After an excellent drive all weekend, Donegal cousins Declan & Brian Boyle have become the first all Donegal crew to win their home event since Vincent Bonner & Seamus McGettigan achieved the same feat back in 1983. With James Cullen (twice) being the only other previous home winner, Declan has joined a very exclusive club and his position at the top of the leader board of the Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Championship looks even more secure with just two rounds to go. The winning margin in the end over Monaghans Sam Moffett & James O’Reilly was 34.8 seconds but it was not without its scares along the way. Garry Jennings and Rory Kennedy had to be content with third having never really got to grips with the pace of the leading pair over the weekend, while another former Tarmac Champion, Derek McGarrity was fourth overall.
Over 130 crews started the Donegal International Rally the fourth round of the Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Rally Championship and despite the withdrawal of Eugene Donnelly there was still a very strong field assembled. Boyle was the favourite having been the quickest man in the championship so far despite a non-finish in Killarney. The winner of that event and also last year’s Donegal was Sam Moffett and he led after the first three stages albeit by only 1.6 seconds from Boyle. Jennings was back in third with Darren Gass (2012 Tarmac Champion) in fourth and Donagh Kelly in fifth. Moffett lost the lead with a puncture but still held onto second behind Boyle at the end of the first day. Gass moved ahead of Jennings to fourth with Kelly and McGarrity in fifth and sixth. Pat Kirk held a slender advantage over Josh Moffett in Group as they held seventh and eighth respectively overnight.
The longest part of the rally was the 8 stage second day and by the time the opening pair of stages (Garrygort and Knockalla) were completed the lead had stretched out to 8.4 seconds on Boyles favour as the rest of the pack struggled to keep pace, particularly Kelly who lost some time with clutch problems. The same pair of stages ran again as SS9 and SS10 and Boyle extended the lead to 12.6 second as Gass began to set some very fast times in the hired Melvyn Evans Subaru. Kelly was still in clutch bothers while Jennings was still struggling to get near the pace of the leading trio and Derek McGarrity was now a long way back in sixth. The afternoon stages saw Boyle continue to extend his lead and by overnight it was up to 37.2 seconds from Moffett, but Darren Gass had crashed and lost several minutes (he later withdrew overnight). This moved Jennings into a safe third place as Donagh Kelly had also retired having slid off the road, but his chances of winning Donegal like he did in 2012 were fast receding.
The third day contained six stages which were the classic Glen, Atlantic Drive and Fanad stages all repeated. Moffett needed to make an early statement and his Fiesta WRC was only 26.5 second behind with four stages left. Boyle was a little bit cautious as his engine had shown signs of problems but by the end of Fanad had pushed the lead out to just over 30 seconds. He made no mistakes over the final three stages to come home with a 34.8 second advantage after three tough days of action. Jennings too third place over three minutes further back after a small fire caused them some concern. Derek McGarrity came home in fourth place while Josh Moffett took fifth overall and the Group N honours after another outstanding drive. Josh Moffett had a comfortable margin back to Stephen McCann in sixth place but McCann still holds a narrow advantage with two rounds to go. Aaron McHale came home in seventh and took third place points in the category.
Tarmac Championship Provisional Points after 4 rounds – 1st Boyle 79, 2nd S. Moffett 50, 3rd J. Moffett 42.5, 4th Jennings 38, 5th Kelly 33
In the Modified Championship Declan Gallagher still leads despite being forced out with mechanical problems after only four stages of his home event. Third place in the national section behind Gary McPhillips and Conor Harvey saw Frank Kelly take maximum points and move into third place overall in the championship behind Wesley Patterson who closed the gap to just ten points behind Gallagher. Brian Brogan had an excellent drive to come home fourth overall in the National section and second in the points.
Modified Championship Provisional Points after 5 Rounds – 1st Gallagher 57, 2nd Patterson 47, 3rd Kelly 27
The Historic Rally saw Seamus O’Connell win the category but the big winners were Aidan O’Connor (Escort Mk1) and Andy Johnson (Chevette HSR) who moved up to third and fifth overall in the championship.
Historic Championship Provisional Points after 5 Rounds – 1st Moynihan 33, 2nd Cunningham 30, 3rd O’Connor 24
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