|Owen Murphy and co-driver Anthony Nestor|
Murphy’s road to victory was anything but simple however. Locked in a battle for the lead with fellow Cork driver Keith Cronin, number 1 seed Murphy hit difficulty on stage 4 of the Ballyvourney based event when a turbo pipe came adrift on his Mitsubishi Lancer dropping him to fifth position.
With the problem fixed Murphy and co-driver Anthony Nestor dug deep, moving up the leader board as the opposition faltered. Andrew Purcell, winner of the previous round in Donegal, retired after stage 4, while Josh Moffett and leader Cronin both stopped after stage 6 with mechanical worries.
Murphy inherited the lead he had been challenging for earlier in the day but still couldn’t rest on his laurels as a failing head gasket on the final stages resulted in a down on power engine. Murphy’s eventual winning margin from second placed Daragh O’Riordan was 21.8 seconds. O’Riordan, who was making a rare outing on a forestry event was happy with his improvement in pace throughout the day in his Ford Fiesta World Rally Car and he finished 8 seconds ahead of the Ford Focus pairing of Michael and James O’Brien.
In the 2 wheel drive section Monaghan’s Michael Conlon took the honours and finished an impressive sixth overall in his Mark 2 Ford Escort. Perhaps even more impressive however, was the driver who finished just 4 seconds behind Conlon. Dean Raftery, the current Motorsport Ireland Young Rally Driver of the Year, produced a stunning performance in his little R2 Ford Fiesta to finish runner up in the 2 wheel drive section. He finished 4.1 seconds ahead of James Coleman and Pierce Doheny Jnr in their Suirway Ford Escort.