The Willie Loughman Forest Rally got the Irish motor racing season underway attracting 80 motor racing crews from all over the country and as far a field as Scotland and the US.
The rally, hosted by Carrick-on-Suir Motor Club, was the opening round of the Valvoline Irish Forest Rally Championship.
Its stages took place in Gurteen Forest near Kilsheelan, the Anner Forest near Slievenamon, Clondonnell Wood near Rathgormack and Ahenny Wood near Faugheen throughout Saturday, February 3.
The racing crews left from the Mill River Business Park in Carrick-on-Suir at 11am that day and the final stages took place after nightfall.
Overall winners after a tough and long day of racing were Andrew Purcell of Slieverue, Co. Kilkenny and his co-driver Mark Wiley from Mitchelstown, who competed in a Ford Fiesta R5.
They finished 19 seconds ahead of the similar car of Monaghan’s Barry McKenna/Leon Jordan.
Cavan’s Stephen McCann (Fiesta S2000) and co-driver Kaine Treanor finished third – a minute and 37.1 seconds further behind.
Carrick on Suir’s James Dunphy (Toyota Corolla) and his co-driver Shane Gazely won Class 11R on the first outing in a car that was built over six years.
World Rally Championship ace, Citroen’s Craig Breen, drove a Ford Escort belonging to James Coleman as one of the sweeper cars. A total of 59 cars were classified as rally finishers.
Carrick-on-Suir Motor Club Chairman James Coleman said about 400 competitors took part in the rally and they and rally spectators spent thousands of euros in the local economy during their visit to the Carrick-on-Suir area
"There wasn't a guest room to be got between Clonmel and Waterford," he said.