A mechanical failure denied Craig Breen and Paul Nagle the opportunity to make it back-to-back wins at the Rentokil Initial Killarney Historic Rally.
Their Ford Sierra RS Cosworth broke a half-shaft between the arrival control and the start line of the day’s final stage, Moll’s Gap and retired from the event on the spot.
The thousands of fans perched by the side of the famous rally stage were denied the chance to witness what was shaping up to be a final stage showdown.
The defending champions were tied on time with eventual winners Jonathan Greer and Niall Burns after six of the rally’s seven-stage.
However, when the Carryduff man entered the final stage, he already knew the plight of his stricken rival.
The Northern Ireland rally champion was able to cruise around to take his first-ever rally win in the Republic of Ireland.
“Sorry to see for Craig, that was a good battle all day so a shame for it to end that way,” he said
“We’ve had quite a good season this year in the Northern Ireland Rally Championship, but this is my first victory down south. We had a great run today – it’s our fourth attempt now with this car and yeah… we got there in the end.”
Alan Ring and his West Cork co-driver were second for the second year running in their Subaru Legacy RS.
An engine misfire hampered progress, but they set several fastest times during the day to remain in contention.
“I am the bridesmaid again,” he joked at the finish line near Kenmare on Saturday evening.
Cathan McCourt and his Millstreet co-driver Liam Moynihan set the fastest time on the last stage to secure third spot in their Ford Escort Mk2.
They were in a battle for the position with the similar car of defending Irish Tarmac Historic Rally champions Neil Williams and Anthony O’Sullivan.
“Cathan is a madman,” said the Welsh driver. “We were 1.4 seconds up going into the stage and he took ten out of us – just wow!”
Fergus O’Meara and Mikie Galvin were the top all Kerry crew in the rally. They finished second in class behind Williams and O’Sullivan.
“It was a good battle all day,” said O’Meara. “My hands are pulled off me from all the steering.”
Fergus has registered for the 2023 Irish Tarmac Historic Rally Championship – Saturday’s rally was the opening round – and the is in second place overall after their weekend’s result.
Todd Falvey and Iarla McCarthy finished 19th overall in their Escort.
Todd’s nephew Robert Falvey and his co-driver John Doody were second in class D3 in another Escort.
Brendan Brosnan and Eilish Dunne were on their second outing in a Ford Escort RS1800 and reported a trouble-free run.
Mini driver Aidan Kennedy paid tribute to the organising Killarney and District Motor Club. “It was a fantastic event, thanks to all at KDMC for a brilliant job.”
Cork’s James Hall and his Tralee co-driver Tony McCarthy were competing in an Audi Coupe.
They were delighted to get three runs over Moll’s Gap in what was a first for the rally.
“Will we ever again get a chance like that? ” said McCarthy.
Donegal’s Kevin Eves and Chris Melly led the modified section of the rally from the event’s second stage.
It was the Toyota Corolla Twincam crew’s first major event win anywhere in the country.
“This is one for the top of the mantelpiece,” he said ahead of the event’s prizegiving ceremony in the Gleneagle Hotel.
Former British Rally champion Daniel McKenna was second overall and the first of three Monaghan drivers who made up the next three places.
Johno Doogan and Paul Lennon pipped former winners Dessie Keenan and Jason McKenna by just 4.7 seconds.
Fancied front runners Conor Murphy and Sean Collins topped the time sheets after stage one but the local crew retired later in the day with gearbox problems.
Glenflesk’s Denis Hickey and Eoin O’Leary recorded one of their best results to date by bringing their Escort home in eighth place.
They won the Riordan Cup for the highest-placed all-Kerry-crew in the modified section of the rally.
Colin Moynihan, brother of third-placed historic co-driver Liam and Kevin Horgan were ninth overall in their Ford Escort.
Tenth-placed Kevin O’Donoghue and Evan MacBride had a dramatic day. Their BMW M3 E30 was filled with smoke in the morning, and they suffered steering column issues later in the day.
“All in all I’m happy with the run,” said Kevin.
Dave Slattery and Denis Coffey had no dramas on their way to 13th place
“It was a good school day,” said Slattery.
Tadhg O’Sullivan and John McCarthy finished 18th, one place ahead of the Escort of Shane McCarthy/Donagh Crowley.
Cathal Quill was competing in his first rally in three years and guided Thomas Randles to 22nd overall.
Father and daughter crew Charlie Hickey and Charlene Hickey survived a hair-raising 360-degree spin on Ballaghbeama.
Jack Kelleher and Stephen Quinn were another crew happy to make the finish.
“It was absolutely unreal, that is what dreams are made of,” said Kelleher.
Lixnaw’s Keith McCarthy guided Neil Phelan to a top-30 finish.
Sean Enright and Kevin Doherty finished fourth in their class in another Ford Escort Mk2 – a poor tyre choice for the morning’s run was their only issue.
Sean Nolan was on pacenote duty for Stephen Bawn and they finished 35th, two places ahead of Brian Hickey and Mark Horgan who were on their second outing in a newly acquired Escort.
Brothers Alan and Paddy Costello reported a trouble-free run on their way to third in class.
Noel O’Sullivan Sr, father of British championship-winning co-driver Noel Jr, and his long-serving navigator Nicholas Burke took another class win in their famous orange and green Escort.
Tom O’Sullivan and Mark O’Sullivan finished inside the top 50 in their Peugeot 205 GTi.
Brother and sister Mossie Costello and Megan Costello competed in their father Jason’s Ford Escort Mk2 for the first time and after bringing it back in one piece they are promised more outings in the car.
The following three local crews, Niall Myers/Colm Myers (Toyota Corolla RWD), David Leslie/Melissa Leslie (Ford Escort RS), and Shane Doyle/William Kelleher (BMW E30) all relied on SuperRally rules to get to the finish
Just as newspapers and magazines are paid for, digital editorial content will also have to be paid for.
Please subscribe and help us keep this machine running!
It’s only €50 per year – subscribe now
Subscribe to get access
Read more of this content when you subscribe today.