Kiltimagh co-driver John Higgins lost out on success on Sunday’s Kerry Stages Rally by the narrowest of margins, after he and driver Brian O’Mahony finished the eight-stage event in a dead heat with the similar Subaru WRC of Thomas Fitzmaurice and Fionn Foley from Kerry. It was the local crew though who were to claim victory on tie-break rules, after setting a time one second faster than their rivals on the final stage.
Nonetheless this was a battling performance from the Cork/Mayo crew, who see their Dunlop National Rally Championship challenge back on track after a disappointing retirement on the previous round, the Mayo Stages Rally. After a slow start, including a spin on the opening test, they had dropped 37 seconds to Fitzmaurice by first service, but thereafter put in a series of blistering times to move into the lead of the rally by a single second after the penultimate stage. On the crucial final test though, Fitzmaurice and Foley put in a huge performance to stop the clocks one second faster than their rivals. With both crews having recorded total stage times of 53 minutes and 23 seconds, tie-break rules had to be brought into play, handing victory to a delighted Fitzmaurice and Foley, their second win in three events on this year’s National Rally series.
Behind the understandably disappointed O’Mahony and Higgins, Niall Maguire and Enda Sherry - winners of the Mayo Stages Rally last time out - took third, ahead of a trio of hard charging Escorts headed by Frank Kelly and Liam Brennan.
There were smiles at the finish though for Knock’s Niall Morley who was co-driving the class two Honda Civic of Sligo’s Adrian Cannon. The pair dominated the category, winning by 1 minute and 48 seconds ahead of their nearest rivals. In recognition of this excellent performance, Cannon and Morley were jointly awarded the Dunlop Drive of the Day by the championship organisers.