After a long 18 months we finally got the opportunity to get back to the sport we love on Sunday morning last as 52 Crews descended on the old Albatross Facility in New Ross for what proved to be a fantastic day of Motorsport. Credit must go to Brian Kirwan and our organising committee who with the help of a number of Club Members worked tirelessly for the last number of weeks to get this event up and running and it was fantastic to see their hard work rewarded with a very strong entry which included R5s, S2000, Group N and some of the best Clubman (& Clubwomen) drivers not just from Wexford but from our neighbouring clubs also.There were certainly no signs of rustiness from any of the drivers when proceedings got under way and it was former Forestry Champion Pat O Connell who had swapped his Mitsubishi Evo for a beautiful Fiesta R5 who topped the time sheet after Run 1 posting a time of 1:33.97 with the DS3 R5 of Cork man Cal McCarthy 0.7 secs behind in 2nd place with Wexford Motor Clubs James Bradley putting in a fantastic drive to put his MkII Escort 3rd just 1.7 secs down on the leader with fellow Clubman Kenny O Brien also putting in a fabulous drive to put his rapid little Nova into 4th place.There was no let up from Tipperary man O Connell on Run 2, again posting the fastest time, Cal McCarthy had what proved to be a costly spin loosing about 6 or 7 seconds promoting the hard charging James Bradley into 2nd place with Barry Mahon finding his rhythm to move into 3rd place with Kenny O Brien holding on to a fantastic 4th.O Connell continued to lead after Run 3 but unfortunately it was James Bradleys turn to spin his Escort which allowed Cal McCarthy to re-take 2nd place with Barry Mahon holding on to 3rd place just 0.7 secs ahead of Kenny O Brien in 4th. Former Wexford Motorclub Academy Member Jack Byrne was proving he is certainly one to watch for the future with the young Ballinaboola man putting in some fantastic times in his Ford Ka to lie in 8th place as the cars arrived back in the paddock for a quick spanner check before the 2 final runs.Cal McCarthy was the quickest out of the blocks for Run 4 posting a time 3.2 secs quicker than Pat O Connell, reducing the deficit to 5.1 secs with 1 Run remaining. Cal must have been ruing his Run 2 spin as he could have been potentially leading the event at this stage. The final place on the podium was going to go down to the wire however with 4th placed Kenny O Brien reducing the deficit to Barry Mahon in 3rd to just 0.1 secs with the hard charging John Lynch taking his Skoda Fabia up to 5th just 1.5 secs adrift of Kenny. Jack Byrne continued to impress in 8th with James Bradley battling back from his earlier spin back up to 10th place. It was an all-Wexford battle for 15th, 16th, & 17th with Ollie McPhillips starting to get to grips with his newly acquired N.C.R.S prepared Fiesta just 0.6 secs ahead of New Ross man John Boland with the 106 of Paul Dowling just 1.8 secs back.5.1 Secs was always going to be a big ask over 1.6 Kms and so it proved with Pat O Connell setting his fastest time of the day on the last run to win the inaugural Albatross Rallysprint. Cal McCarthy in his effort to make up the deficit had another spin on the final run promoting Barry Mahon to an excellent 2nd and first 2-wheel drive car. John Lynch came with a late charge in his Fabia S2000 to deny Kenny O Brien 3rd place by just three hundreds of a second!! Kenny pushed the little Nova to its limit all day to finish an excellent 4th. Cal McCarthy finished the day in 5th ahead of Lukasz Czapnik in 6th. James Bradley brought his escort home in 7th and but for his spin Run 3 would have certainly been challenging for a spot on the podium. Niall Fitzpatrick was 8th just 1 sec ahead of Jack Byrne who put in a fantastic performance to finish 9th with Carlow man Francis Kelly rounding out the Top 10.John Boland took his Escort home in 15th Place with the 106 of Paul Dowling in 19th and the Nova of Mick Boland 22nd.
Dean Somers on his 1st day out in his Civic finished a very credible 23rd. Patricia Denning was the 1st Lady Driver in 27th place. Wexford Motor Club Chairman Garry Bradley guided his Mini to 28th. Paul Dempsey set a string of consistent times during the day to bring his Toyota Starlett home in 30th just ahead of Event Sponsor Pierce Handrick in his Max Power sponsored Civic. Pierce swapped the Civic for the Tractor & Water Tanker at one stage on Sunday to help keep the dust down and we would like to express our sincere thanks to Pierce for all his help in organising the Event. Current Club Director George Leech who spent his downtime on Sunday trying to convince everyone he was older than his years suggest (We don’t believe a word of it George) took his Corsa B to 32nd just ahead of Hillclimb regular Mark Halligan in his Fiat Seicento. Mark was having a great battle with his sidekick Jonny Murray before Jonny had an issue on the last run leaving Mark with the Cento bragging rights! Anthony Roche in his rear-wheel-drive Starlett ended the day just ahead of the newly built front wheel drive Starlett of Elaine Kirwan. Elaine is of course the wife of Rallysprint Chairman and event organiser Brian who managed to complete the build of Elaine’s car while also finding the time to organise the event! Ollie Mc Philips had set some extremely competitive times in his Fiesta during the day before a Gearbox issue dropped him down the order. Thomas O Rourke would have been certainly hoping to be close to the top of the timesheet on Sunday Morning but unfortunately, he also fell foul of Gearbox issues on the 1st timed run.
The junior section of the event which catered for young drivers from 14-16 to compete in cars up to 1450cc was a great opportunity for our younger competitors to gain some valuable experience. The 4 young drivers who were given the privilege of being the 1st crews out on course were Jack Brennan from Kilkenny and local drivers Jack Kennedy, Cian Murphy and Jack Handrick who is the son of event sponsor Pierce. Youth Academy Member Jack Kennedy competed in a Nissan Micra that was prepared by himself with a little help from dad Mark while Cian Murphy competed in the Youth Academy’s N.C.R.S prepared Peugeot 106 which was double driven by Jack Handrick. Jack Kennedy had a fantastic battle all day with Jack Brennan, and both drove with a maturity beyond their years, and we look forward to seeing the guys battle it out in the years to come. Cian was hindered not only by the fact that the 106 would have been slightly under powered compared to the cars of both Jacks, but also due to the fact he only sat in the car for the 1st time on Saturday! It certainly didn’t take Cian long to get to grips with the car with his times improving on every run and the final results would show he that he completed the last run a whopping 12.5 secs quicker than the 1st run with that time a match for the slightly more experienced guys in the class… Huge credit must go to Youth Academy Chairperson Leanne Carroll and her team for the work she has put in encouraging all our young members over the last couple of years and also to Nicholas Cahill and the guys from N.C.R.S for the time and effort put in to the preparation and the running of the cars giving the kids safe and reliable vehicles to compete in. Also, thanks to David Byrne who looked after Cian and Jack for the day making sure everything was in order for each run.Finally, a huge thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make this event happen. From Club Members and Officials to Sponsors and Competitors who supported our event and anyone who contributed in any way. Thanks to Patrick (Wack) Croke who took on the role of doing our Live Interviews and getting valuable feedback from the drivers on the day. It takes a lot of committed people to run any event and we were privileged to have so many people willing to get this event up and running. It has been a tough 18 months for every walk of life and for Wexford Motor Club were delighted to play a small part in everyone getting back to the sport we love, and we ask that all our competitors support other similar events that are planned to take place in the coming weeks.