SES 2011: Carlow Tarmac Stages Rally Event Preview

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The South East Stages Rally Championship

The opening three rounds of the 2011 TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship were crackers. Each event had its own distinct personality. All were forestry. To Mitchelstown for the Tipperary Sean Conlon Forestry rally over the well tried and tested stages surrounding the Co-operative town.

The 2011 TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship is class based allowing competitors from any of the six classes to win the championship outright.

 Three crews shared the top positions when stones settled. Overall winner and winner of class 6 were Corks Owen Murphy and James O'Brien in the Mitsubishi Lancer on 30 points. Ray Benskin (jnr) / Ollie Kierce, Escort MK2 won class 4. Frank Kelly / Liam Brennan, Escort MK2 won class 5. All on 30 points virtue of the bonus points system.

Next it was to the Willie Loughman forestry rally promoted by the Carrick-on-Suir Club. Novel for this event was the decision to have the rally on Saturday afternoon with the late stages in the dark. This was new challenge for many of the crews who experienced their first event with the dancing shadows and the hollow voids of the dark spaces. Old hands of night navigation events showed that "practice makes perfect" Murphy and O'Brien chalked up another win to nail first place in the 2011 TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship with 45 points.

 Second O/A was shared by Douglas Stewart / Billy Ryan, Peugeot, class 2 and Shay Power / Johnny Rafter, Escort MK2, class 5, both on 40 points.

Third O/A was also shared; Mick Cuddihy / James Dunphy, Starlet, class 3 and Ray Benskin (jnr) / Ollie Kierce, Escort MK2, class 4, both on 39 points.

Round three was the Munster Clubs Moonraker Rally in Lismore. It could just as easy have been Lisbon; to say it was sweltering would only be a slight exaggeration, because the sun shone from a cloudless sky and the stages were in fine condition. The 2011 TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship had a new leader with Douglas Stewart / Billy Ryan winning class 2 again amassing 55 points, to see leaders Murphy / O'Brien who ended their run with a blown head gasket. This is a fantastic achievement by a FWD car in the usual playground of the Escort MK2 and 4X4’s.

Second O/A are Derek Butler / Diarmuid O’Shea, Honda Civic, class 2 on 48 points. Once again a FWD more than holding its own on the loose. I suppose it’s ok to finish second in class in the “works spec” Ford Fiesta of Craig Breen who is one of the leading lights in Irish rallying!

Third O/A are James Coleman / Michael Haley, Escort MK2, class 5 on 47 points. The Mk2 is undergoing some development work in the suspension department.

The class positions are equally competitive. The current state of play of rallying in Ireland is that the ‘clubman’ has held onto the Euros required for his hobby and didn’t lose the run of himself in the time of the tiger. There were healthy entries on the first three rounds of the 2011 TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship and indeed the Valvoline National Forestry Rally Championship. Indeed the National Tarmac rally championship has so far early in the season been well supported.

As we eagerly look forward to the tarmac rounds of the 2011 TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship we wish the promoting clubs healthy entries. Far too many events are running at a loss and need support from outside of the competitors entry fees. Advertising and sales of programmes are just two other means of supporting the sport. To all who buy the programmes, thank you for your support.

SES 2011: Moonraker Forestry Stages Rally Event Preview

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The South East Stages Rally Championship

It’s back to the historic town of Lismore for round three of the 2011 TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship. This is also the final forestry round before we head for the tarmac stages in Carlow.

The first two rounds were crackers, the Tipperary Sean Conlon Forestry had one of the biggest entries for a forestry rally in many years, allaying fears that rallying would suffer mightly in these recessionary times. Thankfully the resilient rallying clubmen have been prudent with their lifestyles and have a few Euro aside to spend on their chosen pastime. Thirty crews signed up for the  2011 TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship, relief all round that we were up and running.

