Meath's Tim McNulty, driving a Subaru WRC, today leads the Jim Clark Rally in Scotland, the fourth round of the Irish Tarmac series and also a round of the British Rally Championship.
McNulty is 20.3 seconds ahead of Irish Tarmac Championship leader, Eamonn Boland, also in a Subaru.
Gareth MacHale (Ford Focus WRC) ended the first leg in third place - 53.6 seconds further adrift and a minute 28.7 seconds ahead of his brother Aaron, the reigning Dunlop National Rally champion, who is fourth.
Other Irish drivers in the top 10 are Carryduff’s Jonathan Greer (Mitsubishi), who is eighth and Clonakilty’s Kevin Kelleher (Mitsubishi) – one place behind having lost time with a puncture on one of this morning’s opening stage.
McNulty eked out a 1.2 second advantage over British driver Guy Wilks on the first stage, but Wilks bowed out of the rally a few stages later when his Mitsubishi caught fire.
McNulty took vital seconds on most stages and by Stage 5, he was 21.4 seconds ahead of Boland with Mark Higgins in his Group N Subaru holding third overall and the highest placed competitor of the British Rally Championshiop contenders.
Always with the measure of his opponents, McNulty took no great risks and leads by 20.3 seconds heading into tomorrow’s five stages that will bring the event to a conclusion.
Brian O’Mahony (Renault Clio S1600), who was inside the top ten, had to retire with a broken engine mounting, however, he will re-start tomorrow under Super Rally rules.
Derek McGarrity was a non-starter.
Overnight Top 6:
1. Tim McNulty (Subaru WRC) 1h. 15m. 45.6s.
2. Eamonn Boland (Subaru WRC) 1h. 16m. 05.9s.
3. Gareth MacHale (Ford focus WRC) 1h. 16m. 59.5s.
4. Aaron MacHale (Ford focus WRC) 1h. 18m. 28.2s.
5. Mark Higgins (Subaru) 1h. 18. 34.7s.
6. David Higgins (Subaru) 1h. 19m. 50.1s.