There are few places in the world that can match the Killarney stages and when run in December they present an even tougher challenge. For Mark Falvey and Diarmuid Lynch though it was a case of a job well done as they took top points in the opening round of the Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Historic Championship, the Rentokil Initial Killarney Historic Rally. The top seeds Falvey and Lynch led the 120 plus starters as top seeds in their Mark 1 Escort to tackle a loop of stages that included Molls Gap, Beallaghbeama, Kilgobnet and Coolick.
From the start it was obvious that they were the crew to catch despite the best efforts of Denis Moynihan and Shane Buckley in a similar car. By the end of the first loop of three stages Falvey led by 20 seconds from Moynihan with Alan Watkins in third place in another Escort and Drew Wylie fourth over a minute further back. There was disappointment for John Spiers and Susanne Niedrum as they retired their Porsche after the first stage.
The second loop of three stages saw Falvey extend his lead despite a broken gear leaver and the lead was almost out to a minute over Moynihan. Melvyn Evans was holding third in the category which was a bonus for his co-driver Sean Hayde who was registered for the Historic series. Drew Wylie, Ray Cunningham and 2013 champion James O’Mahony were battling it out for third place among the championship contenders and there was very little to choose between them.
The sting in the tail was two runs over the Coolick stage, one in daylight and the other n darkness. It didn’t matter to Falvey though as he extended his lead out to over 90 seconds by the end of the event from Moynihan. A very late charge saw Ray Cunningham pip Drew Wylie by just 0.7 seconds with James O’Mahony only 15 seconds further back. Todd Falvey who had made the switch to an Escort after many years campaigning a Porsche came sixth of the championship contenders. Ernie Graham who lost a lot of time on the first stage with a puncture was next up followed by the Chevette HSR of Andy Johnston. Alan Watkins and Philip McKibbin rounded off the top ten placing’s.
Championship Standings after Round 1 sees Mark Falvey on 22.5 points, Denis Moynihan on 18 and Ray Cunningham on 15. For a full listing of points and overall placing’s (including the various categories) please log on to www.irishtarmac.com.
Photo is courtesy of Paul McIlroy.