Mark Falvey and his co-driver Diarmuid Lynch dominated the Rentokil-Initial Killarney Historic Rally by setting fastest times on all eight special stages to win their home rally.
Even early problems like the gear lever coming off in Mark’s hands as they powered their way through the opening Moll’s Gap stage could not hinder the Ford Escort Mk1 crews clean-sweep of fastest stage times.
The rally followed a classic route of Kerry stages including Ballaghbeama and Collick which was run back-to-back , once in the daylight and once under the cover of darkness.
It was a dream come true for the Rathmore man. He said: “I have won the West Cork Historic and the Cork ‘20’ Historic rally, each of them twice but this is the one I really wanted, it is the only proper historic rally in the country and it is my home event. I really enjoyed the dark stages and want more of them.”
Millstreet’s Denis Moynihan and his Killarney co-driver Shane Buckley reported a trouble free run in their Escort Mk1 to second place while Drew Wylie and Dean Beckett were third making it an all Escort M1 podium.
Rally winner Mark Falvey’s uncle Todd, who was on his maiden outing in a left-hand drive Escort Mk2 took the early stages to adapt to his new machine and eventually finished fourth.
Father and son team Ernie and Will Graham made the long journey from London to compete. Their run was hampered when their Ford Escort Mk1 suffered a puncture on the opening stage and they never recovered the lost three minutes.
FIA APPENDIX K CARS:
1 Mark Falvey/Diarmuid Lynch (Escort) 70m 04s,
2 Denis Moynihan/Shane Buckley (Escort) 71m 40s,
3 Drew Wylie/Dean Beckett (Escort) 74m 48s,
4 Todd Falvey/Peter Falvey (Escort) 75m 42s,
5 Ernie Graham/Will Graham (Escort) 77m 33s,
6 Andy Johnson/Jim McSherry (Volvo) 77m 35s.
There was a huge battle for Historic section with Ray Cunningham and Adrian Cusack eventually getting the upper-hand over defending Clonakilty Black Pudding Irish Tarmac Rally Championship champions James O’Mahony and Kerrie Barry.
Volvo driver James O’ Mahoney se the early pace over Moll’s Gap and Ballaghbeama. Mini mounted Cunningham set a string of fastest times over the latter part of the day to win the category by 16 seconds.
Killarney-based Mini crew Aidan Kennedy and Tara Dugan were third in this category.
1 Ray Cunningham/Adrian Cusack (Mini Cooper S) 74m 48s,
2 James O’Mahony/Kerrie Barry (Volvo 144S) 75m 04s,
3 Aidan Kennedy/Tara Duggan (Mini Cooper S) 82m 09s,
4 Mervyn Johnston/Wendy Blackledge (Mini Cooper S) 84m 42s,
5 Fin Mackintosh/Mike Bartlett (Mini Cooper S) 85m 35s.
County Louth’s Phillip McKibbin and his Tralee co-driver Padraig Brick won the post-historic section despite suffering an overheating engine in their Ford Escort Mk1 during the second running of the Kilgobnet stage. The stopped in a shop in Beaufort village where they bought water, ironically just feet from the fast flowing River Laune, and were able solve their problem and continue.
1 Philip McKibbin/Padraig Brick (Escort) 79m 33s,
2 Tim Lenihan/Kieran Crowley (Escort) 97m 21s.
The Classic rally was dominated by overseas visitors.
Former Irish national champion, Welsh man, Melvyn Evans, is usually found at the wheel of a Subaru Impreza World Rally Car but was on his first outing in his Ford Escort Mk2 since this event last year.
He and his West Cork co-driver Sean Hayde did admit that they were missing the modern technology connected with the Subaru, the Escort’s conventional steering taking its toll on Evans’ arms over the twisty Kerry roads.
Another Welsh man, Gareth Lloyd and his Carlow co-driver Jim Crowe were second and English visitor Alan Watkins and his Cork co-driver William Lynch were third.
1 Melvyn Evans/Sean Hayde (Escort) 72m 28s,
2 Gareth Lloyd/Jim Crowe (Escort) 74m 55s,
3 Alan Watkins/William Lynch (Escort) 78m 17s,
4 Anthony Robinson/Robbie Ward (Porsche 911) 79m 56s,
5 John Mulholland/Aidan O’Connor (Escort) 84m 26s.
Donegal crew Declan Gallagher and Ryan Moore surprised many of the regulars with their pace in the hotly contested modified section.