The Willie Loughman, Carrick-on-Suir Forestry Rally was next up with a few innovative features. It ran on a Saturday with an afternoon start time, allowing scrutiny on Saturday morning and with the novel attraction of night time stages. This was a fantastic experience for all as it pushed out the boundaries for everybody. So it’s off with the light pods and time to savour the fast flowing stages in the heartland of Co. Waterford.

As usual the championship doesn’t really take shape until the second round has been completed. The 2011 TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship is class based so all crews regardless of budget have an even chance of winning the championship.

2011 TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship leaders, Owen Murphy, James O’Brien, Mitsubishi Lancer, class 6 have really stamped their mark on the championship with back to back wins on the opening two rounds, plus bonus points on the opening round, total 45 points.  He is a serious competitor on forestry and a talent to be nurtured. They are also making a determined attempt at the Valvoline National Forestry Rally Championship. So expect them to take another overall win today.

Second O/A are Derek Butler/Diarmuid O’Shea, Class 2, Honda Civic on 42 points. Another Cork crew, perhaps a revival of rallying talent from Cork is in the making! They were class winners in Mitchelstown and runners up in Carrick giving way to a well prepared and driven Escort MK2. This belays the assumption that the Civic is a bit ‘soft’ for the travails of forestry.

Third O/A is shared by two crews (the beauty of a class based championship) one from class 2 and the other class 5. Lowest number first, Douglas Stewart / Billy Ryan, Peugeot 206, class 3 on 40 points, just two less than second o/a in the same class. There should be a ‘class’ battle here for the pecking order honours. The address is Dublin but I suspect Co. Wicklow is nearer the mark as the Dubs wouldn’t be used to the forestry tracks!

On the exact same scoring are the Carrick crew of Shay Power / Johnny Rafter, class 5, Escort MK2. Shay is a well known forestry competitor who can more than hold his own on tarmac. Rally is for enjoyment and the results will look after themselves. It’s a form of relaxation he says, Johnny Rafter will be poaching entries for the Ravens Rock (round 5 of the championship)

An observation at this point; the majority of crews have declared their bonus rounds befor getting onto the tarmac rounds.

Class 1 is being led by a country mile by Emmet Cronin / R. Long in the screamer of a MK2 Escort on 17 points. Their bonus round was a non finish in Mitchelstown. Richie Long is making a comeback before the midlife crises sets in.... Second are Andy Fanning / Paddy King in the Ford Ka. What a difference a year makes, 2010 TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship winner with a flawless run of finishes to two rounds gone and two non-finishes. A tough sport, this rallying! No doubt this will change rapidly...

Class 2. The ever present  TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship competitor and past multi winner, Mick Nevin / Mike Garahy, Ford Escort MK2, 21 points are just one point ahead of Paschal O’Shea / R Hennessey, Ford Escort MK2, on 20 points. One a youngish charger the other a little older but resilient and both well up for the remaining rounds. An aside here, both crews have has equipment stolen at a recent event. There is a lot of low life out there waiting for the opportunity to steal and rob. Information gratefully and anonymously appreciated.

Class 3. The rip roaring going up a gear when all else are coming down, Mick Cuddihy / J. Dunphy, Toyota Starlet are well ahead on 39 points. Flamboyant and fantastic to watch and always competitive. Second are another Tipperary crew, Noel Wade / E. Touhy, Escort MK2 on 21 points. Third is one to watch for the present and the future, Craig Breen / G. Roberts Ford Fiesta R2, 15 points.  This crew are “world class” competing on the WRC stages and it’s fantastic to have them compete on the domestic scene. They will compete on selected events of the 2011 TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship. Every event is an opportunity to hone their skills.

Class 4. As said earlier, there is a rallying revival in Cork. It’s home of the Ford Marque and home to the Benskin’s of Ballycotton, Co. Cork. Class 4 is the preserve of the Benskin family.  Ray Benskin (jnr) / Ollie Kierce, Ford Escort 39 points, Ray Benskin / P. Walsh, Ford Escort, 34 points, Sean W. Benskin / Joe Fitzgibbon, Ford Escort, 32 points. What more is there to say, except, ‘let the battle continue’ Just for the record, Alan and James Commins, Ford Escort and Paul Quinlan /T Cuddihy, Sunbeam who are also in the class.

