No Siesta for Duffy in Mexico
He’d never been to Mexico before. He’d never contested a WRC 2 round before. He’d never Co-driven a Fiesta RRC on a WRC round before. And he’d certainly never won by nine minutes before. Crossmolina man Killian Duffy managed all of the above last weekend when he landed the biggest win of his career. Duffy summed the week up for himself and rising Qatari rally driver Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari, when he said: “It’ll be hard going back to reality on Tuesday…”
Al-Kuwari dominated the WRC 2 category to bring his Ford Fiesta RRC home 9min clear of Mexico’s Nicolas Fuchs. The Qatari won 21 of the 23 stages on his Rally Mexico debut.
“I thought it would be very difficult here, but we started well and continued to do a good job,”said.“There were no mistakes and no problems with the car. Killianco-driver)a great job. Four hundred kilometres on the pace notes and no mistakes.”
Video of Killian in action in Mexico:
Locals Report From Midlands Rally
By Justin Ryan
Barry Cuffe and Shane O’Brien were highest placed Mayo finishers on this year’s Abbey Hotel Midland Moto Stages Rally. The Castlebar pairing got progressively quicker throughout the day and finished 39th overall in their Escort. Ciaran Kennedy and Pat O’Hora just missed out on a class 2 win in their Honda Civic after leading for much of the day. They finished 42nd overall after just being pipped on the final stage. John Warren and Ruthann O’Connor had a fantastic start to the day and after stage 4 were 12th overall. But after a brush with the scenery in their Corolla on stage 5 they lost 10 minutes to their rivals which they were unable to claw back. They eventually finished in 48th overall.
Unlucky not to finish the event was Niall Morley from Knock who was co-driving for number one seed Daniel McKenna. Suspension damage on stage one put an early end to their day.
A tight finish to the rally saw Chris Armstrong from Cavan come out on top over Rodney Wilton. The pair battled for the top spot throughout and only 3 seconds separated them at the finish. Pat Donegan rounded off the top 3 in a podium dominated by Ford Escort Mark II’s.
Podium for Duffy as Mayo Co-drivers make their mark on Qatar Rally
The sand and heat may have made for an alien environment compared to the wintry wind and rain of home, but for the two Mayo & District Motorsport Club co-drivers who tackled the Qatar International Rally at the week-end, it was quickly a case of business as usual. Both Killian Duffy and John Higgins navigated their respective Middle East drivers Abdulaziz Al Kuwari and Majid Al Shamsi to challenge for overall and category wins on the difficult desert rally. While the Al Shamsi / Higgins pairing ultimately failed to reach the finish, it was podium joy for Al Kuwari and Duffy, bringing their Seashore Qatar Rally Team Ford Fiesta home in a superb third place overall.
Killian Duffy and Abdulaziz Al Kuwari
Based in the Qatari capital of Doha, the Qatar International Rally was the opening round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship, and attracted all the top local drivers including current World Rally stars Nasser Al Attiyah competing on his home event, and the UAE’s Shaikh Khalid Al Qasimi. For Killian Duffy, it was a return to familiar haunts, the Crossmolina native having competed in the Middle East series for a number of years, and hoping for a strong result alongside last year’s rally winner Al Kuwari.
John Higgins and Majid Al Shamsi
For reigning Irish National Rally Champion co-driver John Higgins though, this was a whole new ball-game, the Kiltimagh man making his desert rallying debut alongside Majid Al Shamsi as part of the same Abu Dhabi Racing team as former Ford works driver Khalid Al Qasimi, but competing in a more showroom specification Subaru Impreza. Speaking after the recce before the rally started, John was looking forward to his first Middle East event. “It [the recce] was quite different than what I’m used to, as in the navigation is quite challenging. Sometimes it can be difficult to see what track you should be on – or even see a track!”
From the start, the established World Rally stars of Al Attiyah and Al Qasimi set the pace, with the latter perhaps surprised to lead the event at the half-way point ahead of the multiple previous winner and former Dakar rally winner. Al Kuwari and Killian Duffy suffered from too stiff suspension on their Fiesta on the opening stages, and were effectively out of contention for overall honours by the second stage after going off track and losing one and a half minutes. Nontheless they still managed to hold on to third place overall by the end of the first day.
