Kelly again proves king in Clonakilty

Donegal’s Donagh Kelly (Ford Focus WRC) netted his fourth straight win in the Quality Hotel West Cork Rally, the second round of the Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Rally Championship.

The top three in the Quality Hotel West Cork Rally toast their success. Picture: Martin Walsh

Co-driven by Monaghan’s Conor Foley, they finished a minute and 45.9 seconds ahead of the Fiesta R5 of Josh Moffett/James Fulton, with Alastair Fisher/Gordon Noble (Fiesta R5) 22.5 seconds further behind in third.

Dunmanway’s David Guest (Mitsubishi) and his Donegal co-driver Paddy Robinson won Group N and the Modified category was won by Donegal’s Kevin Eves (Toyota Corolla) and his Macroom co-driver William Lynch.

Kelly was quickest on the opening stage but reckoned he lost time due to a tyre compound that was too soft. Barrable was just 0.4 of a second behind. Sam Moffett broke Kelly’s domination of stage times when he was quickest through S.S. 4 as Kelly led the Monaghan driver by 4.4 seconds with Barrable, who clipped a wheel on S.S. 3, occupying third – 18.1 seconds further behind.

On the stages west of Clonakilty, Kelly consolidated his lead to move 25.1 seconds ahead of Moffett. Barrable lost third for a brief spell due to a broken front strut but he was back on the pace once it was replaced.

The night stage at Sam’s Cross went the way of Kelly who ended the day with a 30.9 second advantage over Moffett with Barrable, who was 14.1 seconds further back still very much in the reckoning.

Elsewhere, Josh Moffett occupied fourth having survived a major moment on the day’s final stage. Alastair Fisher had to be content with fifth with Stephen Wright sixth. Clonakilty’s Kevin Kelleher (Subaru WRC) suffered a blown turbo on S.S. 2 and retired with engine woes.

Yesterday, Kelly edged further in front of the opening loop of stages with Sam Moffett and Barrable retaining their places, however, on S.S. 13, both punctured, the latter retired at the stage finish with a broken brake disc. A puncture also brought retirement for Stephen Wright (Fiesta R5). Kelly went on to seal a notable win on the 40th anniversary of the rally. Josh Moffett and Fisher were the beneficiaries of the puncture drama, Sam Moffett finished fourth. Guest was a convincing winner in Group N despite a puncture on Stage 13. Suffering a stomach upset yesterday, Kevin Eves (Toyota Corolla) lost the lead in the Modified section however, he took the spoils after Gary Kiernan and Brian Brogan retired their Escorts, the former with engine woes and the latter with a broken wheel bearing. Barry Jones/Iwan Griffith (Escort) won the Historic category and the Junior event was won by Kerry’s Kieran Reen/Andrew Cronin (Honda Civic).

Meanwhile, Ballylickey’s Keith Cronin and his Killarney co-driver Mikie Galvin had to be content with fourth place on the Border Counties Rally in Scotland, the opening round of the Prestone British Rally Championship. Derry’s Marty McCormack (Skoda R5), who was quickest on S.S. 5, hit a rock and retired on the next stage, as did Bogie. Another Derry driver Desi Henry was in fifth place until he put his Skoda off the road on the penultimate stage. Galway’s Dean Raftery (Peugeot 208 R2) was second in the Junior category.

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