his faithful Corolla WRC.  The Dubliner was a model of consistency all day while his rivals fought tooth and nail.  He currently holds second in the Championship standings just 6 points adrift of O’Connell.

James Murphy was happy with fourth after a fraught day with his Escort WRC.  Triton Showers man Kevin Barrett (Impreza WRC) was fifth.  Hans Matthia (Evo 7) had his best ever result to claim sixth.  John McGaffin (Impreza WRC) took seventh while Shane McGirr blazed a trail to eight overall, “Best 2WD” and class 3 honours in his 1600 Starlet.  Christy Carey (Evo 9) was ninth and claimed the Group N laurels.  Rounding off the top ten; Matt Shinnors (Escort mk2) enjoyed his best ever result after a stern performance.

The Moonraker was a six stage event hosted by the Munster car Club based in the beautiful heritage village of Lismore.  It ran by the book with no drama’s – testament to the huge effort of new COC  Don Montgomery and his team.  The rally consisted of three stages done twice including the “Vee” which is widely regarded as one of the best stages in the country.

A total of forty six crews started the rally and thirty two made the finish-line. The main retirements included; Frank Kelly (Escort mk2) gearbox, Vincent Mc Aree (Evo 9) accident , Peter McCullagh (Evo 9) mechanical and Jeremy Drislane (Evo 6) brake failure.

Full Results
1 Pat O’Connell/Mark Wiley (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 Gp N) 38m 05s,
2 Kenny McKinstry/ Harvey Bell (Subaru Impreza S7 WRC) 38m 32s,

3 John Reid/Enda Shields (Toyota Corolla WRC) 38m 42s,

4 James Murphy/ Anthony Nestor (Ford Escort WRC) 39 m 12s,

5 Kevin Barrett/ Barry Goodman (Subaru Impreza S9 WRC) 39m 30s,

6 Hans Matthia/ Tom McGuire (Mitsubishi Evo 7) 39 m 59s,

7 John McGaffin/ Kenny Hull (Subaru Impreza WRC) 40m 39s,

8 Shane McGirr/ Anthony Corcannon (1600 Starlet) 41m 00s,

9 Christy Carey/ Donnacha O’Callaghan (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) 41m 44s,

10 Matt Shinnors/ Catherine Levis (1600 Ford Escort mk2) 41m 51s.

Leaders

After SS1 Pat O’Connell

After SS2 & 3 Kenny McKinstry

After ss4 – 6 Pat O’Connell

Class winners
Class 1 Emmet Cronin/ Paul O’Donovan (Ford Escort mk2)
Class 2 Mike Nevin/ Mike Garahy (Ford Escort mk2)
Class 3 Shane McGirr/ Anthony Corcannon (Starlet)
Class 4 Sean Benskin/ Joe Fitzgibbon (Ford Escort mk2)

Class 6 Hans Matthia/ Tom McGuire (Mitsubishi Evo 7)
Class 8 Christy Carey/ Donnacha O’Callaghan (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9)
Class 9 Ian Downey/ Paul Collins (Opel Corsa).

Next Round of the Petro Systems Forest Championship is the Donegal MC Forest rally on Saturday July 24th.