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Mackarel & Curran win Carrick Forest Rally

Controlled, calm and quick were words used by Derek Mackarel to describe his day as he stood alongside navigator Darren Curren taking in the plaudits having claimed a maiden victory on the Carrick-on-Suir Motor Club’s Willie Loughman Forest Rally, the second round of the 2024 Sligo Pallets Forest Rally Championship.


For the Monaghan youngster, the day had started perfectly with a fastest time across the opening Derrylackey stage, and it was a lead that would continue to grow throughout the day as Mackarel & Curran would bring their Ford Fiesta R5 home with 20.6 seconds to spare over their closest rivals and now likely Championship adversaries Jordan Hone & Paul Hone.


Starting at number one on the back a great victory on the opening round in Killarney, the Hone’s day hit bother on the opener, a spin in a tight part of the  first stage and a tricky job getting their Fiesta pointed in the right direction saw them loose 25 seconds to the leader, and the day very quickly became one of recovery and on a dramatic final stage the pair would pip Stevi McCann & John McCabe to claim second and retain the Championship lead.


For McCann & McCabe, their day started with a fifth fastest time on the opener, but by the end of the morning loop they held second but knew that there would be massive pressure from the Hones. Indeed, it would be on the final stage that they would drop to third, losing out by just 0.2 seconds but securing a M-Sport Ford Fiesta R5 Podium lockout, with Gareth Mimnagh & Barry McCarney and David Condell & Michael Coady locking a Ford top five!


In the 2WD battle, it was a real ding dong battle. Hugh McQuade & Declan Casey grabbed the lead at the end of the second stage, but their day would end early with a retirement on the next test. That would return the lead to Shane McGirr & Denver Rafferty who had gone quickest on the opener, and they would return to the Rhu Glenn Hotel as winners for a second round in a row.


Second to the flying Lada was the Motorsport Ireland Academy backed Ford Fiesta Rally4 of Ryan McHugh & Arthur Kierans, the pair setting a remarkable pace that included a fastest stage time on the high-speed White Mountain stage, the longest of the event, in what is remarkably only the third Gravel event the youngster has competed on. Third place would go to Micky Conlon and James McEneaney, their Ford Escort hampered by mechanical issues but they still leave with a strong haul of Championship points.


The Sligo Pallets Drive of the Day was won by Jack Harris and Aaron O’Regan. They had a terrible start to the day with a turbo pipe blowing off in their Ford Fiesta R2T on the opening stage meaning an early return to service, but with the issues rectified they secured the fastest time in class 2A on the Mount Brandon stage to claim the prize.


In the J1000 battle, it was a real marker laid down by Oisin McShane and Fabian McShane as the pair claimed victory on only their second ever rally, setting an incredible stage time on the final stage to overturn what was a 10 second deficit into a 2.8 second victory over Ross Ryan & Peter Keohane, with third place going to Tommy Cronin & Derek Butler.


After an incredible days action, the Championship now heads into a summer break, returning on August 11th with Round 3 and the Jim Walsh Cork Forest Rally.

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