It was also a strong day for Al Shamsi and John Higgins, impressing observers to finish the first day in the lead of the Group N category.
Day two saw Nasser Al Attiyah come home to record his tenth Qatar International Rally success after Khalid Al Qasimi suffered a puncture, while after the dramas of the opening day, Al Kuwari and Killian Duffy consolidated their podium place to record an excellent result behind the two established World Rally drivers. Speaking at the finish, Killian was happy with the week-end’s actvities, noting that once they had sorted their suspension on day one, things had gone well, including a second overall fastest time on stage 5.
“We were too far behind the leaders to catch them and we had a comfortable advantage over 4th place, so we set a safe pace. Our times were still in touch with the leading drivers but the time loss on day 1 was impossible to make up. 3rd overall is a great start to the championship, the next round is Kuwait in March, but firstly we do a 1 day local rally in Kuwait in February, and WRC Mexico, so a busy few months ahead!”.
After their strong opening day performance, Al Shamsi and John Higgins were disappointed to have to retire on the opening stage of leg 2 with rear suspension failure on the Subaru Impreza. “We didn’t hit anything but the rough stages on day 1 took their toll I would say” said a philisophical John, after what was an eye-opening but encouraging Middle East Rally debut. “The rally was extremely challenging. I never concentrated so hard on stages before. You have to call the notes as normal, but the road might have completely different lines on it after a few cars pass, meaning some corners are more open and faster, and some will have disapeared altogether. You have to make sure that we stay on the rally route using the GPS at the same time. Then you can’t always see the road! Tough going, but overall very enjoyable”.
Like his fellow Mayo co-driver, John will be seeing a lot more of the desert in 2013, as he has signed up to do the full seven round FIA Middle East Rally Championship with Majid Al Shamsi and the Abu Shabi Racing Team. His next event will be the Kuwait International Rally in March.
Pre Event Report:
Mayo Co-drivers head for Qatar
Amid wintry showers and the promise of snow in the west of Ireland, two Mayo lads have headed for the Middle East.
Killian Duffy from Crossmolina and John Higgins from Kiltimagh, both members of Mayo & District Motorsport Club, left Ireland in the last few days to compete in next weekend’s Qatar International Rally.
Killian is co-driving again this year for Qatari driver Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari in a Seashore Group sponsored Ford Fiesta RRC. Last year, they narrowly missed out on winning the Middle East Rally Championship in a Mini JCW RRC. This year, they are contesting the full Middle East Rally Championship, and also the WRC-2 Championship.The first of six rounds of the Middle East Championship kicks off with Qatar. Then it’s off to Kuwait in March, Jordan in May, Lebanon in September, Cyprus in October and Dubai in November. The Middle East car is brand new and is prepared by Motortune in Lebanon.
They are also competing in three warm-up local rallies, in Kuwait, Jordan and Lebanon. In WRC 2, which is the new title for the super 2000 World Rally Championships, Duffy and Abdulaziz are contesting at least six WRC events, starting with Mexico in March, Portugal in April, Greece in May, Sardinia in June, Germany in August and Spain in October. Their car will be run by the Ford M-Sport World Rally Team for the WRC 2 campaign.
It will be a busy year also on the home front for Killian as he hopes to develop further the Ultimate Rally News website, and Ultimate Rally News TV shows, and his own commercial pacenote business requires a lot of time and work, where he is Ireland’s leading supplier of commercial rally pacenotes for every rally in Ireland.
John Higgins, who holds the prestigious, 2012 Dunlop Irish National Rally Co-driver Champion title, is swapping Irish tarmac for the challenge of the Middle East desert. He is joining Majed Al Shamsi as part of the Abu Dhabi Racing team, in an N15 Subaru Impreza. He is looking forward to the opening round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship, and hopes that a good solid performance will lead to more rounds on the 2013 campaign.
John, who was recently heard use the phrase that Killian Duffy coined a few years ago “Have gear — will travel” readily acknowledges Killians’s support and the help that www.onthepacenote.com will give him in helping him get acquainted with his new surroundings, and teaching him on how to deal with the huge differences between rallying in deserts, and rallying on the Irish stages which he is more used to.
Galway International Rally 2013
Photos courtesy of Rally through a Lens
The Irish rally season, and more specifically the Irish Tarmac Championships, roared into action over the weekend with the Safety Direct Galway International Rally. The event took place over a challenging, eight special stages, ran in a one day format.
