Noel O’Sullivan came within five stages of winning the Donegal International Rally last weekend.
He and his driver Calum Devine were on a mission to repeat their Rally of the Lakes win last month.
The Volkswagen Polo led Ireland’s only three-day rally from Friday’s opening stage.
By Sunday morning they had a 17-second lead over the Citroen C3 R5 of Welsh/Cork crew Matt Edwards and David Moynihan and there were only five stages scheduled to run as one stage had to be cancelled due to a local bereavement.
However, it all went wrong for Devine and O’Sullivan on the day’s opening test. They hit a chicane less than one kilometre into the stage and resultant damage forced retirement.
It was a bitter pill to swallow, especially as Edwards and Moynihan were to crash out later in the day to hand the victory to Josh Moffett and Andy Hayes.
After leading the rally since the first stage on Friday morning
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was gutted, “ said O’Sullivan. “Callum drove an excellent rally and I’ve no doubt he will have his day in Donegal yet.”
The top all-Kerry crew in the Donegal International Rally were Conor Murphy and Sean Collins. The Ford Escort crew finished 12th in the modified category on their first visit to the rally.
“We had a great weekend, we did what we wanted to do and that was to gain experience up there,” said Collins. “Wrong tyre choice on Friday cost us a lot of time but other than that plenty of positives after the weekend. Roll on next year.”
Other local finishers included John McCarthy who guided Peter Wilson to 25th and Elaine Ni She who was on co-driving duty for Alan Nesbitt.
Andrew Duggan and Brian Doherty were another local crew on their first visit to Donegal and they were happy to make the finish.
Chris and Michael Browne finished sixth in the Junior category in their Honda Civic.
Rathmore teacher Declan Casey finished second in the historic class alongside Michael McDaid in a Ford Escort,Tommy Commane and Philip McKibbin had to rely on SuperRally rules to get to the finish after mechanical issues in their Ford Escort forced early retirement on Saturday.
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