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Andrew Purcell took maximum points in the first round of the Hankook Tyres National Forestry Rally Championship, in Ireland.

Based in the north Cork town of Mitchelstown, it was only a short drive into Co. Tipperary for the competitive stages of the Sean Conlon Memorial Tipperary Forestry Rally.

The victorious Andrew Purcell explained that all he expected was to gain some points.  

“Our aim was to come here and get some championship points. It went very well from the start, kept it going and the luck was with us,” he said. “The car went very well and never missed a beat all day. Normally we are the hound chasing the hare, but it was the other way around as Seamus (Moore) was hot on our heels all day. It was hard to know what to do on the last stage, whether to go for it or to settle for championship points. We gave it two or three corners and that was it, we were on it and couldn’t come back from it!”

Despite finishing second, Seamus Moore knew the value of points at the start of the championship.

“We have a new car and we said we would try it out today. We’re happy even though we had a puncture, only for that maybe we could have won. It was a strange day – some stages we took a big lump of time out of him (Purcell) and in the other stages, he did the same to us. It was a good day’s rallying and he drove well.”

Third place Ray Breen was delighted to have completed his first ever Forestry Rally.

“It’s certainly different from anything that I am used to before, but close to the end, our times were about a second and a half a kilometre off the national pace so we were happy with that. Especially as it is my son Craig’s first time as navigator.”

The Junior National Rally Championship also kicked off and it turned out to be a 1-2-3 for Honda Civic.  Jason Ryan took top honours with Tadhg O’Sullivan alongside him, from the pairing of Jack Newman and David Coyle.

Newman had been swapping the lead in the earlier stages with Damien McCarthy and Ross Forde.  But Ryan had the edge on Newman, beating him on time in Stages 5, 6, and 7 to ensure that he picked up maximum points in the first round of this eight round championship. It will include 3 more rounds of the Forestry Championship and four tarmac events.

National Forestry Rally Championship Round One  
1. Andrew Purcell and Michael Courtney (Subaru Impreza WRC) 57mins 22secs. 

2. Stephen Moore and Tony McHugh (Ford Focus WRC) 57mins 23secs. 

3. Ray Breen and Craig Breen (Ford Focus WRC) 58mins 51secs.

Junior National Rally Championship Round One
1. Jason Ryan and Tadhg O'Sullivan (Honda Civic) 66mins 45secs. 

2. Jack Newman and David Coyle (Honda Civic) 67mins 32secs. 

3. Peter Wilson and John Kilmurray (Honda Civic) 67mins 42secs.

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