Triple British Rally Champion, Keith Cronin, from Cork, really showed his talent through the day’s slippy and tough stages, by upping his pace on virtually every stage to win the event, ahead of former, multiple Irish Tarmac Rally Champion, Eugene Donnelly.
Declan Boyle from Donegal rounded off the top three in a Subaru Impreza S12 WRC, behind Cronin’s Subaru Impreza WRC S11 and Donnelly’s BMW Mini WRC.
Local Mayo interest was with Bekan’s Sean McHugh and his co-driver Liam Healy from Achill, who started well in the National Rally, before the Achilles Heel of their BMW M3 Compact – a broken driveshaft – brought early retirement on the third stage.
Faring better was Niall Morley from Knock, Co-driving for Pat Hibbitt from Galway. The pair brought their Honda Civic home in 35 place in the National section, having got progressively quicker throughout the day.
Bringing home crystal from Galway were Justin Ryan from Headford and his new navigator Garry Collins from Cong. The pair brought their Honda Civic home in third place, in the junior section of the Rally. After a sluggish start on stage one, they steadied the ship and found themselves in contention for a podium after no mistakes over the remaining stages.
attention now turns to the Mayo Stages Rally which takes place on March 10th, with entries already coming in rapidly for the Ballina based event.
West Limerick Mini Forest Rally
Two Mayo Motorsport Club Members took part in the West Limerick Mini Forest Rally on Sunday last, which was Round 1 of the 2013 Irish Forest Rally Championship
David Carney from Westport finished 30th overall and 2nd in class 9 in his CITREON C2R2 MAX and Niall Morley from knock, finished 49th overall and 3rd in class 1 in a Ford Escort mk2.
Compelling Competition awaits in Sligo Pallets Border Championship
The 2013 Sligo Pallets Border Rally Championship gets into gear with the Mayo Stages Rally once again the opening round of the series. The Championship will be contested over five rounds with Monaghan, Cavan, Sligo and Donegal also hosting rounds. The unique class based structure gives crews from all classes a chance of winning the overall title. For 2013, Class 11 will be split into class 11f for front wheel drive cars and 11r for read wheel drive cars due to the large number of entries regularly received. The onus on consisent class performances ennsures that the championship regularly goes down to the final round of the series. Competitors count their best four scores from the five rounds. 10 points are awarded to each class winner providing at least five cars started in that class.
Arthur & Mac Kierans will be chasing an unprecedented 3 straight Border title following their championship successes in 2011 and 2012. The Monaghan pair have been the dominant force in class 12 in recent years, but could face stern competition from Sligo pair, Enda Haran/Patrick Corcoran who pipped them to class honours in Donegal. Adrian Cannon/Paddy McCrudden will be the crew to beat in class 2 and have regularly figured in the overall standings come the end of the year. Pakie Duffy/Colin Duffy have been regular front runners in class 3 and Pakie will be hoping to improve on his 3 overall last year. Class 4 should be intense with the likes of Championship sponsors Andrew Mullen/Elaine Doherty, Shane Maguire/Martin McGarritty, Pat Kirk/Peter Ward and Trevor Bustard/Kenny Bustard battling for class honours in recent years. Liam Branley/Samantha Branley in class 6 and Roger Kennedy/Wendy Blackledge in class 7 are both regular border campaigners and front runners in their respective classes. Class 9 was a battle royale in 2012 between Barry McGill/Derek Heena and Justin Smyth/Gregory McQuillan and 2013 should be no different. Gary Kiernan/James Fulton hope to contest the series with Gary having required last year’s class 10 championship winning car from his brother Paddy. Seamus Connolly/Gary McCrudden will be out to defend their class 11 title in their Toyota Corolla. 2012 Class 10 Champion, Patrick Kiernan with new navigator James McCarville have made the step up to class 13 and will face stiff competition from the likes of Declan Gallagher, Columba Heena, Daniel Conaghan, Jonathan Pringle and Michael Conlon. Gary McPhillips, Camillus Bradley, Frank Kelly and Jim McKenna could well feature in the battle for class 14 honours during the year. David Leonard/Darragh Mullen will be favourites in class 15 with Michael Carbin/Evin Hughes expected to be the pacesetters in class 20.
