The excitement was evident as Mayo & District Motorsport Club gathered in Óstán Oileán Acla last Friday night for the launch of the Óstán Oileán Acla/Connacht Print & Signs Mayo Stages Rally 2017. Guests arriving for the Achill People of the Year Awards which was also taking place in the Óstan got a preview of what’s in store on Rally weekend as they inspected a fine array of rally cars on display in the car park for the launch.
Clerk of the Course Trevor O’Connell kicked off proceedings by officially welcoming everyone to Óstán Oileán Acla, which will be Rally Headquarters for the weekend of the 11th and 12th March. He welcomed all the sponsors and had a special welcome for Andrew Mullen, MD of ‘Sligo Pallets’ who travelled from Sligo and Brendan Flynn from the ‘Border Championship’ who travelled from Monaghan especially for the night. The Mayo Stages Rally has been the first round in the ‘Sligo Pallets Border Championship’ for the last number of years and their support is much appreciated. Trevor thanked Cathal McLoughlin and his staff in the Óstán Oileán Acla for all their assistance and support in the lead up to the event, he welcomed joint title sponsor, David Devers, Connacht Print & Signs to the Island and thanked him for his ongoing support of the Mayo Stages Rally.
Trevor explained that the final touches are being put in place to ensure the Rally runs as smoothly as possible and that it will be a weekend to remember for the competing crews, spectators, sponsors and most importantly the local residents who have been so accommodating and welcoming to all. He added that without local support and sponsorship, it would not be possible to run the Mayo Stages Rally and he thanked everyone who has come on board – sponsors of Service Area, Marshal Meeting Points, Programme Sponsors, Stage & Scrutiny Sponsors. The weekend is a free family friendly event, one not to be missed and he asked that everyone support the sponsors as without their generosity events such as these would not be possible.
Trevor also welcomed Mary Gallagher and Emmet Callaghan of Achill Tourism and thanked them for their assistance and guidance in promoting the event. Emmet told all assembled that the Mayo Stages Rally will kick start the 2017 Summer Tourism Season in Achill and they are all looking forward to the Rally weekend. Trevor thanked Sgt Brian Murphy, his team in an Gardai Síochana and Mayo County Council, in particular Gerry McDonnell and Councillor Paul McNamara who have been very helpful. Wrapping up the formalities Trevor thanked his Deputy Clerk of the Course local man Peter McManamon and all the team for all their support and hard work and said they were all looking forward to the big event on the 11th/12th March. If anyone would like to help out over the weekend they can contact Trevor, Peter or any member of the Rally Team through the Motor club’s Facebook, Twitter or website.
The Galway Summer Rally took place on Sunday 19th August in the Tuam area and the event consisted of
three loops with three stages in each. After days of heavy rain the roads had dried up well and conditions
were perfect for all of the stages which were a mixture of fast and technical. The entry list was competitive
with crews coming from all over Ireland and Mayo Motorsport Club was well represented.
After the first three stage loop, Derek McCarthy co-driving for Stephen Reynolds in a Honda Civic were
leading class 1, with Mark Taheny and Stephen Gallagher also in a Honda Civic in 2nd place. Ronan Denning
and Karl Egan were leading class 2 in their Peugeot 208 R2. In class 11R Barry Cuffe and Stephen McGing
were the highest placed Mayo crew in 8th place with John McCarthy co-driving for Florian Niedermueller
and father & son team Tadgh and Shane Buckley not far behind. In class 14, Lorcan Moore co-driving for
John Reddington in a Ford Escort were in 5 th place; Sean McHugh & Kathleen Kennedy had issues in the
morning but rejoined under rally 2 regulations. John Warren and Ruthann O’Connor had gearbox problems
with their Toyota Corolla Twin Cam on Saturday and after a great team effort and a late night they were
back on track and finished the first loop in 7th position in class 13R.
After the second loop, Derek McCarthy and Stephen Reynolds were still leading class 1, unfortunately their
classmates – Mark Taheny and Stephen Gallagher had problems which ended their day early after stage 5.
In class 2 Ronan Denning and Karl Egan slipped to 2nd place, while in class 14 Lorcan Moore and John
Reddington held on to 5th place. In class 11R all three Mayo crews had climbed a few places with Barry
Cuffe and Stephen McGing in 7th; John McCarthy co-driving for Florian Niedermueller in 8 th and the
Buckley’s in 11th, while in class 13R John Warren & Ruthann O’Connor had worked their way up to 4th.
A shower of rain before the final loop in the early afternoon did not affect the surface too much and the
road dried quickly for the last three stages. It was a good day overall for Mayo Club members with Derek
McCarthy co-driving for Stephen Reynolds taking the honours in class 1 in their Honda Civic. Ronan
Denning and Karl Egan took 2nd place in class 2. In class 14 Lorcan Moore co-driving for John Reddington in
a Ford Escort took 3rd place. In the same class Sean McHugh & Katheen Kennedy were 5th.
