Local Galway driver Neil Pierce and co-driver Enda O’Leary have recently been crowned Dunlop class 11 National Rally Champions.
A strong finish at the Skibbereen Fastnet Rally was enough to hand the Galway crew the title after a long, hard 10-round series.
It was a season that kicked off back in February with the Nenagh Stages Rally. Fourth in class and 33rd overall was a steady start for Pierce, who drives a Safety Direct- sponsored Honda Civic in the highly competitive class 11.
The second round of the championship brought a disappointing non-finish in Mayo. However the crew bounced back spectacularly to take three straight podium finishes including wins in the Circuit of Munster and Ravens Rock Rallies.
July saw the crew return to Connacht, and the Sligo Stages Rally. A sixth-placed overall was another steady haul, and this was further backed up by a third-placed finish in the Stonethrowers Rally in Tipperary.
Unfortunately disaster struck the crew on their home event, the Mór Oil Galway Summer Rally. A broken driveshaft saw them retire while in a good position. Thankfully, Pierce and O’Leary picked themselves up and regained their confidence in the Donegal Harvest Rally, before cruising to a strong, championship-clinching finish last weekend.
A deservedly delighted Neil Pierce commented: “It’s been a long, hard season, but it’s great to finally clinch the championship. The result in Galway was heart breaking, but the title more than makes up for it.”
Pierce and O’Leary are backed by local Galway Company Safety Direct - Ireland’s leading supplier of health, safety and hygiene products, supplying more than 15,000 products from its shop in the Riverside Commercial Estate on the Tuam road. Safety Direct is also title sponsor of The Safety Direct Galway International Rally, which returns to the city in February 2010.
Pierce and O’Leary will be receiving their trophies at the Dunlop National Rally Championship awards night, which will be held in the Clayton Hotel, Ballybrit on Saturday November 21.