Pastures New for 2012 Wm. Loughman Memorial Forest Rally

Sunday, 22 January 2012 21:51

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Wm. Loughman Forestry Rally

2012 Event PreviewWillieLoughman2012
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Innovation was the outstanding feature last years Willie Loughman Memorial Forest Rally as the Carrick on Suir Motor Club introduced an all-inclusive one day rally which included both scrutiny for the competing cars and was followed then by evening and night stages. The club continues with this successful format for the 2012 event which will take place on Saturday the 3rd of March. The highlight for both competitors and spectators on this year’s event comes by way of a mouth-watering 25 Km stage, the longest in the National Forestry Championship this season for the competitors in the Gurteen Forest Complex and for the passionate rallyfans in the South East the event moves to pastures new as the rally revisits the Village of Portlaw as the famous stages of Towerhill  and Bealough make a welcome return after a long absence.

The rally is again centralised in Carrick on Suir as the Carrick Motor Club continues its successful partnership with co-sponsors the Carraig Hotel and Suirway Forklifts. As the one-day format from last is continued the Carraig will act as rally HQ for paper scrutiny/documentation and prizegiving but the main hub of the event will be in the Mill River Business Park which contains mechanical scrutiny and the service area. The one day all inclusive rally format will see competitors arrive in the morning to get their respective cars checked, then the main event is set to begin with the first stage scheduled for 15.00hrs.

That initial special stage is very ‘special’ indeed as the rally gets underway in the Gurteen Forest Complex near Kilsheelan and it’s a monster this year as the full Gurteen Complex will be run as a complete test on the opening loop in daylight and will then be tackled again as the second loop starts at 19.00 hrs. Clerk of the course, Barry Duggan expands on his plans and stage selection for 2012, “This year’s event will be effectively broken into two locations, with stage one and four being based in Gurteen and special stages two and three on the first loop and then stages five and six on the second loop in Portlaw. First Gurteen, The huge complex has formed the backbone of our event for main years and being so large we always decided to split the forest into two separate stages. This year I wanted to try something different and after toying with the idea, I’m now delighted to announce that this year ‘Gurteen’ will be run as a complete 25 km stage, making it the longest in the National Forestry Championship. It will give the crews a baptism of fire as the rally opener and then the rerun in darkness will pose an even sterner test.”

Barry also explains his decision to move to new pastures for this year’s rally, “From both the organisers and competitor’s perspective going back repeatedly to the same areas can get very mundane. In the interest of giving the rally a fresh look we decided to move to new ground, together with the land owner, the local Forester and Coillte, the Motor Club has come to an agreement on using the region and I'm delighted to be back in Portlaw for the famous Towerhill and Bealough stages. It's always good to source new terrain and I'm sure the change will be welcomed by the crews and fans alike.”   

Taking place on the first Saturday in March the Willie Loughman again forms an integral part of the Valvoline National Forestry Championship and fits in this year as the second round. The rally also forms round two of the competitive Triton Showers South East Stages Rally Championship regional series. Carrick Motor Club members took a clean sweep in 2011 with Shay Power and John Rafter crowned champions, Shay’s Brother-in-law, Alan Commins with his son James calling the notes took second place. James Coleman, partnered by Michael Haley picking up third place on the podium with the championship going all the way to the wire on the final round in Wexford. Both championships play a vital role in attracting crews to the event.