Class 5. James Coleman / M Haley, Ford Escort are heading a tightly bunched class on 32 points. Frank Kelly / Liam Brennan, Ford Escort, 30 points ffirst round. A returnee to rallying, after a bit of a lay off are Ed Colton / C. O’Mahony, Peugeot 306 on 28 points. Welcome back Ed, a bit more match practice and the younger lads will have their work cut out.


SES 2011: Willie Loughman Forestry Stages Rally Event Preview

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The South East Stages Rally Championship

What a relief to have the first round of the 2011 TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship completed. Relief, because who knew what the future of rallying was to be this year in a country so utterly financially depressed and lacking in belief? The Galway International Rally was the first to bear the brunt of the economic woes and was a possible indicator of what was in store for the upcoming events. But Gloria hallelujah the Sean Conlon Forestry rally gave the indications that clubman rallying was surviving the recession and that there is hope for the “ordinary” competitors. The Birr Stages rally, the first round of the Dunlop tarmac championship is also boasting a healthy quality entry. LONG LIVE THE CLUBMAN.

The Sean Conlon Tipperary Forestry Rally had a massive 64 starters, many came late in the day but there appears to have been a lot of hard graft put in by the club and competitors to get the year off to a good (great) start. Valvoline are sponsoring the National Forestry Rally Championship and the pre season publicity has paid off. Long may the two championship trade off each other.

Andrew Fanning, the 2010 TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship victor, was well fired up for the challenge of his local event and having a crack at both championships. The Ford Ka got a power boost but his fears about the durability of the drives were well founded, resulting in a rare non-finish. Bang went his opening gambit and the pain of blowing his bonus round points. Ouch. His fellow competitors in Class 1 suffered the same non-finishing fate and coincidentally also blew their bonus points. So it’s all even in class 1.

Class 2 had just two crews registered. Derek Butler / Diarmuid O’Shea, Honda Civic were the winners and used their bonus points to kick off their championship with 24 points. The ever competitive Mick Nevin / Michael Garahy, Ford Escort MK2 were second with 10 points.

Class 3 was won by one of the natural talents of forestry rallying Mick Cuddihy with former driver James Dunphy on the notes. The little Starlet fairly bucked it way around the stages to finish 11th overall. The bonus points are held in reserve so the haul was 15 points. Second were the Dublin based crew of Douglas Stewart / Billy Ryan in the Peugeot 206. Again the bonus points were not engaged so are on 12 points. Third in class are and from the well known Carlow motorsport family were Emmet Watchorn / John hade in a Peugeot 106 on 10 points.

Class 4 was won by one of the longest and most regular competitors in forestry rallying, Ray Benskin / Peadar Walsh, Ford Escort MK2. They engaged their bonus points and are one of the joint leaders of the 2011 TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship on 30 points. Keeping the class honours in the family name were Sean W. Benskin / Joe Fitzgibbon also Ford Escort MK2 on 24 points. Third were the local crew of Paul Quinlan / Tommy Cuddihy in a Talbot Sunbeam on 10 points.

Class 5, the power and exhibition of two wheel drive has to be seen to be believed in this class, mainly dominated by MK2 Escorts. Class winners and actually third O/A were Frank Kelly / Liam Brennan who made the long haul from Co. Tyrone. They wasted no time used their bonus points to co-lead the 2011 TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship on 30 points. Next up championship wise were another Cork crew, Ray Benskin (jnr) /  Nicky Hegarty, Escort MK2 on18 points. How many of the current rally generation can recall seeing Ed Colton / Claire O’Mahony in a Peugeot 306. Ed has been synonymous with this marque for most of his rally career and it was just great to see him back not only competing but also competitive. His 16 points also used up his bonus points. Actually second and third in class were James Coleman (12) and Shay Power (10) points.

