Rally Italy- June 2013
Five rounds into his maiden WRC season, Local man Killian Duffy heads the WRC-2 Co-driver standings by fifteen points after wins in Argentina and Mexico and, most recently, a podium at Rally Italy.
But with the competition likely to intensify in the second half of the season, which features the most popular European-based rallies and the arrival of the first R5 specification cars, Duffy was happy to have make his lead in the standings more comfortable, following his second place in Sardinia.
“This is our first time in WRC-2, and our plan at the start of the year was top five, now we’re leading the championship just past the halfway point, it’s like a dream,”Duffy said.
On their first appearance in Sardinia, Duffy and Qatari driver Abdulaaziz Al-Kuwari, were up against 15 other WRC-2 entries. Ex Formula 1 driver Robert Kubica, won the event the event.
“It’s a good result after a tough rally,” said Al-Kuwari.”We have expanded our championship lead and we expect to be back in Australia.”
Watch him in action here:
Donegal International Rally
Donegal for Sam
Monaghan young gun, Sam Moffett and his navigator James O’Reilly managed to hang on in the final stages of the Donegal International Rally to claim a historic victory as one of the youngest teams to ever claim the title.
They brought their Subaru Impreza WRC home to a 90-second victory over the Ford Focus of Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan after three days, with many of the stages made very slippery by wet conditions.
Defending champions Garry Jennings and Neil Doherty finished third after picking up a three-minute time penalty on Sunday morning, having led for the first two days.
Former National Champion, Claremorris man, Paul McLaughlin navigated Seamus Leonard to a well-deserved fourth place overall in their Subaru Impreza.
Other local club members that didn’t fare as well included, David Doherty from Ballinlough, his rally ended on Saturday when the engine in the Evo 6 he was navigating in for Gavin Harris gave way on the famous Knockalla stage.
Alan Moran from Foxford had fellow club member Jared Gill on the notes, their event didn’t get the chance to get into full swing as their Opel Kadett broke a driveshaft three km into stage1.
Warren Wins Twin Cam Challenge
Mayo & District Motorsport Club members John Warren and Ruthann O’Connor travelled to the Laois Heartlands Stages Rally on Sunday last. The event consisted of two, challenging, twenty kilometre special stages, each ran three times.
The Ballinrobe based pair; got off to a great start in their McHales Farm Machinery backed Toyota Corolla twincam and at the half way point had themselves up to 15 place after starting 30in the morning. They battled hard over the last loop and swapped places with the surrounding cars and at the end of the last stage finished the event in a fantastic 14 overall, and fourth in class 13, narrowly missing out on 3d in class by less than six hundredths of a second.
Afterwards the overjoyed driver and navigator were elated even more when they found out they were the first Toyota Corolla twin cam to finish, winning a special incentive competition “Toyota Twin Cam Challenge” ran by the Laois Motor Club to promote the rally.
A really Toyota-reffic end to the weekend for the pair.
UPS AND DOWNS FOR MAYO PAIR AT RALLY JORDAN
Kiltimagh co-driver John Higgins had a narrow escape at the Jordan Rally, on Friday last. The Subaru Impreza, in which he was competing in with United Arab Emirates driver, Majed al-Shamsi, slid off a cliff face into a ravine.
It fell over 20ft and landed on its roof. Despite the mishap, Higgins said: “We were both fine. We came to a loose sharp left with a big drop, and the back wheels went over the edge. The car just fell back over the edge and landed upside down.” Al-Shamsi added “In Jordan, the stages are really hard. If you go out of the line you’re on the loose gravel and you lose the car, that’s it.
“That’s what happened. I tried to turn the car in but, no way – it just slipped off the ridge.”
The pair emerged from the car unhurt, a testament to the high standard of safety features and equipment, evident in a modern day Rally Car.
Elsewhere on the two day event, which took place at the Dead Sea, Killian Duffy somehow managed to compete, a truly remarkable feat of four rallies in four weeks, spanning three different continents. Co-driving his team mate Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari, the pair were never able to match the pace of the leading trio but the WRC 2 leaders finished a solid fourth in their Seashore Ford Fiesta.
The event was won by WRC regulars, Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and his Italian co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini.
More Podium Joy for Duffy on Kuwait international Rally
Killian Duffy’s rich vein of form on the world rally stage continued at the week-end when the Claremorris based Crossmolina man co-drove Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari from Qatar to third place overall on the Kuwait International Rally, round 2 of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship. The Ford Fiesta crew put in another huge performance to consolidate their podium position in the series, and comes hot on the heels of their victory on the opening round of the WRC2 series in Mexico two weeks ago.
Competing against world championship regulars Nasser Al-Attiyah from Qatar and the UAE’s Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi, Al-Kuwari and Duffy set third fastest time on the opening test of the two day event despite two overshoots. By stage three they were up to second overall, but slow punctures on stages four and six put them back into third position. Nonetheless with only sixteen seconds between them and Khalid Al-Qassimi, second place was still very much up for grabs at the end of the opening day.
Taking eight second back on the opening three tests of day 2, the challenge of the Qatari / Irish team in the Seashore Qatar Rally Team Fiesta for second was looking strong. However a puncture on stage 11 cost 1 minute and 30 seconds, and when the car subsequently lapsed into two wheel drive mode, any chance of overtaking Al-Qassimi had gone. Despite this Killian was pleased with their week-end’s rallying. “Third place is a good finish for the championship, and we showed that our pace is improving every event”.
It’s back to Europe next up for the busy Mayo co-driver as he and Al-Kuwari prepare for the second round of the WRC2 series in Portugal in April.
