The recent Corrib Oil Galway International Rally was much anticipated by rally fans around Ireland and beyond, no doubt due to the quality of the top 20 cars, which hasn’t been seen here for a good few years.
Watching the ceremonial start via social media, the buzz seemed to be electric. The guys and girls of Galway Motor Club have to be applauded for their use of social media on the lead up to the event, as it has raised the bar for other events to aspire to.
No. Driver/Navigator (Car) [Class]
1 Garry Jennings/Rory Kennedy (Subaru Impreza WRC S12B) 
2 Declan Boyle/Brian Boyle (Ford Fiesta WRC) 
3 Derek McGarrity/Diarmuid Falvey (Ford Fiesta WRC) 
4 Roy White/James O’Brien (Ford Fiesta WRC) 
5 Tim McNulty/Paul Kiely (BMW Mini WRC) 
6 Dean Raftery/Mark Kane (Subaru Impreza S9 WRC) 
7 Declan Gallagher/Ryan Moore (Subaru Impreza S8 WRC) 
8 Keith Cronin/Mikey Galvin (Citroen DS3 R5) 
9 Josh Moffett/Jason McKenna (Ford Fiesta R5) 
10 Alastair Fisher/Gordon Noble (Ford Fiesta R5) 
11 Sam Moffett/Karl Atkinson (Ford Fiesta R5) 
12 Stephen Wright/James Fulton (Ford Fiesta R5) 
14 Joseph McGonigle/Ciaran Geaney (Skoda Fabia S2000) 
15 Jonathan Greer/Kirsty Riddick (Citroen DS3 R5) 
16 Desi Henry/Liam Moynihan (Skoda Fabia R5) 
17 Aaron Machale/Enda Sherry (Skoda Fabia S2000) 
18 Brendan Cumiskey/Ronan O’Kane (Ford Fiesta R5) 
19 Tomas Davies/Eurig Davies (Ford Fiesta R5) 
20 Wesley Patterson/Johnny Baird (Ford Escort RS Mk2) 
Corrib Oil Galway International Rally
To say Saturday morning started with a bang would be an understatement! Tim McNulty, in his MINI WRC, was running 4th car on the road when he collided with a telegraph pole on stage one, temporarily blocking the road. As a result the following 6 cars were awarded nominal times for the stage. Soon after the stage went live again, Tommy Doyle in the Fabia S2000 slid wide at the same corner and was also forced to retire.
Garry Jennings, in his Subaru Impreza S12B, set stunning times over the first stages to take a 21.4 sec advantage into the first service. Declan Boyle in his Fiesta WRC was best of the rest at this stage. Declan Gallagher was setting times that saw him lead the National Rally (his Subaru S8 was no longer homologated). His times would have seen him in 3rd place in the overall standing. This was some achievement considering this was Declan’s first competitive outing in the car, having only had limited testing.
Desi Henry was setting the Class 5 pace in his Fabia R5, thanks to the nominal times received by his pursuers on SS1 as Keith Cronin, DS3 R5, trailed by 0.1secs and Alastair Fisher a further 1.7sec adrift in his Fiesta R5 Evo.
The second loop brought even more drama as Declan Gallagher had a big off on SS5 and then on SS6 Declan Boyle also went off. Both these incidents saw all following competitors receiving nominal times for the stage. The third loop passed without incident for the leaders, so as the crews returned to parc ferme for the overnight halt, Jennings had a 2mins 27secs lead over Keith Cronin. Keith had gotten ahead in class 5 from Fisher by 2.4secs and Henry in third a further 14.1 secs back. The competitiveness of the Class 5 crews is clearly evident when, after the first day, the top8 were covered by 1min 40secs.
As the crews set out early Sunday morning, the pressure was on Garry Jennings to bring it home for his first Galway victory; Rory Kennedy had previously won the rally with Bertie Fisher and Mark Higgins, so Garry was in safe hands. As the cars left the Black Road start line, all was still to play for. First to blink was Cronin, who slid wide on an early junction (losing 5-10secs) Unfazed, the Ballylickey man kept his cool, extending his lead over Fisher to 6.2 secs going into first service. Sam Moffett in his newly acquired Fiesta R5 Evo had nipped ahead of Henry into third by 0.9secs.
The second loop of stages brought a change, as firstly Alastair Fisher overshoot a junction and lost vital seconds to Cronin, but worse was to follow when Desi Henry put his R5 Fabia of the road and out of the rally.
The final two stages brought no major retirements; Garry Jennings brought his Subaru S12b to a clear victory by over 3mins. Cronin & Fisher were separated by 16secs in the end. The top 7 Class 5 crews were covered by less than 2mins 30secs, which proves the competitiveness of the main point scoring class in the championship.
