O’Brien Wins Bushwhacker Rally to Clinch Title

For Patrick & Stephen O’Brien, the 2022 Omagh Motorclub run Bushwhacker Rally is sure to live long in the memory as a back-to-back victory on the ultra-high-speed Northern gravel extravaganza secured the 2022 Motorsport Ireland Forest Rally Championship title for the local stars.

Expecting a battle, be it from closest championship rivals Jordan Hone & Lorcan Moore or from the countless quick crews that led away a bumper entry, O’Brien’s closest challenge came from 2019 Forest Rally champions Cathan McCourt & Liam Moynihan.

While the pair would be locked in a dramatic tussle right to the very end, the early pace was being set by Dessie Henry & Paddy Robinson, the pair fresh from some incredible performances in recent weeks raced into the lead after stage 1, and would go fastest again on the second test. Mishaps throughout the day would halt their charge though, eventually finishing in Fourth place.

While Dessie may have been disappointed to have missed out on the podium, he was unable to reel in a determined Jason Mitchell & Paddy McCrudden who would end the day just 18.5 seconds off the win, but the talk of the Finish Area was the McCourt vs O’Brien battle. After ten blistering stages, the Skoda Fabia R5 of Patrick O’Brien would finish just 2.5 seconds ahead of Cathan McCourt’s Ford Fiesta Rally2.

For nearest championship rival Jordan Hone it was a disappointing day, with the pace of the leading crews from the very start catching him out. In the end, 6th place on the Bushwhacker might seem like scant reward for a fine season, but 2nd place in the Motorsport Ireland Forest Rally Championship is an incredible achievement, and a massive foundation to build upon into the 2023 series.

In the 2WD section of the event, Alan Smyth & Gary McCrudden showed incredible commitment on the lightning fast stages, and came home to the Omagh Showgrounds finish ramp with a 14.3 second advantage over Adrian Hetherington & Gary Nolan, with Donall Sweeney & Ashley Trimble an impressive third in their Historic spec Ford Escort.

1st: Patrick O’Brien/Stephen O’Brien (Skoda Fabia R5)
2nd: Cathan McCourt/Liam Moynihan (Ford Fiesta Rally2) +2.5
3rd: Jason Mitchell/Paddy McCrudden (Ford Fiesta Rally2) +18.5

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