Barry McNulty was crowned Irish Forestry Rally Champion after navigating Cathan McCourt to fourth place on the Jim Walsh Cork Forestry Rally.

The pair had built up a championship lead over the preceding rounds and went to Cork in search of a solid points finish that would seal the title ahead of the final round of the series, Enniskillen Motor Club’s Lakeland Stages.

Michael Carbin was their nearest challenger and he was their main target over the two days.

“We went down knowing that we could do it, but at the same time we knew that if Mickey had a good run we would have to go to the Lakeland and get one or two points,” said Barry.

“We knew we had to finish in the top three and Mickey to finish outside the top six both days, and that was enough to secure it. With the quality of the entry, there was eight or nine R5 cars and three World cars, and Mickey is in a Group A Evo and we knew that maybe the quality of the car rather than the quality of the driver was going to make the difference.”

Cathan and Barry set about maintaining a consistent pace, ignoring Sam Moffatt and Barry McKenna at the top of the timesheets in a bid to take third placed points.

“We were quite happy with the pace,” revealed Barry. “We put in a couple of fastest times to make sure we stayed ahead of Donagh Kelly and stay in the third placed points. We had two fastest times and three second fastest times but it was enough.

“We knew at all times that we couldn’t afford to go off the road, or we would have had to go to the Lakeland with championship pressure.

“We really want to go to the Lakeland now and try to get the win because I have never won it.”

Barry and Cathan had to overcome an uncertain start to their season, but back to back rally wins in the middle of the season set the platform for their success.

“The first round didn’t go to plan because we had an off on the first stage and we had to fight back from 14th to sixth,” recalled Barry.

“The second round was a mess with the snow in Limerick and we only got eighth place points, but then we got the two wins in a row on rounds three and four that really helped us. When Barry didn’t appear at the Moonraker Rally we knew that we had it if we kept finishing.”

Having now secured the Irish title, Barry and Cathan have big hopes for the remainder of the year and beyond.

“Cathan had a very clear plan about what he wanted to do this year, which was win the championship and get some more tarmac experience for next year,” said Barry.

“We are going to do the Lakeland in the R5 car. Hopefully we plan to do Rally Spain but that is all budget permitting, and then we are going to do Killarney Historic in the Mk2 BDA car. We finished fourth there last year and would like to go back and give it a bit of a rattle.”