International Rally Class Winners
Class Crew Car
2 Callum Devine/ Keith Moriarty Opel Adam
3 Richard & John Whelan Citroen DS3
4 David Guest / Paddy Robinson Mitsubishi Evo9
5 Sam Moffett/Karl Atkinson Fiesta R5
7 Roy White / James O’Brien Fiesta WRC
The Corrib Oil Galway National Rally
Declan Gallagher was the class of the field over the first loop of stages, and by first service he had opened up a 30sec lead over Chris Armstrong in his Millington powered Escort. Eugene Meegan, in an unusual BMW M1, was less than a second behind, in 3rd. The next 3 stages saw all change as Gallagher rolled out and Armstrong broke a driveshaft, and as the day ended Meegan held a narrow lead over Wesley Patterson, with Tom Flaherty back in third, both in class 14 Escorts.
Day two saw the leader’s trade times over the first loop, only for Meegan to encounter problems early in the second loop which forced his retirement. Patterson, co-driven by Johnny Baird, held his nerve and took a controlled victory over Tom Flaherty in second and in third was Jason McSweeney in his class 20 Evo9.
Modified Class Winners
Class Crew Car
10 Declan Forde / Chris King Ford Escort
11F John O’Sullivan / Eoghan McCarthy Honda Civic
11R Frank Rafferty / Warren Tighe Talbot Sunbeam
12 Tommy & Kevin Flanagan Ford Escort
13 Patrick McHugh / Pauric O’Donnell Ford Escort
14 Davy Armstrong / Martin McGarrity Ford Escort
15 Tommy Cahill/Enda O’Leary Evo
17 Des Lyons/Shay Laheen Honda Civic
20 Andrew Fanning / Andy Hayes Fiesta
Jnrs KieranO’Donoghue/Peter Falvey Honda Civic
Hist Ray Cunningham/Adrian Cusack Mini Cooper S
2016 has started off with a lot of positives, the Class 5 crews have raised the bar in terms of competitiveness, and hopefully the numbers that we saw in Galway continue and even increase as the year progresses. A cause for concern in Galway this year was the sparse Historic entry. Last year the Historic section of the championship was extremely well supported and possibly benefited from the lack of a main historic championship in the UK. These crews were all absent from Galway, but hopefully they return as the year continues as they produced some exciting competition last year.
Hopefully the general public can understand that the car that has won the rally is not the car that can win the championship. It is likely that a WRC will win most if not all the rounds of the Irish Tarmac Championship in 2016, but this is a year of transition for the Tarmac Championship and 2017 will bring greater clarity.
Galway has hopefully started to answer who is the winner? In my opinion the answer is Irish rallying! What most true rally fans want is to see is cars driving hard and aggressively and we definitely got to see that in that in spades.
Top 10 International Finishers
1 Garry Jennings/Rory Kennedy (Subaru Impreza WRC) 1h 42m 58s,
2 Keith Cronin/Mikey Galvin (Citroen DS3 R5) 1h 46m 23s,
3 Alastair Fisher/Gordon Noble (Ford Fiesta R5) 1h 46m 40s,
4 Sam Moffett/Karl Atkinson (Ford Fiesta R5) 1h 47m 28s,
5 Roy White/James O’Brien (Ford Fiesta WRC) 1h 47m 40s,
6 Josh Moffett/Jason McKenna (Ford Fiesta R5) 1h 48m 18s,
7 Joe McGonigle/Ciaran Geaney (Skoda Fabia S2000) 1h 48m 37s,
8 Jonny Greer/Kirsty Riddick (Citroen DS3 R5) 1h 48m 39s,
9 Stephen Wright/James Fulton (Ford Fiesta R5) 1h 48m 53s,
10 David Guest/Paddy Robinson (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 Gp N) 1h 52m 18s.
Top 10 Nationals Finishers
1 Wesley Patterson/Johnny Baird (Ford Escort) 1h 50m 52s,
2 Tom Flaherty/Patrick Curley (Ford Escort) 1h 52m 01s,
3 Jason McSweeney/Stephen Quin (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) 1h 52m 31s,
4 Patrick McHugh/Pauric O’Donnell (Ford Escort) 1h 52m 49s,
5 Andrew Fanning/Andy Hayes (Ford Fiesta) 1m 54m 41s,
6 Ross Marshall/Dave Robson (Ford Escort) 1h 54m 46s.
7 Davy Armstrong/Martin McGarrity (Ford Escort) 1h 55m 31s
8 John O’Sullivan/Eoghan McCarthy (Honda Civic) 1h 57m 45s
9 Tommy Cahill/Enda O’Leary (Mitsubishi Evo) 1h 58m 46s
10 Justin & Adrian Comer (Mitsubishi Evo) 1h 59m 01s