Sunday 25 August 2019

Mallow set for high-octane rally action

More than 100 cars set to take part in the 2019 Jim Walsh Cork Forest Rally

Bill Browne

The roar of revving high-powered engines will once again combine with the unmistakeable smell of burning rubber in Mallow for two glorious days of high-octane rally action over the final weekend of July.

For the 10th year in succession the town will be the base for the Cork Motor Club's annual Jim Walsh Cork Forest Rally, with the cackle and pop of exhaust pipes set to reverberate across the greater Mallow area as Ireland's premier gravel rally returns to North Cork. 

This year's rally has all the makings of being another special event following the return last year, after a break of more than a decade, to the original two-day format.

It is now Ireland's only two-day gravel rally, with a bumper field of more than 100 cars. Both days will also count as separate rounds of the 2019 Valvoline Forest Rally Championship. 

"As a double-counting round, the Jim Walsh is a great boost to the profile of the championship, one of the most popular motorsport series in the country, and a fantastic opportunity for crews to pick up large amounts of championship points," said Paul Casey of Cork Motor Club.

The organisers of the Cork Forrest Rally have always put the competitor first when it comes to planning routes, and 2019 is certainly no different. Very few events nationally can compete with the compact and centralised hub of locations used, all within a tight radius of Mallow.

Rally HQ is once again based in the Hibernian Hotel, with scrutiny taking place at Ears Motorsport in the Quartertown Business Park. Parc Ferme for the whole weekend, as well as documentation and briefing, will take place in the Cork County Council Annabella complex.

The route that Paul Casey has laid out totals 150km of competitive mileage over 14 action-packed stages.

The action will kick off on Saturday, July 27, with the first crews - the Junior 1000 machines driven by some of the youngest crews in Irish Rallying - leaving Mallow at 10am and taking on six stages to the west of the town. 

These will include the fearsome Boggeragh Drive stage, which this year has been stretched to 18.5km, making it longest gravel stage used anywhere in the 2019 Irish Forest Championship.  

The first crew will be on the road from 7.30am on Sunday, heading to the service halt at Mallow Autograss at Ballyguyroe in the heart of the Ballyhoura Mountains. 

The cars will take on eight high-speed tests over an 80km route that will include a mix of traditional forest lanes and sweeping modern roads through the Castlepook and Knocknatallig Wind Farm complexes.

Paul said the fact that the Rally had returned to Mallow each year since 2010 was "no accident or coincidence", citing the support it had consistently received from local bushiness and the wider community. 

For the fifth straight year the Rally's main sponsor is Mallow firm Craft Fitted Kitchens, with Kanturk-based J&M Distributors coming on board again as associate sponsors.   

"The Club also relies heavily on other businesses for logistical support in the running of the event, and these all deserve special thanks. Bringing over 100 crews to a region can have its headaches, but the willingness of these organisations to help out makes sure the event runs smoothly," said Paul. 

"The support received from local business right across a large spectrum is testament to the quality of the event, as firms can see real benefit in being associated with the Jim Walsh Cork Forest Rally, while the rally in return brings a huge economic boost to the region," he said.

For more information about the Rally visit or the Jim Walsh Cork Forest page on Facebook.