Class 6 proves that there may be some prudent competitors about in rallying as it’s the best supported class. First and second O/A also are first and second in the class. Owen Murphy / James O’Brien, Mitsubishi Lancer are co-leaders of the 2011 TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship on 30 points. John Reid / Enda Sheil in the Toyota Corolla are second on 24 points. A spectacular car to see on the forestry stages. Perhaps the one remaining WRC cars to be seen in the forestry rallies. Third are the Co. Monaghan crew, Vincent and J. P. McAree in a Mitsubishi Lancer on 18 points. All three crews used their bonus points so there will be no surprises from that trio. For the record Ian Cochrane / Ray Fitzpatrick, also in a Mitsubishi Lancer were third in class but hold fourth place with 10 points.

That’s the state of play at the moment. Long may the clubman championships and events prosper in these uncertain times.


2011 TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship: Sean Conlon Forestry Rally Event Preview

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The South East Stages Rally Championship



It gives me great pleasure to introduce you to the 2011 TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship. Once again the five clubs have come together with sponsorship from TRITON SHOWERS to offer the rallying clubman the opportunity to compete in the best rally championship available anywhere on the island of Ireland.

Congratulations to the 2010 TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Champions, Andrew Fanning / Alan McCormac in the Ford Ka / Puma, Class 1. Once again reliability was the key to their success. Not a big budget outfit by any means, but good preparation and a large degree of mechanical sympathy paid the deserved dividends. Proof in itself that the TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship is a genuine clubman rally championship.

The format and structure of the TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship allows competitors approach their years rallying on a cost competitive basis. Being a class based championship it’s possible for a crew from any of the six classes to be the outright winner. So a crew with a well thought out structure, attitude and approach can take the spoils at the year end. As can be seen from the regulations, the forestry rallies are run concurrently so those who intend doing all the events will need to change the setup only once.

We would encourage competitors to canvass the support of their fellow competitors who may not intend to compete in a championship to register for the TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship. On occasions in the past some crews, although wining their class, were denied maximum points due to insufficient numbers starting some events.

Once again this year, taking cognisance of the current state of the economy and to encourage competitors to register and compete in TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship we have changed the scoring format to the extent that only three crew need to start in their class to score maximum points (15), two starters 12 points and one starter 10 points. 

The three forestry events are now running before the Tarmac rounds start. We welcome back the Munster Car Club and the Moonraker Forestry Rally to the TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship. This is great news for the forestry and also for the crews who intend competing on both surfaces.

The other news for 2011 is that the Carrick-on-Suir Willie Loughman Forestry Rally will take place on Saturday 5th March. The Start will be at about noon with the later stages in the dark.

The TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship also allows crews to nominate a round for bonus points when points scored are doubled. This round must be declared when registering for the championship. The championship is also unique as it’s the only rally championship which promotes both tarmac and forestry.

This, the opening round, The Sean Conlon Forestry Rally, will be run again from Mitchelstown by the Tipperary Motor Club. With the current climatic conditions (30 Jan.) what are the chance of a rerun of the 2009 snow covered stages. Notwithstanding the Galway International, this will be a barometer of the state of forestry and indeed clubman rallying for the remainder of the year.

An appeal to those who support rallying but are unable to compete is to volunteer early to assist in marshalling, time keeping or whatever your expertise is to the promoting clubs. The craic can still be mighty.

We are constantly updating our web site (work in progress) and There are also links from the promoting clubs and on

We wish you all, our sponsor, clubs, competitors and spectators a successful, enjoyable and safe year in Motorsport. Our sport is under scrutiny more than ever, we just ask you to be ambassadors for our sport.

2011 TRITON SHOWERS South East Stages Rally Championship rounds:

The Sean Conlon Forestry Rally.  Mitchelstown. Tipperary M.C.            13 February.