The Championship dates are:
Mayo – 10 March
Monaghan – 21 April
Cavan – 26 May
Sligo – 14 July
Donegal Harvest – 12 October
Duffy Celebrates Win On Kuwait Rally
Top Mayo rally navigator Killian Duffy added another major success to his CV at the weekend, co-driving Qatari Abdulaziz Al Kuwari to a dominant victory on the fourth national Kuwait Rally on Saturday.
Al Kuwari and Duffy lead from the start in their Seashore Qatar Rally Team Ford Fiesta, and by the halfway point had established a comfortable lead over Kuwaiti driver Mufeed Mubarak of 2 minutes and 30 seconds. The pair’s dominant performance continued into the day’s second loop where they went quickest on the final three stages to claim victory by a massive 6 minutes.
The rally, featuring entrants from Kuwait and other Middle East countries, was organized by the Kuwait Quarter Mile Automobile and Motorcycle club under the chairmanship of Sheikh Athbi Nayef Al-Sabah.
The two-round 91 kilometre rally started in front of the Seashell Hotel in the sands of the Julai’a circuit in the south of Kuwait.
Killian’s conquest was all the more significant as it’s been five years since the Crossmolina native stood at the top of a podium alongside a rally car.
There’s little time for celebration though as Al Kuwari and Duffy head to Mexico next week to kick-start their WRC-2 campaign. WRC-2, which is the new title for the Super 2000 World Rally Championship which was won last year by Ireland’s Craig Breen, also includes rounds in Portugal, Greece and Italy later on in the year, while Al Kuwari and Duffy will also be competing in the full FIA Middle East Rally Championship.
To keep up to date with Killian on his travels follow @mayomotorclub on twitter, and log onto www.mayomotorsportclub.com.
Mayo Stages Rally 2013
Winners on the Boyle on Mayo Stages Rally
Photos by Rally through a Lens and James Burke
Cousins Declan and Brian Boyle stormed to an emphatic victory on Sunday’s Hotel Ballina and Kennedy Motors Mayo Stages Rally, finishing nearly one and a half minutes ahead of their nearest rivals Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan. There were celebrations for local success at the rally finish also, as young Shrule driver Noel Murphy, competing on his first ever stage rally, won the junior section of the rally alongside Headford navigator Stephen Monaghan.
Eighty crews left rally headquarters at Hotel Ballina on Sunday morning to take on the challenge of nine testing stages to the east of the town near Bonniconlon and Attymass. Thankfully for the many competitors, service crew and spectators who arrived in town to support the rally on a bitterly cold day, the threat of rain or even snowfalls did not materialize.
As expected, the two World Rally Cars at the head of the field set the pace from the start, with Boyle fastest on the opening test by four seconds, a lead he was not to relinquish throughout the day. Cavan crew Jonathan Pringle and Martin Byrne were the early leaders of the unofficial two wheel drive modified battle, although it was clear from the start that this would be a closely fought contest, with the likes of Russell Woods, Declan Gallagher and Camillus Bradley all setting close times.
By first service Boyle had established a lead of 20 seconds and professed himself happy with his pace. Donagh Kelly was ruing a poor tyre choice, but both crews noted that the tight and technical stages were not especially suited to the larger World Rally Cars, favouring instead the more nimble Escorts and Civics. Nonetheless the nearest modified competitor Jonathan Pringle was 1 minute 14 seconds off the pace, with Declan Gallagher and Russell Woods in close proximity, just 3 and 3 ½seconds behind respectively. Pat Kirk from Tyrone was sixth and leading Group N, while Camillus Bradley was forced to withdraw his Escort in service as his co-driver Crawford Henderson was feeling unwell.
Local honours were being upheld by Balisodare husband and wife team Andrew Mullen and Elaine Doherty who were ninth and holding second in Group N, while Ballinrobe based Sligo pairing John Warren and Ruthann O’Connor were 14 in their Corolla.
The second loop of stages saw the status quo largely maintained, with Declan Boyle continuing to extend his lead to 45.9 seconds by the time they returned to Ballina Mart for the final service. Donagh Kelly had not given up hopes of the rally win, though he conceded he was unable to match the pace of the flying Boyle. Behind them Russell Woods had moved into third in his Escort, but with Declan Gallagher just 2.8 seconds behind and Jonathan Pringle a further 5.9 seconds adrift, his podium place was far from secure. Pat Kirk maintained his hold on Group N with local club member Andrew Mullen over 30 seconds behind and sporting some damage to the rear of his Mitsubishi after a brush with a wall.
