SEVEN ROUND CHAMPIONSHIP
THREE FORESTRY; FOUR TARMAC.
PROMOTED BY: CARLOW; CARRICK-ON-SUIR; MUNSTER; TIPPERARY AND WEXFORD MOTOR CLUBS LTD.
As ever, when the TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship arrives at the final round, it’s fascinating to attempt to predict who will be at the top of the podium. To date my recollection is that there was never a clear cut winner and thankfully 2012 is no different.
The championship is class based and encompasses both tarmac forestry rallies. With three on the loose and four on tarmac it may be perceived that the championship is biased towards the tarmac competitor. But this is rarely the case. There are (thankfully) competitors who still compete on both forestry and tarmac. The seven events of the championship provide a reasonably paced competitive year for those crews who enjoy their motorsport without being overwhelmed.
There are three crews who are in the shake-up for the 2012 TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship, Paschal O’Shea / Robbie Hennessey; Ray Benskin (jnr) / Nicky Hegarty; and the 2011 Champions, Shay Power / John Rafter. Their aspirations are conditional on sufficient crews competing in each of their classes to allow them to maximise their points. And let’s not forget the Dick Bailey Wexford Stages Rally is not the usual sprint but two days of tough uncompromising competition.
Currently first overall are Paschal O’Shea / Robbie Hennessey, Class 2, Ford Escort MK2 on 85 points from 6 events. They have maximum points from four class wins (60) and their next highest score is 9 points. They will be out as ever steadily competitive to get another class win and maximum points to seal off a near perfect year. Just one non-finish ( mechanical) in the Munster Moonraker was their only disappointment.
Sharing second overall are Ray Benskin (jnr) / Nicky Hegarty; and the 2011 Champions, Shay Power / John Rafter, both on 72 points. Ray and Nicky hold the whip hand at the moment in the class 4 Ford Escort MK2. Their 72 points are from just four events. Despite winning the class on the recent Stonethrowers it delivered just 12 points and not the maximum 15, due to too few starters, one of the “hard luck” stories. This crew normally compete on forestry only but showed their class and pace on tarmac.
Shay Power / John Rafter, Class 5, Ford Escort MK2 are having a challenging year. First three events, two forestry, one tarmac class wins and the crew were on course for another crack at the title. Lightening struck again in the Ravens Rock with a second consecutive non-finish. It’s the home tarmac event but a little bit jinxed!!. It was back to the winning ways again in the Tipperary Forest but they were the only crew in class so the “reward” was just 10 points. The Stonethrowers was another non-finish, a bit of loose gravel in the breaking area on tarmac tyres. If they were forestry, well who knows.
Third overall are John Murphy / Niall Fitzpatrick, 66 points , Class 4, Escort MK2. At the time of writing John is exploring the “outback” in the ‘land down under’! No mention of being home sick yet, so unless a lotto luck comes his way that’s his score total for the 2012 TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship.
Before I mention the class positions, it must be remembered that crews must compete on three events to be eligible for awards. I’ve taken the liberty to omit those who will not fulfil this criteria,
Class 1. Ken Treacy / Martin Comerford, Peugeot 206, are the only crew in the running in this class. To date two events competed on have 21 points.
Class 2. Pierce Doheny / Damien Lawlor, Opel Corsa, are on 54 points. Acting on the advice of fellow class competitor, Mick Nevin, they have settled to being competitive without being over eager. The said Mick Nevin / David Ford, 51 points, Ford Escort MK2 are having a bit of a mixed year. It may be a case of the winter in the workshop preparing for next year’s championship. (Would he ever get a loan of THAT red MK2 to finish the championship?) Third are Kieran O’Sullivan / P. O’Gorman, Peugeot, 45 points. Competing on the tarmac and are making steady competitive progress as their confidence builds.
Class 3. Class leaders are the Donegal Crew of Adrian McElhinney / Shane Buckley, Peugeot, 52 points. The long trip to the ‘occasional sunny south east’ is partially due to the fact the lads are also competing on the Valvoline National Forestry Championship and also when the tarmac events coincide with the Peugeot Cup Challenge. The budget may stretch to a long weekend in Wexford just to seal the class win. Second are Keith Power / Des Moran, Renault Clio, 45 points. Just two events done so will still need to start in Wexford. Third placed Eoin Nevill / AN. Other, Civic has 39 points, Wexford may be his home event so may well improve.
Class 4. The father and son crew of Alan and James Commins, Escort MK2, 40 points are having a bit of an up and down year. Should win the class in Wexford but pending the outcome of the overall positions may revert to second in class when the dust settles. Second are the Cork pairing of Sean W. Benskin / Joe Fitzgibbons, 20 points, Escort MK2. Forestry only competitors and so are not likely to start. Eamon and Sarah Dowling, Escort MK2 are on 14 points but from just two events, will need to start Wexford to stay in the hunt.
Class 5. The delightful pairing of James Coleman / Kaye Shanahan, Escort MK2, 40 points are class leaders. They normally compete on all the championship rounds but were sidelined due to James having a viral illness. Recovery is complete, proven by the class win in the recent Stonethrowers Rally. Second are Johnny Murphy / Martin Nolan, Escort MK2, 35 points. Wexford is the home event and it’s also their bonus round for points, expect maximum attack. That ever well presented Ford Focus of Oliver Stanley / Whose Turn This Time, has 32 points. A mere point from the Tipperary Stonethrowers was the only fly in the ointment.
Class 6. Regarded as one of the most promising drivers on the island at the moment is Leader of class 6 Garry Jennings / AN. The Other. Subaru Impreza, 51 points. All scores from the forestry rounds. Given the amount of recent events it is probably a bit fanciful to expect him to compete in Wexford. From Monaghan are the McAree brothers Vincent and J.P., 44 points, Mitsubishi Evo 9. Again are forestry only competitors. Wexford’s Graham and Tom Scallan, Subaru N14, 39 points must at this stage be favourites for the class. The win in the Stonethrowers Rally will have honed their edge and they will be keyed up for their home stages.
Juniors. Dario Tempesta / Ger Brett, Nova, 45 points may have the work done, depending on how many start in the class. Ian Downey / Sean Barron, Opel Corsa, 26 points, normally compete on forestry but may be tempted to finish the year with a blast on the tarmac. Dean Raftery / Mark Kirwan, Civic, 25 points, are also forestry competitors again may start depending on the budget.
SAFETY. Everybody has a role to play to keep our sport, competitors, spectators and ourselves as safe as possible. Be conscious of the consequences of your actions.
The Dick Bailey, Wexford Stages Rally, Wexford, Sat.8, Sun 9, Sept. Tarmac rally.
2012 TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship awards night January 14 2013, hosted by the Munster Motor Club in Lismore.
2012 TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship Registrar; Ann Fitzgerald, The Cross, Mooncoin, Via Waterford. ‘Phone / fax. 051 895238. Email; email@example.com.
Press officer, Joe O’Brien, Carrick Beag, Carrick-on-Suir. 086 3154442.