THE Munster Car Club’s flagship event, the CBtoolhire.com Cork 20 International Rally brought the curtain down on the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship last weekend.
It provided the Northern Ireland duo of Draperstown’s Marty McCormack and co-driver Barney Mitchell with their first International win and also the Volkswagen Polo GTi R5 with an Irish rallying debut win. McCormack became the eleventh driver to secure a first International win in Cork and the 64th different driver to win a round of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship.
For an all too brief time it looked as if Daniel Cronin was going to provide the event with its first Cork winner in five years only for the Ballylickey ace to crash out on Sunday’s second stage. In the end, Dunmanway’s David Guest and his Mitchelstown co-driver were the top Cork competitors finishing fifth overall.
They actually clinched the PlasticBags.ie Southern 4 Rally Championship, sadly, the series organisers did not acknowledge their achievement at the finish ramp at the Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa in Little Island. This regional championship was once hugely popular but in recent times has gone into decline and now seemingly is in a search of a new title sponsor — scarcely a surprise.
Meanwhile, Killeagh’s Cian Walsh took his Toyota Corolla to third place in Class 16A and that was sufficient to win the Irish Tarmac Junior Rally Championship, he was co-driven by Millstreet’s Derry Long.
Conditions for the event, particularly on the Saturday afternoon were horrendous and rally winner Marty McCormack was one of several competitors that paid tribute to the marshals that stood out in the atrocious conditions to ensure the rally continued.
Outgoing Irish Tarmac Historic champions Ovens driver Owen Murphy (Talbot Sunbeam) and his Limerick co-driver Anthony Nestor took a facile win in the Historic section of the 13-stage event.
Leading all through, they finished with a winning margin of two minutes and 4.2 seconds, however, it wasn’t all plain sailing on-board the Hankook Talbot Sunbeam as Owen explained, “We settled quickly and led by around eleven seconds but on the second stage, Lough Allua, we broke a rear right half shaft and lost about twenty seconds.”
Despite the setback, Murphy/Nestor actually extended their advantage to some 40 seconds. They completed a re-run of both stages but on the day’s final stage, S.S. 5, Kilnamartyra, the left rear half shaft snapped. “We lost about 50 seconds on that stage.”
Another welding solution ensured they got back to the overnight parc ferme in Little Island albeit with a subsequent one-minute time penalty for being last out of final service. While he hopes to compete in the Killarney Historic Rally in late November, he has a dilemma to solve.
“Hopefully we can get the axle sorted out, it’s very difficult to get half shafts, they are scarce and also very expensive.
“I have looked at the possibility of hiring a Ford Escort but prices are ridiculous.”
On his Cork 20 success he concluded: “I hadn’t rallied since June and prior to that it was last year’s Killarney Historic Rally, so I was really happy to be on the pace.”
Meanwhile, there were no fewer than eight Cork winners within the various classes. In the main event Glounthaune’s Denis Moynihan and his Midleton co-driver Martin O’Brien took their Fiesta R5 to victory in Class RC2.
In the National category there were wins for Bandon’s Victor and Susan Beamish (Vauxhall Nova) in Class 10. For the second year in succession, Killeagh’s Allen Treacy (Toyota Corolla) co-driven on this occasion by Bob Fitzgerald took top spot in Class 11R.
Former four-time Cork 20 winner Midleton’s Daragh O’Riordan competed in the ex-Barry Meade Ford Escort and co-driven by Mikey Walsh, won Class 14.
The remaining class winners were Cloughduv’s Gavin Walsh and co-driver Mark O’Regan (Renault Clio), who won Class 22, Macroom’s Emma Nott (Ford Escort) partnered by Denny Greaney won Class 23. In the Junior section, there were wins for Midleton’s Aaron McEvoy/Killian O’Brien (Honda Civic) in Class 16 and Glanmire’s Aaron Browne/Daniel Hanratty (Honda Civic) in Class 16A.
At the presentation of awards Colin Byrne, MD of CB Tool Hire confirmed that they will continue to underpin the event. Next year the event will be marketed as the 2020 CBtoolhire.com Cork 20 International Rally.
“We are delighted with the way things have worked out last year and this year. There is a good team in place and the plan is to have an even more compact event in 2020.”
Since its inception in 1969, the Ford marque has recorded most successes with 21 victories, another reason to celebrate in 2020.