Boyles bring home the bacon

It was a victory to savour for the locals as Donegal cousins Declan Boyle and Brian Boyle (Subaru) won the Letterkenny-based Donegal International Rally, round four of the Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Championship.

Boyles bring home the bacon

At the end of the three-day spectacular, which incorporated some of the most iconic stages in Irish rallying, they finished 34.8 seconds ahead of Monaghan’s Sam Moffett/James O’Reilly (Ford Fiesta WRC). Garry Jennings/Rory Kennedy (Subaru WRC) were a distant third.

On Saturday’s opening stage Moffett cut the deficit to 3.3 seconds, but that was as close as he got to Boyle, who was in superb form through the two runs over Knockalla where he gleamed some 20 seconds from Moffett. In the afternoon stages the Donegal man pressed hard — scuffing a chicane bale in the process.

The organisers were forced to cancel the day’s final stage (SS 14) due to an accident on Stage 12 and the deployment of the emergency service to an unrelated incident near stage 13. Boyle’s Subaru seemed to lapse on to three cylinders through SS 13 and he was fortunate with the cancellation — Moffett ended the day 37.2 seconds behind.

An improved performance from Darren Gass (Subaru WRC) elevated him to third but he crashed on SS 13 and although he finished the stage, he withdrew. That promoted Garry Jennings into third. Derek McGarrity (Subaru WRC) was fourth overnight while Donagh Kelly’s rally ended on Stage 11 when he crashed after experiencing clutch woes. Josh Moffett (Mitsubishi) took control of Group N and Daniel McKenna (Escort) dominated the Modified section.

Fastest time on both of yesterday’s opening stages gave Moffett renewed hope as he chiselled away at Boyle’s lead and cut the deficit to 26.5 seconds. Taking no great chances through the final loop, albeit two slight overshoots on the final stage, Boyle took victory to become the first Donegal driver since James Cullen (1999) to win, the Boyle cousins are also the first all-Donegal crew since 1983 (Vincent Bonner/Seamus McGettigan) to taste success on their local event.

In Group N, Josh Moffett coasted to victory despite a puncture on the final stage and Gary McPhillips (Escort) won the Modified section after McKenna retired with transmission failure.

Craig Breen’s recent dismal run in the European Rally Championship continued on the Geko Ypres Rally where he retired his Peugeot 208 T16 due to technical issues. Leader of the ERC Esapekka Lappi (Skoda Fabia WRC) crashed heavily on the ninth stage and the gap between them remains 33 points. Monaghan’s Stephen Wright (Peugeot 208 R2), co-driven by his sister Susanne, was 28th overall and tenth in class.

Meanwhile, Cork pair Owen Murphy and James O’Brien had an eventful outing in the Carlisle Historic Rally, round five of the RAC Historic Championship. They lost two minutes on the opening stage when the pedal box broke and they slid off the road and hit a tree. However, they managed to get back and, although they went off once more, they finished the stage and carried out some repairs on the road section. The brake troubles continued on the next two stages and on the latter stages they had a number of overshoots before finishing down in fourteenth place. Galway’s Ray Cunningham and co-driver Andrew Bushe completed two stages before their retirement. The rally was won by Jason Pritchard (Ford Escort).

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