Ballincollig driver Owen Murphy and navigator Anthony Nestor reigned supreme on Sunday’s Jim Walsh Cork Forestry Rally after an enthralling battle with the Monaghan crew of Josh Moffett and Jason McKenna.
Moffett took early honours with a fastest time on the opening stage, Streamhill while UK based Cork man Michael O’Brien hit the front on stage 2. On the second run over the opening stages, Moffett once again hit the front in his Mitsubishi belying his lack of gravel miles this season. Murphy had maintained second place from the start, content to play himself in while keeping in touch with the leaders and after lunch Murphy made his move.
At the halfway point Murphy trailed Moffett by just 2.3 seconds but over the final four stages Murphy and Nestor posted 4 consecutive fastest times in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 to take a lead they were never to lose. Murphy’s eventual winning margin from Moffett was just 7.4 seconds. Michael and James O’Brien dropped back as the day progressed, the Ford Focus showing signs of a brush with the scenery, but the points for their third place finish will no doubt help their quest to lift the Valvoline Forest Rally Championship. After round 4, O’Brien remains the points leader in the series.
Behind the 4 wheel drive machinery on the podium, Frank Kelly and Sean Hayden put in a stunning performance to finish fourth overall and first 2 wheel drive car home in a Ford Escort and Kelly’s efforts also saw him lift the Mark 2 Master of the Woods trophy. Niall Henry and John Rowan were rewarded with their long trip from Antrim with a fifth place finish in their Subaru Impreza World Rally Car. Patrick O’Brien and Aine McGuigan finished as the top junior crew in an outstanding thirteenth overall in their rapid Citroen.
The Jim Walsh Cork Forestry Rally was run in association with Crafted Fitted Furniture and Joinery and was organised by Cork Motor Club.