Motorsport Ireland News Roundup
Two major rally championships reached their conclusions over the weekend – the World Rally Championship and the British Rally Championship – and there were plenty of Irish success (and some hard luck) stories on both.
BRITISH RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
Noel O’Sullivan narrowly missed out on becoming British Rally Champion on Saturday’s Modern Tyres Ulster Rally. The Killarney man and his driver, Welshman, Osian Pryce, were in a season-long battle with eventual champions Matt Edwards and Darren Garrod – both crews driving a Melvyn Evans Motorsport prepared Volkswagen Polo R5. It was a case of winner takes it all on the Newry-based championship finale. Just 9.1 seconds separated the two Volkswagen Polo teams as they entered the eighth and penultimate stage in the County Down event.
Unfortunately, it all went wrong for the Welsh/Irish team and they crashed out of the event and handed the title to Edwards and Garrod. The runner-up spot was little consolation, especially to O’Sullivan who was trying to emulate his townsman Mikie Galvin who won the title in 2017. Limerick’s Keith Moriarty, who spent the season navigating for Monaghan’s Sam Moffett finished third in the co-driver’s title race while his driver was fifth in the final standings – the anomaly coming as some drivers used different co-drivers though the season. The Ulster Rally was the final, of seven rounds of the British Rally Championship.
Keith Cronin and Mikie Galvin who were contesting their first full season since they last won the title four years ago ended the season sixth in the driver’s championship and hisfifth in the co-driver’s section. Donegal co-driver Gary McElhinney finished in the title race after spending the season alongside British driver Seb Perez. Former Billy Coleman award winner Callum Devine and his co-driver Brian Hoy were the best of the Motorsport Ireland teams on the event taking third place overall in their Ford Fiesta Rally 2. Josh Moffett and Andy Hayes were one place behind in their Hyundai i20 R5. The Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy crew of David Kelly and Dean O'Sullivan impressed early on but retired after an excursion on the third stags damaged the cooling system of their Ford Fiesta R5.
BRITISH JUNIOR RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
Motorsport Ireland’s William Creighton and Liam Regan (pictured above) won the British Junior Championship by finishing second, behind Eamon Kelly and Conor Mohan on the Ulster Rally. Creighton managed his pace throughout the day in his Ford Fiesta Rally4 to sit comfortably in second behind an on-form Kelly and Mohan, knowing it would be enough to scoop the prestigious title and the all-important 2022 World Rally Championship prize drive in a Hyundai Customer Racing i20 N Rally2.
“I think that was the longest stage of my life,” said Creighton at the finish,” said Creighton. “I’m so delighted with the result and to finally get the Junior BRC title means so much. I’m just so happy to get this result, I didn’t even want to think about the WRC prize, to be honest, but now I just want to enjoy this moment, it's been a long time coming.”
Motorsport Ireland Academy co-driver Grace O’Brien guided Ryan Caldwell to sixth in class N4 in their Opel Adam while Aoife Rafferty and Dylan Doonan’s class win on the Ulster Rally should be enough to secure them a category podium in the British Rally Championship. They drove a Ford Fiesta R2 at the event and Doonan is also an Academy co-driver.
ULSTER NATIONAL RALLY
Fermanagh’s Garry Jennings and his Letterkenny co-driver Rory Kenny secured their first win of the season and managed a top-ten finish but the stars of the show were Jason Black and Karl Egan. Black, a former Billy Coleman Award nominee was sublime in his Toyota Starlet to take second place against a host of four-wheel-drive machinery in slippy conditions.
WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP ACI RALLY MONZA
Motorsport Ireland licence holder Aaron Johnston guided Japanese driver Takamoto Katsutato seventh place on the World Rally Championship in Monza, Italy over the weekend in their Toyota Yaris World Rally Car. The event marked the end of the current era of World Rally Cars with the sport set to switch to hybrid power from next January. It was Johnston’s third start at the sport’s highest level and his best result to date. They set the second-fastest time in the rally-ending Power Stage after a superb job by the team’s mechanics to repair his car in just a 15-minute service following an off-road incident on the event's penultimate stage.
Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy driver and Hyundai Customer Racing Junior Driver Josh McErlean and his co-drover James Fulton were the only all Irish team in action in Monza. They finished sixth in the WRC3 category, one of the main feeder categories to the top level of the World Rally Championship. They were driving a brand new Hyundai I20 RC2 with support from the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy, Hyundai’s junior motorsport programme and Letterkenny-based rally preparation team PCRS.
Top flight autotesting made a welcome return last weekend as TDC hosted the Howard Wilde Memorial Autotest in Greystones Co. Wicklow. In cool, dry conditions it was Darren Quille who won out ahead of all-rounder Christopher Evans and Guy Foster.
Wexford Motor Club ran their second Rallysprint at the former Albatros site in New Ross on Sunday. Keith Power proved to be the class of the field in his Ford Fiesta R5 and took fastest time on each of the 4 runs. Brendan Stone put in an impressive drive in his ageing Subaru to take second place while Lukasz Czapnik took third overall in his newly acquired Mitsubishi.
At the time of going to publication we were still awaiting the final results from Co. Cavan Motor Club's Loose Surface Autocross and will update this article when we receive them.