MacHales set the pace at Safety Direct Galway International Rally

Gareth McHale on his way to victory

Gareth McHale on his way to victory

The 2010 Safety Direct Galway International Rally proved a successful outing for the famed McHale family.

Gareth MacHale capped off a faultless weekend by taking this year’s title, while Aaron MacHale finished third to give the MacHale family two podium finishes.

Gareth MacHale’s consistently quick times proved the winner as he held off the 20-years-old pretender Craig Breen, who set some astonishing times in the new Ford Fiesta S2000, while Aaron McHale, who went into the last stage trailing Alastair Fisher by nine seconds, produced a strong charge that saw him take a whopping 15 seconds from Fisher to beat the young Fermanagh man by just six seconds. Kevin Barrett produced a good showing to finish fifth.

Frost and fog greeted the competitors on Saturday’s opening day when British Rally champion, Keith Cronin, took the first stage. However his rally ended on stage two when his Lancer left the road, but he returned to action on the Sunday run, and set some stage-winning times.

Cronin was not the only high profile name to retire early on Saturday morning. Fellow Mitsubishi drivers Jonny Greer and Gary Jennings also saw their rally end on day one, but like Cronin, both returned to action on Sunday.

However eventual winner Gareth MacHale held the overnight lead with a comfortable cushion of more than a minute from Craig Breen, while Tim McNulty was a further 30 seconds back.

McNulty’s rally ended on stage 13 when his gearbox broke - hard luck for McNulty who was enjoying a good battle with Breen for second place.

Sunday’s stages saw little change in the leader board with most crews happy to keep their cars between the stonewalls, and it was Gareth McHale who drove his Focus WRC back to Oranmore to bag maximum points in the Citroen Irish Tarmac Rally Championship.

With both Craig Breen and Alastair Fisher receiving overall awards, the Group N trophy went to Alan Ring and Adrian Deasy in their Munster Joinery Lancer.

The national rally was a one-horse show all weekend with the young Monaghan duo of Daniel McKenna and Andrew Grennan winning by almost three minutes.

Galway also held the first round of the lucrative Citroen Racing Trophy. Current British C2 champion Marty McCormack was the early leader, but a series of punctures on Sunday handed Dubliner Robert Barrable the win.

In the Fiesta Sporting Trophy, Stephen Wright and Paul McGee never put a wheel wrong all weekend and took a comfortable win. The pair also finished 19th overall to round off a great weekend.

The Historic Rally was won by Galway’s Ray Cunningham, while veteran Martin Ward took the Post Historic prize. Damien Whoriskey took the junior prize.

McHale will now kook to extend his lead in the championship at the next rally, the Circuit of Ireland, which takes place over Easter.


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