Oldcastle driver Stephen McCann took a start to finish victory on Sunday’s Banna Mini Stages Rally organised by Kerry Motor Club.
McCann has endured a frustrating season in his class 20 Mitsubishi Lancer but the car ran faultlessly on the fast roads of north Kerry on the 6 stage event.
Heading into the final stage of the rally, McCann and co-driver Damien Fleming had a 13 second cushion over last year’s winners, Daniel Cronin and Shane Buckley and despite Cronin’s best efforts in the closing miles, McCann held on to his lead to emerge at the stage end as the winner by 5 and a half seconds.
The slippy conditions naturally favoured the four wheel drive machines of McCann and Cronin and when leading two wheel drive pilot Ed O’Callaghan crashed out on the second stage, Trevor Mulligan assumed the role to bring his orange Mark 2 Ford Escort back to Banna in third place and first two wheel drive crew with navigator Sean Hayde.
Jack Newman and Andrew Browne finished fourth on what proved to be a very worthwhile high speed test session for next month’s Killarney Historic Rally while Fergus O’Meara and Brian Doherty were the first all Kerry crew home taking fifth overall.
On Saturday, the Monaghan crew of Josh Moffett and Jason McKenna were crowned 2015 Valvoline Irish Forestry Rally Champions following a season long battle with Mick O’Brien. The title decider took place on the Glens of Antrim rally where Moffett set a controlled pace despite suffering a broken wheel on the fourth stage, content to let O’Brien do his own thing.
O’Brien though, who had been running as the highest placed champions registered driver for the duration of the event, got caught out on a sloppy section on the final stage stage affording Moffett a bit more breathing space. Moffett eventually came home in fourth place in the McGarrity Motorsport Mitsubishi confirming his championship success.
Further down the field, another champion was crowned as Patrick O’Brien triumphed in the junior championship after a three way shoot-out with Mayo’s Alan Moran and Monaghan’s Derek Mackarel. O’Brien’s win also nets him a nomination for the Motorsport Ireland Young Rally Driver of the Year Award. The rally was won Mark Donnelly in a Subaru Impreza World Rally Car.
Elsewhere, after narrowly missing out on junior championship glory in Antrim on Saturday, Alan Moran triumphed at Connacht Motor Club’s loose surface Autocross in a borrowed Mitsubishi Lancer. After a disappointing opening run, Moran regained his composure to post a pair of stunning time to take the win by 9 seconds from Cavan’s Joseph Smith. Tullamore was the venue for round 6 of the 2015/16 Hewison Autotest Championship and on his debut event in his newly built Mini Special, Paul Mooney came out on top after a stunning performance on the final few tests of the day edging out Eamonn Byne and Steven Ferguson.
At Snetterton in the UK, Jordan Dempsey and James Roe took fifteenth and seventeenth in the latest round of the Kick Start Energy Ginetta Junior Winter Series. Both young drivers were very much on a learning curve over the 4 race mini series but showed solid progression over the weekend as they adapted to the fast Norfolk track.