Good Evans — Melvyn shows the way on Mayo Stages Rally

Motorsport

On the road to victory: Melvyn Evans on the road to winning the Mayo Stages Rally.

On the road to victory: Melvyn Evans on the road to winning the Mayo Stages Rally.

Melvyn Evans and Patrick Walsh stormed to victory on the 2010 McWilliam Hotel Mayo Stages Rally to become only the second overseas winners of the event in its 34 year history. The Welshmen proved that lack of local knowledge was no obstacle to success, as they set a string of impressive stage times on what was their first appearance in Mayo. It was their second National Rally Championship victory in the space of two weeks.

Second in a similar Subaru World Rally Car were Kevin Barrett and Sean Mulally. The Kildare driver put in a strong fight all day but crucially was unable to match Evans’ pace on the opening Woodstock stage, the Welshman was fastest on each of the three runs, opening a decisive 18 second advantage on the final test after Barrett had earlier closed the gap to just one second.

Third after an eventful day were Craig Breen and Dai Roberts. The young Kilkenny man and his Welsh co-driver had been tipped by many as an outside bet for victory in his Ford Fiesta S2000 after finishing second on the Galway International Rally last month. However despite expecting the Mayo Stages to suit his car he admitted that he found the pace faster than he was expecting.

Monaghan’s Niall Maguire and Enda Sherry finished in a relatively subdued fourth place ahead of the leading rear wheel drive car, the Escort of Donegal’s Declan and Brian Boyle. Two other Escorts were in sixth and seventh, those of Damien Gallagher/Paul Garry also from Donegal, and Camillus Bradley and Crawford from Derry. The latter crew also collected the HASS Border Championship Drive of the Day Award as the fastest class 14 crew on special stage four to finish the rally.

The top 10 were rounded out by Sean Flanagan and Brian Miller from Meath who claimed the Group N award in their Subaru Impreza, and another brace of Escorts from Donegal, those of Victor Hunter/Michael Doherty and Eugene Ferry/Derek Heena.

It proved a rally of attrition with 85 crews from the starting list of 135 failing to make it back to rally headquarters. Among the big name retirements were number one seeds Aaron MacHale and Dermot Falvey who were unable to continue due to fly-by-wire throttle problems. Accidents afflicted many, including Derek McGarrity and James McKee who crashed on the first test causing a temporary stage blockage. The Escorts of Daniel McKenna/Andrew Grennan and Manus Kelly/Donal Barrett and the Toyota Starlet of Maurice Moffett/Derek McGarrity were other leading runners who succumbed to off-road excursions of various descriptions over the demanding nine stage route.

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