Tipperary driver Pat O’Connell won his first ever rally on last Sunday’s Sean Conlon Memorial Forest rally. Lying second at first service and when Andrew Purcell experienced brake problems, O’Connell went into a lead he never surrendered.
O’Connell was runner up in last years Petro Systems forest championship and he was clearly delighted with his first big win.
Dubliner John Reid was runner up in the Toyota Corolla WRC, and he was joined on the podium by Seamus O’Connell in Escort Mk2. Fourth place was taken by Enda Mc Nulty, the Coalisland driver would have finished higher if he did not incur a two minute penalty. John Mc Laughlin and Ollie Williams were fifth and sixth respectively.
In an impressive seventh overall was Vincent Mc Aree, the Ballinode man in his first ever four wheel drive rally car. Mc Aree was winner of the junior class of the 2009 Petro Systems National Forest Rally Championship and his prize was a drive in Daragh Raftery’s Group N Impreza. Insurance cover was provided by Motorsport Ireland while the fuel and tyres were provided by Jim Crozier and Christy Carey (Race n rally) respectively.
The 8 stage (84km) rally was hosted by the Tipperary MC, and was based in Mitchelstown. It ran faultlessly thanks to the efforts of COC John Ward and his team. Fifty five started the rally and there were twenty nine finishers. The principal retirements were Andrew Purcell (OTL) James Murphy Escort WRC (accident), Frank Kelly Escort Mk2 (drive shaft failure) and James Coleman Escort Mk2 (drive shaft failure).
Top Ten Sean Conlon Memorial rally
1 Pat O’Connell/Mark Wiley (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 Gp N) 57m 33s.
2 John Reid/Enda Shields (Toyota Corolla WRC) 59m 25s.
3 Seamus O’Connell/Brian Duggan (Ford Escort Mk II) 61m 10s.
4 Enda McNulty/Ronan O’Kane (Subaru Impreza WRX) 61m 25s.
5 John McLaughlin/Ray Fitzpatrick (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 Gp N) 62m 23s.
6 Ollie Williams/Michael Walsh (Ford Escort Mk II) 63m 40s.
7 Vincent McAree/J P McAree (Subaru Impreza GC-8 GpN) 64m 22s.
8 Bob Scanlon/Suzanne Wright (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 Gp N) 64m 43s.
9 Mark Murphy/Carol O’Keeffe (Subaru Impreza WRX) 65m 19s.
10 Michael Cuddihy/Richie Coady (Toyota Starlet 1600) 66m 18s.
Leaders Stage 1and 2 Andrew Purcell. Stage 3-8 Pat O’Connell.
Class 1 Andrew Fanning Ford Ka
Class 2 Michael Nevin Ford Escort
Class 3 Michael Cuddihy Starlet
Class 4 Nigel Creagh Ford Escort
Class 5 Oliver Williams Ford Escort
Class 6 Enda Mc Nulty Mitsubishi Evo
Class 7 John Reid Toyota Corolla WRC
Class 8 Pat O’Connell Mitsubishi Evo
Next round of Petro Systems Forest Championship William Loughman Memorial Carrig-on-Suir Rally Sunday March 7th.