The Toyota Starlet crew were on their first visit to the Kingdom but left as worthy winners after overcoming the strongest field ever assembled for this popular section of the rally.
Indeed the top five crews were separated by six seconds after the opening Moll’s Gap stage but when early leader Barry Meade’s Ford Escort broke a drive shaft on stage two it should have promoted Wesley Patterson in to the lead. However Patterson, very uncharacteristically, crashed out of the rally almost within sight of the start line of Ballaghbeama.
In turn it allowed Garry McPhillips to enter stage three, Kilgobnet, as the rally leader but he too crashed on this test, , his accident resulted in a blocked stage so all of the following crews received notional times.
When the dust settled after this highly dramatic first loop Gallagher found himself with a scant 0.04 second lead over the local crew of Fergus O’Meara and Mikie Galvin.
The crews promised an epic battle over the afternoon stages and while the delivered on the opening two stages Moll’s Gap and Ballaghbema Two, the battled fizzled out when O’Meara’s Escort suffered a broken exhaust on the second running of Kilgobnet. He lost the best part of 15 seconds to the Donegal man and , reluctantly, had to settle for second.
Last year’s winners Martin McGee and Denis O’Mahony enjoyed a day long battle with Killarney /Dublin pairing Kevin O’Donoghue and Karl Atkinson in their Ford Escorts. O’Donoghue’s Escort suffered an event long misfire, especially in the lower speed sections, and the issue surely cost him some of the nine seconds he needed to claim the final podium spot.
Chris Armstrong and Tom Clinton inherited fifth place when local crew , a winners of the recent Banna Beach Resort Kerry Winter Rally, Mike Quinn and Tony Healy retired late in the day.
The Kerry crew came off the first running of the Collick stage but their Escort Mk2 had suffered a broken half-shaft, they limped back in to the service area at Killarney’s Gleneagle Hotel, where they were able to fix the broken item. The did make it to the start of the final stage but did not actually start it.
1 Declan Gallagher/Ryan Moore (Starlet) 67m 51s,
2 Fergus O’Meara/Mikie Galvin (Escort) 68m 34s,
3 Martin McGee/Denis O’Mahony (Escort) 69m 27s,
4 Kevin O’Donoghue/Karl Atkinson (Escort) 69m 36s,
5 Chris Armstrong/Tom Clinton (Escort) 69m 57s,
6 Phil Collins/Adrian Deasy (Escort) 70m 12s.
The junior tally was dominated by Kerry crews with last year’s winners , John O’Flaherty and Tommy Commane taking a commanding win in their Starlet.
Killarney’s Sean Fleming and Gavin Culloty were second in their Fiesta while Camp brother and sister team Kenneth and Martina Quirke were third in their Talbot Sunbeam.
1 John O’Flaherty/Tommy Commane (Starlet) 45m 32s,
2 Sean Fleming/Gavin Culloty (Fiesta) 47m 09s,
3 Kenneth Quirke/Martina Quirke (Sunbeam) 48m 10s,
4 Diarmaid O’Crowley/Eimear Hurley (Nova) 49m 49s.
Some of the locals to do well included father and son team Charlie and Johnny Hickey finished 12th overall in their Rentokil Initial backed Ford Escort. Kenmare’s Vincent O’Shea and Brian Hickey lost a load of time in the morning, an electrical problem, traced to a faulty gear shift system, caused havoc with wipers and other electrical and they eventually finished 24th. Killarney’s Liaane O’Sullivan made her co-driving debut and successfully guided her father Tadgh to the finish in their Kingdom Crash Repairs Ford Escort.
Firies/Killarney team Cyril Wharton and Helen Duggan were second in their class despite loosing nearly two minutes due to a puncture on the opening stage.
Noel O’Sullivan Jr, an experienced co-driver in his own right, but this was the first time he sat alongside his father Noel. The Killarney team finished second in their class while Gelnflesk’s Denis Hickey and Noel O’Leary were third in their class and the County Down/ West Kerry pairing of Andrew McCormick and Elaine Ni Shea