Killian in action in Kuwait:
Action from Rally de Portugal with club member Killian Duffy who finished 5th WRC 2 co-driving with Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari
Podium for Duffy in Jordan
Killian Duffy’s success in the Middle East continued on Friday last, when the Claremorris based Crossmolina man co-drove Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari from Qatar to second place overall on the Jordanian National Rally.Ford Fiesta crew put in another huge performance on the event which they used as a test ahead of next weekends WRC Rally Argentina.
Celebrations were brief for the pair as they flew from the desert kingdom on Saturday morning and made their way toAires, for whatregarded as one of the toughest events on the WRC trail.
The pair will take a few days to acclimatise as’s Southern Hemisphere location means the rally will take place in early autumn, which will increase the challenge facing the crews as they negotiate the testing terrain in colder and wetter conditions.
Duffy survives last minute scare to win on Argentine debut
Killian Duffy and Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari were fastest on 8 of 10 stages and took a commanding lead of over 10 minutes into Saturday’s final leg of the WRC 2 category of Rally Argentina.
With such an advantage over the rest of the field, the biggest challenge facing the pair was avoiding the hazards that had caught out so many of their WRC 2 rivals.
“We have a good gap so there is no need to push, instead we have to keep our concentration,” said Al-Kuwari, at the start of 23Km Mina Clavero stage, on the last morning of the four day rally.
And just that they did. Killian kept things under control from the Co-Drivers seat of the Seashore Qatar Rally Team Ford Fiesta. The pacenotes rolled faultlessly of his tongue, guiding the pair through a string of long and demanding stages, until the last stage. All was not well with the handling of the Fiesta, and what the pair initially felt was a puncture turned out to be a broken rear cross member.
They gave away some of their advantage with a cautious approach through the rocky repeat of El Condor to take the win from Peruvian driver Nicolas Fuchs by over 13minutes.
“I’m very happy,” said a relieved Al-Kuwari. “It’s our second WRC 2 win of the year and we are now leading the championships for drivers, teams and co-drivers.”
On the back off their current good form, and with their plane tickets already booked for the upcoming Acropolis Rally in Greece on the first weekend of June, the Qatari and Irish pairing have more than a few eyebrows raised in the competitive world of International Rallying.
A Patrick’s Weekend to remember!
Rally driver Brian O’Mahony from Carrigaline, Co. Cork and co-driver John Higgins from Kiltimagh, Co.Mayo will not forget St. Patrick’s weekend 2013 anytime soon. The pair won the annual West Cork Rally, a gruelling event that takes place over two days on 200km of West Corks most difficult tarmac roads.
With a new car to adapt to, it was always going to be a difficult rally. The latest specification McKinstry Motorsport Subaru S14 WRC is a league ahead of their previous car, with John exclaiming “It’s a rocket ship” and Brian commenting that “It’s unlike anything I have ever driven”. This new machine, coupled with some of Ireland’s most demanding tarmac stages, ensured that it was always going to be an uphill battle for the pair.
The rally got underway on Saturday and consisted of six tough stages to test the drivers. Brian and John were fastest out of the blocks recording quickest time on the opening stage. When they reached the end, all was not well inside the car. Brian noted “We lost some time at the beginning of the stage due to some confusion, I am still getting the feel for the car”. The next car onto the stage was Kevin Kelleher in his Subaru but towards the end of the test, his car caught fire and the following competitors had to stop to assist. This meant that the following crews were awarded Brian’s fastest time for the stage.
Stage two saw the duo drop to second place behind fellow Subaru driver Denis Cronin. They were set to drop even more time to Cronin on stage three, when the car stalled on the start line and dropped them roughly ten seconds. At the first service of the day the pair had dropped from first after stage one, to fourth after stage three, over twenty seconds behind rally leader Cronin.
With the car was fully checked over by the McKinstry Mechanics in service and a fresh set of DMack tyres fitted, it was out to the next loop of three stages. Being unfamiliar with the new car showed, as Cronin continued to take time from them. When they re-entered service after the three test, Cronin had a massive twenty-eight second advantage. As day one of the rally came to a close the Cork-Mayo duo would have to claw back time on day two of this iconic event to claim the victory.
A beautiful sunny morning greeted the spectators and crews on day two of the West Cork Rally. Brian and John had it all to do and only six stages to do it, as they were trailing Denis Cronin by twenty-eight seconds. Stage seven of the rally started well for the two who ended the stage only point one of a second behind Daragh O’Riordan in his new Ford Fiesta WRC. This illustrates how close it is at the top of Irish Rallying, only point one of a second separated the two drivers after seventeen kilometers of flat out rallying!
On stage eight, the duo recorded their second fastest time of the rally, a staggering nineteen seconds faster than Cronin to slash his lead down to four seconds, with four stages remaining. Brian commented at the end of the stage that “Yes we are going well now! We have softened the suspension and altered the center differential, it feels much better”. Another fastest time on stage nine left them trailing Cronin by two seconds heading into the final loop of three stages.
The stage wins kept coming and on stage ten they moved into the rally lead, but it was short lived as stage eleven Cronin fought back and was fastest to move into the lead going into the final stage. It was going to be a photo finish.
Brian’s father, Frank a rallying legend in his own right, had never won the West Cork Rally, despite coming close on multiple occasions. There was pride and ego at stake going into the final stage. They lined up on the start line, knowing that they had to complete the seventeen kilometer test five seconds quicker than Cronin to win the rally. They blasted off and pushed hard, towards the end of the test they came across the stricken Subaru of Cronin, who had rolled out of the rally, thus handing them the victory!
Upon reaching the end of the stage the emotions were palpable, as Frank congratulated his son, and Brian and John celebrated their first West Cork Rally win! A Patrick’s weekend to remember indeed!
Report by Sean Hassett
Photos courtesy of Paul McIlroy