Second overall at last weekend”s Cork “20” International Rally, the final round of the 2011 Irish Rally Tarmac Championship, was enough for Tim McNulty to lay claim to his maiden Irish Tarmac crown!
While Daragh O”Riordan became the first Cork driver to win his home event for 25 years, new champion McNulty also entered the record books as he became the first driver to win both the National and Irish Tarmac titles in the same season. “The conditions were very difficult,” McNulty admitted. “I could have pushed harder and we did have a bit of a go at Daragh on one of the stages but that resulted in a big 360 degree spin. It was a bit of an eye opener. We would have looked like fools if we had gone off, so we aimed for the finish after that.” Driving conditions were made very treacherous by darkness and dense fog during the opening leg, but Garry Jennings and Liam Moynihan put in a great performance in their Group N Mitsubishi Lancer.
Jennings led the rally at the overnight halt, with Daragh O”Riordan and Tony McDaid two seconds adrift while Tim McNulty and Paul Kiely were third. When the action resumed on day two, the battle for both overall and Group N honours was intense. Despite spinning his Subaru, Daragh O”Riordan moved to the front of the field after the opening Sunday stage. He was destined to stay there until the finish, picking up his second Irish Tarmac Championship maximum score, at the same time as becoming the first local driver to win the Cork “20” since Billy Coleman in 1986.
Tim McNulty and Paul Kiely had considered challenging O”Riordan for victory, but a big spin gave them a huge wake-up call. In the end, they opted to drive for Championship points, and second overall was enough for the crew to seal the title. As for O”Riordan, his win was enough to secure second position in the Championship, ahead of the Impreza WRC belonging to Kevin Barrett and Sean Mullally.
Netting third overall, Garry Jennings” and Liam Moynihan”s excellent drive saw them take the 2011 Production category honours after a very close battle with Alan Ring and Adrian Deasy. Scott McElhinney and Karl Reid took the overall front-wheel-drive title from fellow Citroen crew, David Carney and Ray Fitzpatrick. In the modified category, Noel O”Sullivan and Nicholas Burke picked up maximum points but that wasn”t enough to overhaul Geoffrey Dolan and Connor Murphy, who had already sealed the Modified Challenge title ahead of the Cork event. However, O”Sullivan sealed second overall in the standings, with Eugene Ferry third.
In the historic category, maximum points for William Todd and Noel Anderson handed them the 2011 Irish Tarmac Historic title. Aidan O”Connor and Ian Regan are the Post-Historic champions, while Alan Courtney and Paul Soutar secured the Classic title with another victory in Cork. Competitors have enjoyed another fantastic season in Ireland”s premier rally championship. All that remains is the Championship”s glittering awards ceremony, which will take place in the Silver Springs Hotel, Cork, on 26 November. Attention will soon turn towards the 2012 season, when another high-octane year of thrilling rally action is guaranteed!