Fire Ends Kenmare co-driver’s Australian title bid
Murish O’Connell lost out on the chance to claim the Western Australian Clubman’s Rally Championship title in dramatic fashion on Saturday.
However, he did secure the rookie championship in his first season as a rally co-driver.
O’Connell contested the Safari Darling Rally in Jarrahdale, about 45km south-east of Perth alongside Glenn Cawood.
The Irish/Zimbabwean team entered the final round of the championship as favourites. A top eight result on Saturday would have been enough to secure the title.
They were lying third overall after the opening two tests.
Shortly after the start of stage three their Mitsubishi Lancer glanced a tree and forced them off the road. The hot exhaust against the dry bush foliage started a small fire which ended their rally and title aspirations.
Lucky for them they were close to the stage start and the rally officials saw the drama unfold and immediately despatched the rescue crews into the stage.
Fellow competitors Bruce Lake and David Moir (Datsun 240Z) and Michael Connor and Scott Medhurst (Hyundai Excel) also stopped at the scene and provided additional fire extinguishers. Cawood and O’Connell were unhurt in the incident and everyone’s efforts saved the car.
“Not the way we wanted to finish our season, but we’ll give it another crack next year,” he said. “Thanks to all the fireys, marshals, and organisers who assisted.”
It was not a complete disaster, they still finished second in the Championship and O’Connell is the Western Australian rookie co-driving champion for 2020.