By Adam Hall
Photo by DH Harrigan
Samdec Security International ITRC
Callum Devine and Noel O’Sullivan successfully defended their Rally of the Lakes crown to take their second Irish Tarmac win of the year by a well-managed 25.1 seconds.
The Volkswagen Polo R5 crew fought back from a puncture on Killarney’s Moll’s Gap opener to grab the rally lead on stage four. Despite continued threats from Robert Barrable and Rob Duggan, Devine’s grasp on first was unrelenting as he showed the same class that clinched his Circuit of Ireland win earlier this month.
Hometown hero Rob Duggan set a blistering time through stage one to grab an early 9.8-second lead on his first R5 outing since 2018. Barrable was the best of the rest in second while Meirion Evans completed the top three.
Jonny Greer and Niall Burns didn’t make it through Killarney’s opening test. Their Citroen C3 Rally2 slid wide into one of Moll’s Gap’s rockfaces with the damage leaving them stranded.
Duggan extended his advantage on Healy Pass but his sensational start was to endure its first setback on the next test.
Galway International Rally winners, Meirion Evans and Jonathan Jackson, set the second-fastest time through Healy Pass but a roll on Cod’s Head put their Polo R5 out of the running.
Devine and Josh Moffett were the only drivers to complete the stage before Evans’ off temporarily stopped the stage. The Derry driver flew through the bumps, jumps, twists, and turns of the epic Cod’s Head test, going 14.5 seconds faster than Moffett.
The crews who completed stage three at road speed were given Moffett’s time, putting Devine right back in the mix after his stage one puncture.
Devine and Barrable battled for the remainder of the day, trading stage wins with Devine finishing day one’s eight stages with a 7.5-second overnight lead.
Devine was the fastest out of the blocks on Sunday morning’s Moll’s Gap opener. Four seconds separated Devine, Barrable, and Duggan through the famous 17.5-kilometre test.
Devine and Killarney co-driver O’Sullivan grabbed another stage win on Ballaghbeama but a brave Barrable was staying in touch, 13 seconds behind with six stages remaining.
Fourth-placed Josh Moffett showed a glimpse of his usual pace on Ballaghbeama, setting the third-fastest time. The reigning Tarmac champion had extended his advantage over Sam Moffett to 9.7 seconds after stage ten.
Sam Moffett’s intentions to bounce back on the succeeding Moll’s Gap test didn’t come to fruition. Instead, his rally-long brotherly battle ended when his Hyundai i20 Rally2 slid into a chicane backwards.
Meanwhile, Barrable’s gamble to take a harder compound of tyres for Killarney’s second loop of the day didn’t pay off, dropping 13 seconds to Devine.
Devine kept his cool through two passes of Gortnagane and Knockrower East to seal another crucial victory in his Irish Tarmac title hunt. Duggan slid into a bank on Killarney’s penultimate test, solidifying Barrable’s second runner-up finish of the year.
Championship leader, Josh Moffett, cruised home in third to secure more important points.
Enda O’Brien and Declan Boyle enjoyed a great duel in their Volkswagen Polos. O’Brien finished on top, by 7.3 seconds, to claim fourth overall in his right-hand-drive variant.
Ioan Lloyd claimed an incredible 1.5-second victory in Rally4 pipping Kyle McBride on the very last stage. The front-wheel-drive class showcased some incredible driving and battles all weekend.
Casey Jay Coleman had led the class by 43.5 seconds after Sunday morning’s stages. Unfortunately, a crash on Gortnagane put his Ford Fiesta Rally4 on the list of retirees. Keelan Grogan finished Saturday 11.8 seconds behind Coleman but retired on stage nine after colliding with a chicane on Moll’s Gap.
McEvoy Motorsport Modified ITRC
Kevin Eves and Chris Melly looked set to secure their first modified victory of the year. They drove superbly to lead the two-wheel-drive category by 45 seconds with two stages remaining.
Their Toyota Corolla had to freewheel out of Knockrower East, however and were unable to return for the final loop.
Jason Black and Karl Egan would have inherited modified’s top spot but the Circuit of Ireland winners were forced to stop on stage fourteen with a broken propshaft.
Chris Armstrong was another leading retiree on Sunday, he had been battling Gary Kiernan for third in modifieds when his Ford Escort Mk2’s driveshaft broke on Ballaghbeama.
Kiernan was left to bag a maximum haul of Modified ITRC points, finishing 37.1 seconds ahead of Eddie Doherty.
John McCarthy made it a Ford Escort Mk2 lockout on the modified podium and in turn secured Class 13’s top spot.
Synergy Motorsport Engineering Historic ITRC
Historic Championship leaders Duncan Williams and Guy Weaver continued their run of form to win the Rally of the Lakes’ historic category by 25.8 seconds over Gareth Bevan and Dafydd Evans.
Williams and Weaver led from their second stage after jumping ahead of initial pacesetters Will Onions and Dave Williams. But their victory was by no means a runaway as Bevan and Evans kept them honest throughout the epic mix of Killarney classics such as Cod’s Head, Moll’s Gap, and Ballaghbeama.
Onions and Williams had to settle for third in the end, finishing first in Class 18.
Paul Browne Plant Hire & Civil Engineering Junior ITRC
Darragh O’Donovan and Michael White secured a one-minute victory in Juniors aboard their Honda Civic. O’Donovan had started fastest with Moll’s Gap’s benchmark but John Michael Kennelly slipped ahead by 3.3 seconds with a rapid time through Ballaghbeama.
Ballaghbeama was to be Kennelly’s last stage of the day as O’Donovan regained the lead to seal his second Junior ITRC win of the year.
Evan McEvoy jumped into second, a position he would hold until the end of the event, and eventually finished 13.4 seconds ahead of Kyle McDaid.
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