The Willie Loughman Forestry Rally. Ck-on- Suir. Ck-on-Suir M.C. 05 March.             NOTE Saturday afternoon start with late stages in the dark.

Moonraker Forestry Rally. Lismore. Munster Car Club. 10 April

The Carlow Stages Rally. Carlow. Carlow Car Club. 08 May.

The Ravens Rock Rally. Kilkenny.            Carrick-on-Suir M. C.   24 June.

The Tipperary Stonethrowers Rally. Clonmel. Tipperary M.C. 07August.

Dick Bailey Stages Rally. Wexford.          Wexford M. C. 10/11 Sept.

Regulations and general information from Ann M. Fitzgerald. The Cross, Mooncoin via Waterford. 051 895238                       


Ravens Rock Rally on TG4 Player

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Ravens Rock Rally

The 2011 Ravens Rock Rally is now available to view on the TG4 Player
     Click Here for Part 1 and Click Here for Part 2

Ravens Rock 40th Anniversary Special Prize

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Ravens Rock Rally

To mark the 40th Anniversary of the Ravens Rock Rock Rally the club offered the special prize of €400 being refunded to the 40th finisher on the Official Results.

And the Winner is: John Kelly


Honda Award Winners

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Ravens Rock Rally

1st Prize: €500 - James Bradley

2nd Prize:€300 - James Fitzgerald

3rd Prize: €200 - Thomas Kelly


2011 Ravens Rock Rally: Event Review

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Ravens Rock Rally

BREEN ROCKS IN KILKENNY AS MURPHY TAKES MAXIMUM DUNLOP POINTS - Report Courtesy of Dunlop Proud Sponsors of the Dunlop National Rally Championship 2011

LEADING from start to finish, Waterford’s, Craig Breen (Ford Fiesta S2000) and his Welsh co-driver, Gareth Roberts, took a convincing victory in the Suirway Farm Machinery Raven’s Rock Rally, the fifth round of the Dunlop National Rally Championship.

At the end of the Kilkenny based event, Breen/RobertsBreen were a minute and 45 seconds ahead of Colm Murphy/Don Montgomery (Subaru), who took the maximum twenty points in the Dunlop series. Third place went to Monaghan’s, Sam Moffett/James O’Reilly (Mitsubishi) were 17 seconds further behind, they move into second in the Dunlop series – 26 points behind series leader, Tim McNulty, who was amongst the non-starters. Despite several problems, Washington James/Lllinos Jones Davies won the Modified category. Stephen Carey/Breda O’Driscoll (Honda Civic) won the Group N award.

On the opening stage, Kells, Breen set the pace and opened up a 19 second advantage over both Colm Murphy (Subaru) and Seb Ling (Mitsubishi). Murphy lost time when he clipped a stone and the wheel deflated, luckily, he was near the stage finish. Meanwhile, Ed O’Callaghan (Ford Escort) was a further three seconds in arrears in fourth place. Late entry, Sam Moffett (Mitsubishi), Frank Kelly (Escort) and Shane Maguire (Subaru) were next in classification.

Breen was also quickest through the remaining two stages of the loop to lead the Mitsubishi of Seb Ling by 47 seconds at the Chancellor’s Mills service halt. Breen remarked,
“The stages are very fast, stage three in particular, I was probably a little too conservative with my tyre choice, the compound I selected was too soft.”

Ed O’Callaghan crashed his Escort near the finish of the third stage, earlier, on S.S. 2, Paul Mulcahy (Toyota Starlet), who was ninth overall after the first stage, also crashed out.

Ling had a good run through the second stage while Murphy clipped a bank. Eoin Doyle (Subaru), who was fourth overall, had an overshoot on the second stage while he was concerned by a transmission glitch on the third test. Moffett was fifth. Washington James (Darrian) traversed most of the loop with a warped brake disc. John McQuaid (Escort) held seventh. Roy White, on his first rally in some three years, occupied eighth in his MG S2000, he opined that his pace increased as the rally progressed, he did experience some brake fade on the third stage. Paddy O’Dwyer (Vauxhall Nova) and Lloyd Hutchinson (Mini), who completed the top ten, were both untroubled. However, Shane Maguire (Subaru) lost some six minutes on S.S. 3 with transmission woes and he retired at the service halt.

