Local ace Mike Quinn and his neighbor and co-driver Tony Healy took a well-deserved victory on Sunday’s Banna Beach Resort Kerry Winter Rally.
Torrential rain greeted the 106 starters on Sunday morning as they faced four stages in the Ballybunion and Ballyduff areas of north Kerry.
In the end it was Quinn who mastered the trick conditions best , he set second fastest time on the opening stage but slotted into a lead he would never relinquish on stage after early leader Edward O’ Callaghan hit trouble.
It was Quinn’s 18th time starting his home event but aside from victory on the Modified Section of the Killarney Historic Rally in 2009, this was his and Healy’s first-ever win.
The crew picked up the Donal O’Flaherty Memorial Trophy, one of the most coveted awards in Kerry motorsport at Sunday’s night awards at the Banna Beach Hotel and are only the second all Kerry Motor Club crew, after John Kearney and Denis O’Connell in 2005, to win this traditional enfd of season event.
Second-placed Edward O’Callaghan and his co-driver Ger Clancy were one of starts of the show. They set the fastest time on stage one, some 15 seconds quicker than Quinn. Disaster struck on stage two, when their Ford Escort aquaplaned on standing water, they hit a baled chicane which launched them through a wall and into a field. They were able to make their way back on to the stage via an open gate but the whole episode cost them over 30 seconds. The set a string of top times and entered the final stage just 11 second off Quinn in third place and eventually just finished three second behind the local team.
As a result they leap-frogged the Mitsubishi Lancer of Stephen McCann and Lisa O’Dowd who were complaining of a misfiring engine at the end of the day’s action.
Shane Maguire endured a though day at the office, his Subaru Impreza suffering diff problems on stage one and a turbo failure on stage two but his eventual eighth overall was enough to secure his second Top Part West Coast Rally Championship title.
Local crews to do well included Shanagolden’s Ed Synan and his Kilflynn co-driver Denis ‘Connell who finished sixth overall in their Ford Escort. Moyvane’s Mikey O’Connor Jr and Gerry Lynch were 11th and won class 15 in their Lancer. Aoife O’Donoghue from Killarney made her co-driving debut and guided her father Kevin to 12th place.
Listowal’s David Murphy and John Gleeson were next up and won the Kerry Motor Club award while father and son team Charlie and Johnny Hickey were 17th out of the 84 finishers. Ardfert’s John O’Flaherty and Tommy Commane lost out on the junior award on a tie-breaker and finished 23rd overall, one place in front of Killarney/Tralee pairing of Tadgh O’Sullivan and Senan Raggett.
Johnny Fitzgerald, the driver who raised so much money for a Cancer Charity by raffling the co-driver’s seat for the rally finished the event too with debutant co-driver Lisa O’Shea on the notes.
KERRY M C BANNA BEACH RESORT KERRY WINTER MINI STAGES RALLY AT ARDFERT (FINAL ROUND OF TOP PART WEST COAST CHAMPIONSHIP):
1. Mike Quinn/Tony Healy (Escort) 29m 47s,
2. Ed O’Callaghan/Ger Clancy (Escort) 29m 50s,
3. Stephen McCann/Lisa O’Dowd (Lancer Evo 7) 29m 55s,
4. Alan Callaghan/Cathal McGrath (Impreza) 30m 00s,
5. Pat Kelly/Jonathan Kelly (Impreza) 30m 03s,
6. Ed Synan/Denis O’Connell (Escort) 30m 17s,
7. Barry Ryan/Keith Moriarty (Escort) 30m 23s,
8. Shane Maguire/Martin McGarrity (Impreza Gp N) 30m 31s,
9. Paul Purtill/Raymond Scott (Escort) 30m 37s,
10. Jim McKenna/Thomas Treanor (Escott) 30m 40s.
Sean Moriarty – Event press officer