In Class 11R, there were three Mayo entries – Barry Cuffe & Stephen McGing were 6th, John McCarthy
co driving for Florian Niedermueller came 7th and father & son crew Tadgh & Shane Buckley were 10th. After
a testing weekend for John Warren and Ruthann O’Connor, they were unfortunate not to finish after
completing eight of the nine stages in their Toyota Corolla.
Well done to Galway Motor Club for running a great event and a big thank you to all Mayo Motorsport
members who officiated and marshalled on the day.
An eventful day on the first leg of the Jim Walsh Cork 2 day Forest Rally, seen Jason and Matthew Murphy in their Peugeot 107 get caught out on a fast 4Right corner on stage 2, the car slid wide and onto grass, and they found themselves as passengers ending up in a drain damaging the wishbone, unable to get back out onto the stage. They got recovered and got back into service and thanks to fellow J1000 competitor Peter Beaton from Scotland for the use of his spare wishbone and great work once again from C-Sport they got back out under rally 2 for stages 5 and 6 to enable them to score valuable championship points, Day 2 on Sunday’s round had full points on offer and they now looked to that to that to try to wrap up the J1000 title.
And the South Mayo uncle and nephew partnership certainly showed their title intentions as they completely dominated the second leg on Sunday, setting fastest times on five out of the six stages with their 1 Litre Peugeot 107 leading all throughout the second day to wrap up the 2018 Motorsport Ireland Irish Forestry Championship Title and secure back to back National J1000 wins for the 18 year old Student from Shrule, Co. Mayo.
Speaking afterwards Jason said “The stages were great today, but we had to stay sensible and get home to the finish with a few points, so we planned to stay out of trouble after yesterdays mishap, It wasn’t looking too good at one point, but thanks to C-Sport again and the assistance from Peter Beaton we made it back out, I suppose you could say once we got started this morning we got into a rhythm and found it easier to focus and we were very happy with our times today, To clinch back to back championship titles is brilliant, and it’s been a great year, a great series, and to have my uncle Matthew win the co- drivers class is an extra bonus”. “There’s a lot of people behind the scenes that have helped me a lot, Mum and Dad and my brother Niall have been at every event all year helping along and a massive thanks to Mairt Cunningham and the C-sport Rally prep team for looking after the car all year, and of course Ray Fitzpatrick and the forestry team for running the J1000 series and Michael O’Brien for coming onboard again as Championship sponsor. It feels fantastic, hard to put into words, I’m just delighted” Jason added.
The 2018 Michael O’Brien Plant Hire J1000 series for 15-19 year olds will be decided next weekend when the Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Rally Championship roars back into life after a break of three months, with the two day Jim Walsh Cork Forest Rally on Saturday and Sunday. Cork Motorclub have devised a two day event that will count as a double round of the championship (Rounds 4 & 5) with points being awarded for each day. The event will consist of six stages on each day, with the first day’s action to the east of Mallow and the second day to the west of Mallow. Five of the stages are classics of the Cork Forest Rally, while one, a 13km test never used by Cork Motor Club before, but well known in Forestry Rallying will be used on the first day.
18 year old Jason Murphy is favourite to claim back-to-back titles, a feat that would see him rewrite the history books after becoming the inaugural J1000 champion in 2017.
With a hat-trick of wins on the opening three Rounds of the 2018 Championship, kicked off with the Willie Loughman Memorial Forest Rally in February and followed up with a master class display at the Limerick Motorclub Forest Rally based over the Silvermines Mountains in March, before coming from behind and surviving clutch failure at Munster Motor Club’s Moonraker Rally in April, when asked about the possibility of retaining the title next weekend Jason said “I’m going to concentrate on finishing and trying to stay ahead of Peter Beaton, Aoife Gahan and Ryan Byrne, they have all proven during the season that they don’t hang about, we’ve been lucky and as we seen at Round 1, it’s not all about the fastest, you must be there at the end of the round collecting the points. We have a 14 point lead at the top of the championship but with a combined 22 points on offer next weekend for the fastest and when dropped rounds come into play we’re taking nothing for granted”.
“The 1 litre Peugeot 107 has all been checked over at C-Sport, where Mairt Cunningham and his team have done a superb job all season and have got all the little problems from the Moonraker sorted and hopefully it will not let us down, my uncle and navigator Matthew has the pacenotes from Killian Duffy and is studying intensely.” Jason added.
Barring a disaster his points advantage should be enough to see him take the title by just getting a finish on the opening day. Securing another national title would be nice as the South Mayo driver awaits his Leaving Cert results in August!