O’Connor the Citroen Racing Trophy Ireland Champion as Daly Wins Final C2 Round!
October 10, 2012 by Andrew Bushe
The final round of the Citroen Racing Trophy Ireland 2012 took place on the weekend’s Cork 20 International Rally. Four C2 R2 Max’s lined up for what would be the swansong of the little 1600 pocket rockets after six amazing seasons of C2 action.
This year’s title favourite Kevin O’Connor needed a finish in Cork to secure the Trophy, with David Carney the only title threat. Kieran Daly and Steve Wood were the other two C2 R2 Max equipped starters.
For Westport driver David Carney, all he could try to do was to try and win, and see that happened to O’Connor over the weekend. That’s certainly what he did, setting a superb sixth fastest overall time on stage one. “We had a very good start” commented David. “Stage one went very well and we had a very good time. It was all we could do, and hope that we would force Kevin into a battle. We weren’t as fast on stage two, as we backed off a little when we passed Kevin at the side of the road.” For Kevin it was a somewhat nervous start, as he knew all he really needed to do was finish, and the title was his, but on stage two the C2 began cutting out badly, and he dropped four minutes. “It took us a while to locate the problem, which was a throttle body plug that had worked loose. I had checked it when we initially stopped, but hadn’t checked it right. Thankfully we got going again though” commented Kevin. Really getting going now was Cork’s Kieran Daly, in his Healy Motorsport car. He proclaimed to be a bit rusty after a lay-off since Donegal, but on stage two set fastest C2 time, and clipped another four seconds back on stage three, but was still 22 seconds back after Carney’s stormer on stage one, but he was still happy.” It wasn’t the fastest of mornings, and I think David might have backed off when he saw Kevin in trouble, but for me I was getting more and more comfortable in the car again, and really it was the final few stages of the rally that I really started to feel comfortable and commit properly on the fast stuff.” Steve Wood had a dodgy intercom to deal with on stage one, but the Welsh drivers times were significantly closer than they ever have been to the leaders, and he was 36 seconds behind Daly after three long stages.
The first day dramas would continue however. After stage six, David Carney held an impressive 6th overall in the International Rally, but on the final square corner of stage 7, the long and twisting Kilnamatra test, there was to be drama. “We were coming towards the end of the stage and the tyres were cooked really. I braked for the square corner and the car locked up, and we clipped the bank, breaking the bottom bracket on the radiator, and we started to loose water. We weren’t going to make it through the final test, so we had to re-start on Sunday under the Super Rally rules.” All of a sudden that left Kieran Daly and Keith Moriarty the over-night leaders, with Steve Wood in his best ever position of second, 1 minute 40 seconds behind Daly. Despite not completing the final stage of the day, David Carney’s Super Rally, put him third 19.9 seconds in front of O’Connor into the faster day two stages.
Sunday morning, and it was Kevin O’Connor who set fastest time, almost two seconds in front of Carney, whose only hope now was that the others would strike trouble. Kieran Daly consolidated his lead, which was just under two minutes after the first three stages of the day, as Steve Wood continued his attack. “We are just keeping up the attack, and keeping up the concentration. It’s hard to know what the weather is going to do on this final loop also, so we will take two inters as spares just in case” commented Steve. David Carney had further extended his gap to Kevin O’Connor who was now struggling with a persistent misfire. Indeed the young Limerick driver would have a nerve wrecking final three stages to the finish as the C2 spluttered its way through the final stages, to eventually claim a fourth place finish.
Third was Carney, who claimed second in the CRT Ireland series, which nets him a further €2000, whilst co-driver Ray Fitzpatrick won the co-driver’s championship. David was happy at the end. “We are happy. We tried to get Kevin into a race and see what happened, but when he had his problems, we backed off too to make sure of the finish. Second in the series is good, a first for Ray is good, and another bonus is to win the class and front wheel drive section in the Irish Tarmac Championship. It’s been a good year in the Citroen Racing Trophy, and very enjoyable.” Second for Steve Wood and Jonny Baird marked their best ever finish in the series, and a significant step up in pace also. ”I am really pleased, especially for Jonny, who has taken me under his wing this year. I’m really pleased with that.” For Kieran Daly it was victory on the final round for the C2 R2 Max’s and a fine sixth place overall. Plans for DS3 series are in the pipeline for 2013. “It was fabulous to win, and more special, because it was the last C2 round. Things were feeling really good with the car this evening, and it’s brilliant to end the year on such a high after our lows at the start of the year. I have made a lot of friend’s through competing on the Citroen Trophy over the past couple of years and the prize money too has been a fantastic incentive.”
For Kevin O’Connor guided by Ger Conway in Cork, despite the car hiccups, he is the Citroen Racing Trophy Ireland winner for 2012, receiving an extra €3000 for the win. “I am delighted, and delighted to be here. Those last three stages were terrible, especially the last one. I thought the car was going to stop, but we made it and to win the Trophy is fantastic.” Indeed Kevin has also that €10,000 Junior prize to look forward to on the Rally Du Var in France, in what was a superb climax to the C2 R2’s in the championship, will all four starters finishing this two day International.
For the championship points please check www.citroenracingtrophy.com or type Citroen Racing Trophy into Facebook for more details.
Citroen Racing Trophy Ireland Round Six- Positions
1 Kieran Daly/ Keith Moriarty 2hr 22m 24.5s
2 Steve Wood/ Johnny Baird +2m 10.8s
3 David Carney/ Ray Fitzpatrick +3m 59.1s
4 Kevin O’Connor/ Gerard Conway +5m 29.3s