Wet and windy conditions greeted the competitors for the start of the Colm Quinn BMW Galway International Rally, the first round of the 2014 Clonakilty Blackpudding Galway International Rally. At a drenched Gort service area before the start it promised to be a difficult day despite the shortening of both of the day’s stages. Despite the withdrawal before the start of Derek McGarrity and Daragh O’Riordan the strong entry held several potential winners, led away by current Tarmac Champion Garry Jennings in his Impreza WRC. Eugene Donnelly (Mini), Declan Boyle (Impreza), Donagh Kelly (Focus) & Sam Moffett (Fiesta) all followed with ambitions of winning the event outright.
Over the first Ballybuck stage it was Sam Moffett in his new Fiesta WRC that topped the timesheets with Boyle, Kelly and Jennings on the same second. As the flooded roads had to deal with even more rain falling, the margin at the top remained very close after the short Skehenagh stage with Boyle leading from Jennings by just five seconds and Donagh Kelly was just 0.5 seconds behind.
For the rest of the day Boyle held off a challenge from Jennings despite a problem with the engine cooling system. After the six stages his overnight lead stands at just 1.6 seconds over the reigning champion with Donnelly lurking just 8 seconds off the lead. Sam Moffett & Donagh Kelly are in fourth and fifth despite Moffett having a big moment on one of the afternoon stages leaving just 20 seconds separating the top five after the six short stages. Steve Simpson currently holds sixth place from Colm Murphy who leads group N despite strong challenges from Josh Moffett, Stephen McCann, Eugene Meegan & Martin Doherty with just 50 seconds separating them.
Top three Tarmac Championship overnight
1 – Declan & Brian Boyle Subaru Impreza WRC 2 – Garry Jennings / Rory Kennedy Subaru Impreza WRC 3 – Eugene Donnelly / Paul Kiely Mini WRC
0:21:51.8 0:21:55.4 0:22:03.7
In the Irish Tarmac Modified Championship Peadar Hurson dominated the early proceedings in his Escort WRC setting some times that would have him in the top five overall. However the car ground to a halt at the end of the penultimate stage leaving the flying Starlet of Declan Gallagher in the lead almost thirty seconds ahead of Wesley Patterson’s Escort. Ed O’Callaghan had the dubious distinction of retiring before the first stage with a broken prop shaft. However he was able to re-join under Rally 2 rules later in the day. Liam Howlett & Gary Kiernan also put in strong drives throughout the day to stay in contention for valuable championship points.
Top three Modified Championship overnight
1 – Declan Gallagher / Ryan Moore 2 – Wesley Patterson / Johnny Baird 3 – Liam Howlett / John McGrath
Toyota Starlet Ford Escort Ford Escort
0:22:46.0 0:23:15.8 0:24:21.9
In the Historic Section Ray Cunningham is on course to lead the championship after the second round as he holds comfortable advantage over his championship rivals Mervyn Johnston, Brendan McAree & and John Spiers. However with a tough and challenging day ahead tomorrow a lot can happen between now and the finish ramp
Top three Historic Championship overnight
1 – Ray Cunningham / Adrian Cusack Morris Cooper ‘S’ 2 – Mervyn Johnston / Wendy Blackledge Austin Cooper ‘S’ 3 – Brendan McAree / J.P. McAree Porsche 911
Pic: Kevin O’Driscoll