Galway’s JJ Fleming and Robbie Ward produced a great drive to finish second overall in this year’s Mor Oil Galway Summer Rally held in Loughrea on Sunday.
The Galway pair overcame some initial handling problems with the car on stage one to bring their Focus WRC home in 1:08:30 and second overall. They also won the much-coveted Conroy Cup as best Galway Motor Club crew, a cup they last won 10 years ago.
The Galway pair finished more than two minutes behind this year’s winner, a surprised Declan Boyle, who said his only intention in this year’s rally was “ to get used to the new car prior to the National Rally Championship next year”. This was the Donegal driver’s first rally in a Subaru WRC, having sold his Mk2, and he grabbed the title when fellow countyman and long-time leader Donagh Kelly slid his Subaru out of the rally on the ninth and final stage.
The day had started well for Donagh Kelly who moved into an early lead following an overshoot by Thomas Fitzmaurice on SS1. Kelly had held a commanding lead over Boyle throughout the day and was leading by 20 seconds going into the last stage but he slid off on SS9, allowing Boyle to take the lead and carry on to win the rally.
A fantastic drive by Declan and Eoin Gallagher saw them bring their 2lt Starlet home in third place overall.
Local Galway crew Eamon Dervan and Keith Gardiner had been in a ding-dong battle all day in class 13. They persevered and came home fourth overall in 1:10;05 and first in class, ahead of Limerick’s Frank Sweeney on 1:12:52 with Jane Cogan on the notes. The result also allowed Dervan and Gardiner claim the award as “Grp4 Fabrications King of the Mk2”.
Neil Pierce and Enda O’Leary had an early end to their rally, retiring on the second loop of stages. Broken drive shafts also meant an early exit for David Quigley and Des Sherlock in car 24 and Richard and Sarah Whelan in car 23. Chris Armstrong and Tom Clinton retired their Mk2 Rs on the last loop of stages having being in contention for the lead in class 13 all day. As little as six seconds separated them from the class leaders at one point.
Limerick’s Ed Synan had a good day finishing seventh overall in 1:12:07 and winning class 14, two minutes ahead of Vincent O’Shea who had hired Barry Meade’s Mk2 for the weekend.
Willie Cavanagh and Olivia Coen in another Mk2 took the spoils in class 12 and best Birr MC crew, while Declan Gannon and Alan Leonard won class 8 in a Subaru Impreza in 1:15;28 and also claimed the best Limerick MC award.
Stephen Carey and Breda O Driscoll put in a tremendous drive to win class 3 in a Honda Civic in 1:12:32 and finish eighth overall. The pair also picked up an award as best mixed crew for their efforts.
The junior rally was won by Robert Duggan and Noel O’Sullivan in a Honda Civic, finishing on 48:56 and just 13 seconds ahead of local Galway crew Damien and Joseph Boyle in another Honda Civic.
Frank Cunningham took a break from rallying in Europe to return home to try out his newly-built Ford Escort Mk2. He went on to win the Historic Rally in a time of 54:07 with his nephew Aaron Forde on the notes - a fine achievement considering that work on the new car was only completed on the Friday night prior to the rally.
The Mor Oil Galway Summer Rally 2012, organised by the Galway Motor Club, will be broadcast on TG4 at 5:10pm on Sunday September 2.