Although Donagh Kelly’s debut in a Ford Fiesta R5 lasted just shy of the halfway mark in the Grizedale Rally in Cumbria, the Donegal driver was impressed with the car and has vowed to give it consideration in his plans for next season.
The former Irish National and Tarmac champion led until he slipped off the icy forest track and beached the M-Sport car.
The rally was won by Stephen Petch (Ford Fiesta R5), who finished 16 seconds ahead of the Ford Focus WRC of David Wright. Eaun Thorburn (Ford Fiesta R5) was 14 seconds further behind in third.
Adrian Hetherington/Ronan O’Neill (Toyota Corolla WRC) were the top Irish crew, they finished fifth.
On the opening stage Kelly topped the time sheets and led Petch by two seconds with Stephen Clark (Mitsubishi) six seconds behind.
Kelly was also quickest on the second to move five seconds clear of Petch as Clark completed an unchanged top three.
Half a mile from the end of third stage, the longest of the rally, Kelly’s exploits were cut short.
“I adjusted a note off the DVD, it was as slippery corner and we went off, simple as that.”
As for the future, “Yes, definitely, I will give it more consideration, it’s really good.”
Petch inherited the lead –14 seconds ahead of Wright.
The fourth stage was cancelled when the rescue services were deployed to an unrelated incident.
Petch went on to win from Wright with Eaun Thorburn displacing Clark for third.
Dundalk’s Brendan Cumiskey (Subaru) was ninth.
On the home front the Cork crew of Owen Murphy/Daire Hayes (Subaru) won the Carbery Navigation Trial, the second round of the Munster Navigation Trial Championship that was based in Leap, west Cork.
They took the spoils with Dermot Whelton/Mark McCarthy (Subaru) finishing second and Limerick’s Joe and Greg Shinnors (Subaru) third.
A section of the route just east of Leap proved to be the deciding factor. Murphy/Hayes dropped most of their time due to a wrong approach to the track.
Champions Donal Healy/Denis O’Donovan were one of just two crews to keep a clean sheet over the opening time points, however, their Toyota Starlet suffered a broken track rod close to Ballygurteen that brought retirement.
Meanwhile, Murphy/Hayes only dropped a few penalty points over the remainder of the 85-mile route.
Second-placed Whelton/McCarthy lost time at a farmyard complex near Glandore and also lost ground north of Rossmore and close to the finish near Leap.
Third placed crew of Joe and Greg Shinnors also fell victim to the difficulties around Leap and Glandore.
For the Monaghan/Cork crew of Derek Mackarel/Muireann Hayes (Subaru) they were left to rue their errors near Glandore as they incurred no further penalties, they had to be content with fifth overall.
Australian based Michael “Bones” O’Connor and Carrigaline’s Alan Cavanagh (Subaru) finished 15th.
Ballydehob’s George and David Swanton (Opel Vectra) - the second and only other crew to navigate the Leap racetrack correctly - won the semi-expert class.
The Novice section was won by Clonakilty’s Cal McCarthy/Eamonn McCarthy (Subaru) and Monaghan pair Emmet McCooney/Christopher McCooney (Subaru) were the top Beginners.
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