Donegal cousins Declan and Brian Boyle took their first ever international win in the Colm Quinn BMW Galway International Rally.
The pair led for most of the 14 tough stages run over two days, which was also the opening round of the Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Rally Championship
Driving a Subaru Impreza WRC, the cousins eventually won by 25.5 seconds from Garry Jennings/Rory Kennedy in a similar car. Jennings, who is the reigning tarmac champion, put considerable pressure on Boyle until an off-road excursion on the eighth stage left him with too much to do. Donagh Kelly/Kevin Flanagan in a Focus WRC eventually pipped Sam Moffett/ ames O’Reilly for third place by just three seconds.
Despite everything the weather threw at them, organisers, the Galway Motor Club, performed something of a miracle to ensure little disruption to the crews for the event. Both locations near Ardrahan and Kinvara had to be severely curtailed due to flooding, but no stage was completely cancelled.
It had not looked promising on the Saturday morning in Gort with ferocious rain, hail showers and strong winds testing the hardiest souls, but the rally ran on schedule with six stages completed.
On the first day it was clear the eventual winner would come from one of the trio of Boyle, Jennings, and multiple tarmac champion Eugene Donnelly, who was out in a Mini WRC. Seconds were swapped over the six stages and it was Boyle who led by just four seconds from Jennings overnight, with Donnelly a further seven seconds back. The top six were only separated by one minute with Kelly in fourth, Moffett fifth, and English visitor Steve Simpson in sixth.
The second day included the Black Road stage near Loughrea which had seen the end of many challengers in previous years, and this time it was Eugene Donnelly’s turn when he crashed out on the latter part of the test.
Jennings turned up the heat on Boyle through the Black Road and Lough Cutra to bring the lead down to just 0.2 seconds, but on the Bradys Yard stage near Craughwell he hit a flood and put the car into a field, costing him 40 seconds and dropping him back to fourth. A storming time over the second run of the Black Road saw Jennings take 13 seconds from Boyle and move back into second place.
However Boyle did not falter. He held his nerve to take his maiden • Continued on Page 78
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international win, followed by Jennings, Kelly, Sam Moffett, and Josh Moffett in fifth place. Steve Simpson had been fifth, but went off the road on Lough Cutra losing time and eventually retiring.
Best Galway crew - Pat and Jonathan Kelly
In the national section of the rally Peadar Hurson set the pace on the first day in his Escort WRC with some superb times before mechanical problems forced him to retire on the day’s penultimate stage. This left Declan Gallagher in his Toyota Starlet in the lead and he simply pulverised the opposition
with some incredible driving to win the category by over two minutes from the Escort of Wesley Patterson. Pat and Jonathon Kelly in their Subaru Impreza STI came home in third place and their reward was the Brian Thornton Trophy for best Galway crew. It was a war of attrition in the modifieds as fancied runners such as Ed O’Callaghan, Pat Donegan and Brian Brogan were all forced to retire from the event.
Ray Cunningham had a brilliant drive in his Mini to take the overall honours in the Historic Rally, winning by almost a minute from Ross Forde in his Ford Escort Mk2, with John Reid in another Escort in third place. Frank Cunningham, in a Porsche, and Bryan Brophy, in a Hillman Imp, were among those who retired during the event.
In the junior category Paul Creamer and Danny McCloskey led from start to finish in their Honda Civic to take victory from Sean Brady and Barry McLoughlin in a similar car. Niall O’Sullivan and Patrick Horan were third overall in a Citroen C2.