TWO county Cork crews battled to win the Carbery Night Navigation Trial at The Pike, just outside Clonakilty.
At the conclusion of the 85-mile event, which doubled as rounds of the Motorsport Ireland National Championship and the Munster Navigation Championship, it was the Mallow/Drinagh partnership of Derek Butler/Denis O’Donovan (Subaru) that won. Indeed, it was the second year in a row that they claimed the spoils.
They finished on three penalties, while their rivals, Mogeely’s James Fitzgerald and Ballincollig’s Ken Carmody (Subaru), ended the event on six penalties. Monaghan’s Aidan Sherry/Oisin Sherlock (Subaru) netted a late third place, at the expense of Ovens ace, Owen Murphy, and his Togher navigator, Daire Hayes, also in a Subaru.
The heavy rain ceased prior to the 11pm start on Saturday. The opening section, which incorporated roads around The Pike, towards Ardfield, saw no fewer than seven crews keep a clean sheet. However, thereafter the terrain became more intricate.
Butler/O’Donovan found a lane near Woodfield (T.P. 14) difficult to locate and they dropped time. However, that proved to be their only real issue. Fitzgerald/Carmody also incurred penalties around Woodfield, but a series of complex farmyard lanes at Ballinascarthy proved difficult and they incurred further penalties, which ultimately proved to be the difference.
An all-Cork top three seemed on the cards until the final section, where Murphy/Hayes (Subaru) had two wrong approaches near Bealad and they slipped to fourth place, some seven penalties adrift of Monaghan’s Aidan Sherry/Oisin Sherlock (Subaru).
Meanwhile, the Mayfield/Donoughmore duo of Trevor O’Callaghan/Patrick O’Leary (Subaru) were in trouble from the second time-card onwards. Indeed, they were on the verge of maximum lateness when their Subaru got stuck in a lane near Kilmeen.
Another crew that failed to finish was the Ulster duo of Eoghan Corr/Ruaidhri Nash (Subaru), who retired with a broken ball joint.
While the Ulster crew of James McCabe/Shane Farrell (Subaru) won the Semi-Expert class, Crookstown’s Chris Brady and Bandon’s David Beamish (Subaru) won the Novice category by a strong margin from the Rosscarbery/Clonakilty crew of Colm O’Donovan/Sam Conway (Toyota Starlet).
Meanwhile, Bandon resident, Colin Fitzgerald, and Killarney’s Brian Doherty ((Subaru), who was on his first-ever navigation event, won the Beginners’ category from Tim Healy Pass native, Brian Duggan, and Killeagh’s Eoin Treacy (Toyota Starlet).
Fitzgerald/Carmody still lead the national campaign, but are joined by Butler/O’Donovan at the top of the Munster series, which will be decided by the two Cork rounds in January.
Commenting on his victory, Drinagh navigator, Denis O’Donovan, said. “The event has been good to me. While it’s my second win with Derek (Butler) driving, it’s my fifth win in total. It was a well-run event, but the farmyard complex in Croane, just west of Ballinascarthy, proved to be the toughest part. Every year, it seems, the layout of the lanes and the yard change and it depends on the route the farmer takes with the tractor.”
O’Donovan admitted that Fitzgerald/Carmody will present the biggest challenge in both championships.
“It will be down to the wire, for sure. The Cork 1000 Shakes will be key and we really need to beat James (Fitzgerald) and Ken (Carmody) on that one to stay in the hunt.”
Elsewhere, Waterford’s Craig Breen (Hyundai i20 R5) finished fifth in the Monza Rally Show in Italy, which was won by Andrea Crignola (VW Polo GTi R5). The Italian finished 11.5 seconds ahead of Spain’s Dani Sordo (Hyundai i20 R5).
Derry’s Josh McErlean (Hyundai i20 R5) was 18th.
RESULTS: Carbery Navigation Trial: 1. D. Butler/D. O’Donovan (Subaru) 3 pens. Experts: 1. J. Fitzgerald/K. Carmody (Subaru) 6pens; 2. A. Sherry/O. Sherlock (Subaru) 29pens; 3, O. Murphy/D. Hayes (Subaru) 36pens. Semi-Experts: 1. J. McCabe/S. Farrell (Subaru) 64pens; 2. B. Quinlan/P. O’Sullivan (Subaru) 197pens. Novices: 1. C. Brady/D. Beamish (Subaru) 113pens; 2. C. O’Donovan/S. Conway (Toyota Starlet) 285pens; 3. E. O’Donovan/K. Power (Subaru) 702pens. Beginners: 1. C. Fitzgerald/B. Doherty (Subaru) 109pens; 2. B. Duggan/E. Treacy (Toyota Starlet) 65pens; 3 R. O’Neill/R. Farrell (Subaru) 450pens.