Posted: April 29, 2023 in Uncategorized

Kelly/Mohan win JWRC Croatia

Monaghan co-driver Conor Mohan guided Donegal’s Eamonn Kelly to victory in the second round of the FIA Junior WRC, Rally Croatia.

It was an emotional event for the competing crews, as they took to the stages in memory of Craig Breen, who died during a pre-event test for the rally. Breen’s Hyundai team donned a special tricolour livery for the event, with other cars having their own tributes to the Waterford driver.

Sweden winner William Creighton was the early pace-setter in the JWRC, and finished the opening day with a slim nine second advantage. Kelly/Mohan were fifth in the ever-competitive one-make series. A string of second and third fastest stage times, as well as retirements for Creighton and other competitors meant that Kelly/Mohan climbed to third in the category after Saturday’s run of stages. They were only 30 seconds from the second step on the podium and had a comfortable buffer to the cars behind.

There were just four stages to contest on Sunday, and the drama unfolded from the beginning, long-term leader Laurent Pellier developed engine trouble in his Ford Fiesta Rally3, which saw his advantage fall rapidly before he was forced to retire on the penultimate stage. This would have promoted Belgium’s Tom Rensonnet to the lead if he hadn’t developed issues of his own and dropped a minute on the second to last stage. This left Kelly/Mohan in the lead with just one stage remaining, and a 31 second lead over Rensonnet. As they had done for the entire weekend up to that point, the pair kept their nose clean on the final stage to take a historic victory on the world stage.

Speaking at the stage end, Kelly said it was a special result after a difficult period for the Irish rallying community.

“It’s been a mad week and weekend and I just can’t believe it. It is the stuff that dreams are made of. You grow up watching all that’s going on and never thought I’d be part of something like this,” he said.

“It’s been an emotional week for everyone Irish as well so there’s no question about who you could dedicate this win to. There was a man up there in the sky shining down on us and this win is for him.”

In the JWRC points are awarded for fastest stage times, and this allowed William Creighton to extend his championship lead despite reentering the rally after his Saturday morning roll. Kelly and Mohan’s win places them sixth in the championship, just four points off second place.

The next round of the JWRC, Rally Italia Sardegna, takes place on 1 June.

In the main WRC field, Elfyn Evans and Scott Martin took the victory, with Ott Tanak second and Esapekka Lappi third in his tricolour Hyundai. Thierry Neuville took the powerstage victory after crashing out of the lead on Saturday. Evans dedicated his victory to Breen. The Irish national anthem was played and tricolours draped over the winning car in a subdued podium.

Mackarel masters Mayo

Closer to home, Derek Mackarel took victory in the Mayo Motorclub loose surface autocross on Sunday. Each competitor was allowed three timed runs and in a competitive field, his best run in his Mitsubishi Evo was over four seconds faster than his nearest rival. On the day, Derek was also presented with the trophy for winning the 2022 championship in Mayo


Comments are closed.