John Warren and Ruthann O’Connor were continuing to set impressive times even if their Corolla was showing a little wear and tear around the edges. Just outside the top 20 were Colin and Michael Loughney. Despite a number of car related problems, the Garrymore / Killala based brothers were soldiering on in the hopes of getting a class award.
On to the final loop, and as expected, Declan and Brian Boyle set a fast but steady pace to consolidate their lead, and duly returned to rally headquarters at Hotel Ballina to a warm welcome as event winners. It was their second successive win after victory a few weeks ago in Birr, one which establishes the Donegal cousins as the in-form rally crew in Ireland at present. Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan made no mistakes to take second, while in the battle for modified honours, Russell Woods / Gary Gallagher finished just 4.6 seconds ahead of fellow Cavan Escort competitors Jonathan Pringle / Martin Byrne. The Toyota Starlet of Declan Gallagher / Ronan Murrin was fifth with Raymond Conlon / Darren McCague sixth. Pat Kirk / Joe McNulty were delighted with their Group N win in 7 finishing just ahead of the top local club finishers Andrew Mullen and Elaine Doherty.
Eleven years since the Mayo Stages Rally last ran in the Ballina area, the event marked a successful return that was very well received by the local community. Once again Mayo & District Motorsport Club put on an excellent rally that ran right on schedule, testament to the huge effort put in by Clerk of the Course Padraic Roche and his team.
How the locals fared on Mayo Stages Rally 2013
by Justin Ryan
Young Shrule man Noel Murphy made a fairytale start to his tarmac rallying career by winning the Junior section of the 2013 Hotel Ballina Kennedy Motors Mayo Stages Rally. Ably navigated by Stephen Monaghan from Headford, Noel managed to top the category , which is limited for drivers under 26 years of age, in his WestTyre backed Honda Civic.
Top placed local finishers in the main field were Border Championship sponsors Andrew Mullen and Elaine Doherty in their Mitsubishi Evo 9. Winners of the Mayo & District Motor Club Award were Ballinrobe based Sligo man John Warren and Ruthann O’Connor from Kilmaine, finishing in 12th place overall in their Toyota Corolla.
Darragh Mullen navigating for David Leonard in a Lancer finished 13th overall and won class 20. Loughney brothers Colin and Michael finished 19th overall and 3rd in class 12. Knockmore man Kenneth McHale with Derek McCarthy on the notes took 3rd in class 20 and 29th overall on their first day out in a Subaru Impreza. Barry Cuffe from Castlebar was delighted to finish the event 34th overall after a sabbatical from rallying in his Escort. 37th overall were Ballinrobe father and son team Adrian & Aidan Fahy in their Ford Escort Mark II.
In 40th place overall and in the process claiming 3rd in their class were Headford man Justin Ryan & Ballinrobe’s Andy Walsh in their class 2 Honda Civic. Keith McFadden and Pat McSharry returned to rallying with a 41st place overall finish. John Egan navigating for Mark Ewing in their Honda Civic used the Super Rally rules, which were piloted in Mayo for one-day national events, to full effect by winning class 3 having retired before the first service and rejoining later in the event. Club chairman Matthew Murphy, with his brother Ronan on the notes capped off a great day for the Murphy clan by finishing 43rd overall in his Toyota Corolla. Ballina pairing Tony Langdon and Eddie Quinn were happy to come home 2nd in class 6, gathering a great haul of points for the Border Rally Championship. Mayo Young Drivers Champion Alan Moran with Jared Gill on the notes had a fraught day but still managed a credible 47th overall in his now 1.6 litre Opel Kadett.
The testing stages saw a lot of competitors fall by the wayside throughout the day, among them a number of local club entrants. They included Sean McHugh and Niall Morley in their BMW M3 who were holding 3rd in class 14 until an off on stage 5. Shane Buckley & Patrick Brides were lying 3rd in class 11 after the first loop but failed to finish the event. Ciaran Kennedy and Paddy O’Hora succumbed to engine failure on stage 2. Aubrey Carson and Mary McAndrew’s event never really got going as their gearbox imploded on the start line of the first stage.