1 October 2013

O'Brien lifts Valvoline Trophy in Omagh

Third place in Saturday's Bushwhacker rally was sufficient for Mick O' Brien (Focus WRC) to win his first Valvoline Motorsport Ireland Forest Rally Championship, writes Austin Shinnors, PRO Valvoline National Forest Championship.

The Omagh based Bushwhacker was the sixth and final round of this year's series and O'Brien was in contention for the title along with fellow Corkman Owen Murphy and Philip Morrow from Lisburn.  Morrow (Evo9) was the pre-event favourite but he non started the Bushwhacker to concentrate on his plans for Rally GB.

Owen Murphy (Evo9) had a great start in the Bushwhacker with fastest time on the first stage, but his rally and championship aspirations evaporated when the rear diff expired on stage 2, a repeat of the problem that also caused his retirement on round two. Murphy who won this series in 2011, is runner up this year(by one point) but he has the consolation of his co-driver James O'Brien claiming the championship for co-drivers.

The Bushwhacker was won by Derek Mc Garrity (Impreza S14) but he is not a registered competitor in this years Valvoline series.

Mc Garrity had a victory margin of eight seconds over second placed Martin Cairns (Impreza WRC) who was able to claim a full quota of championship points which elevated the Tyrone man from eighth to third overall. His co-driver Kevin Flanagan also received maximum championship points, and this had a major effect on the destination of the co-drivers championship, as it denied Greg Shinnors (Mick O'Brien's co-driver) a maximum score that would have kept him ahead of James O' Brien's tally. Shinnors can add his runners up prize to the three championship wins in 1999, 2000 and 2003. James O'Brien is also a previous winner, having lifted the trophy in 2011 while partnering Owen Murphy.

 This championship has been dominated by the very close competition between the drivers, but there was also an intense struggle by the top map readers.

Fourth place in the Bushwhacker was a great result for Pat O' Connell (Evo9), the Tipperary man was also the winner of Group N. Fifth was claimed by Enda Mc Nulty (Impreza) the Tyrone driver ahead of his fellow county men Frank Kelly (Escort Mk2) and Shane Mc Girr (Starlet RWD). Kelly and Mc Girr were engaged in another 2WD brawl, in which Kelly prevailed. Mc Girr had the 2WD section of the championship won on the last round in Cork. Josh Moffet (Evo9) finished tenth overall, and the points accrued enable the young Monaghan driver to clinch fifth overall and win Group N category outright in the Valvoline forestry series.

Bushwhacker Rally top ten results:

Driver / Co-Driver / Overall Time
1 Derek McGarrity / James McKee, Subaru Impreza WRC S14, 30:12
2 Martin Cairns / Kevin Flanagan, Subaru Impreza S12B, 30:20
3 Michael O'Brien / Greg Shinners, Ford Focus WRC, 30:27
4 Pat O'Connell / Andrew Purcell, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX,30:51
5 Enda McNulty / Paul Sherridan, Subaru Impreza,30:59
6 Frank Kelly / Sean Ferris, Ford Escort MkII,31:05
7 Shane McGirr / Jackie Elliott, Toyota Starlet, 31:06
8 Liam Regan / Damien Duffin, Peugeot 206 4x4, 31:18
9 Derek McGeehan / Darragh Mullen, Toyota Corolla WRC,31:21
10 Josh Moffett / Jason McKenna, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX,31:22

2013 Valvoline Motorsport Ireland Forest Rally Championship

Drivers Co drivers

Mick O' Brien 97 James O' Brien 98

Owen Murphy 96 Greg Shinnors 97

Martin Cairns 92 Jason Mc Kenna 87

Sam Moffet 82 Enda Sheils 75

Philip Morrow 80 Jackie Elliot 74