On the repeat loop, Breen continued to dominate and with three more fastest times, he arrived at the final service halt with a lead of a minute and 28 seconds over second placed, Colm Murphy (Subaru). The rally leader, who spun on S.S. 4, admitted that he had slackened his pace. Murphy was 15 seconds ahead of third placed Moffett, both enjoyed untroubled runs through the second loop. Doyle was similarly trouble free – albeit some four second behind Moffett.

Seb Ling’s rally ended when he crashed on S.S. 4 and David Condell put his Escort off the road on S.S. 5. Meanwhile, Frank Kelly (Escort) occupied fifth from Roy White, who reckoned his MG S2000 was down on power, particularly on S.S. 6 as it continued to misfire.

Washington James (Darrian) had to contend with an oil leak through the entire loop. The top ten also featured the Escort trio of John McQuaid, Sam Smyth and Hereford’s, Jay Stanley. Smyth reckoned that his Escort was handling a little errantly while he also endured a few minor overshoots. Shay Power retired his Escort on S.S. 4 when the throttle cable snapped, ironically, a short distance from his home.

Elsewhere, Neil Williams (Escort) lost time when one of the spark plugs failed near the finish of S.S. 6 while Joe Connolly, also in an Escort, experienced a soft brake pedal on the same stage.

Breen went on to take victory and complete a notable family double as winner of the event. His father, Ray, a former Dunlop National Rally champion, won the rally in 2005 and 2008. As Breen did not register, Murphy took maximum points in the Dunlop series while third placed Moffett took second placed points to move into second in the Dunlop series – 26 points behind the series leader, Tim McNulty.

James was the highest placed in the Modified category while fifth placed Eoin Doyle (Subaru) overshot and stalled on the final stage. Sixth placed Frank Kelly (Escort) reckoned he couldn’t have driven any harder. Roy White in seventh, finished with a damaged air filter.

The Dunlop “Drive of the Day” award was annexed by Monaghan’s, John McQuaid (Ford Escort), who was co-driven by Kerry’s, Seamus O’Connor. The final places in the top ten were claimed by Sam Smyth (Escort) and Lloyd Hutchinson).

For various reasons, Dunlop series leader, Tim McNulty (Subaru WRC), Niall Maguire, Kevin Barrett and Darren Gass, all in Subaru WRC’s, Liam McCarthy (Toyota Corolla WRC) and Wesley Patterson (Ford Escort) withdrew their entries.


Results for Ravens Rock Stages Rally, 2011

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Ravens Rock Results: Final Results by Class

Ravens Rock Results: Stage Times by Class

Results for Ravens Rock Stages Rally, 2011 - external link

See Live results directly on our website  

Late Entries/Withdrawals

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Ravens Rock Rally

Late Entries/Withdrawals Click Here

Liam McCarthy will sadly not be taking part this weekend as his Mother passed away early this morning. COC John Rafter and the Carrick on Suir Motor Club would like to offer their deepest Sympathy’s to Liam.


Ravens Rock Rally Signifies Mid-Point of the Season for the 2011 Dunlop National Rally Championship

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Ravens Rock Rally

DunlopAs the Dunlop National Rally Championship reaches its mid-point in Kilkenny with the Raven’s Rock Rally, series leader, Tim McNulty and co-driver, Paul Kiely, are chasing their fifth successive victory in the series that will be decided on the best seven scores from the ten counting rounds. At present, McNulty is 28 points ahead of Robert Barrable MCNULTY2with Liam McCarthy a further four points behind in third place. Series regulars, Niall Maguire and Kevin Barrett along with Colm Murphy, who missed the last round in Cavan, will endeavour to give McNulty a tough battle around the roads of County Kilkenny.

Read More Here


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