Donagh Kelly enters West Cork Rally history books

Donegal’s Donagh Kelly made history in the Quality Hotel West Cork Rally by becoming the first driver to win the event three years in succession.

Donagh Kelly enters West Cork Rally history books

Co-driven by Conor Foley, they finished a minute and 26.4 seconds ahead of the Citroen DS3 R5 of Keith Cronin/Mikie Galvin. Garry Jennings/David Moynihan (Subaru WRC) were 43 seconds further behind in third.

David Guest/Paddy Robinson (Mitsubishi) claimed the Group N category.

On a damp first stage Kelly was quick to assume control as he opened up a 6.7 second advantage over Jennings, who had to draft in brother-in-law David Moynihan at a late hour to replace regular co-driver Rory Kennedy.

Jennings reckoned that the seconds lost were due to a somewhat cautious tyre choice. Cronin slotted into third 5.1 seconds further back and 1.5 in front of the Fiesta R5 of his Irish Tarmac rival Alastair Fisher.

Josh Moffett and Roy White in their respective R5 and WRC versions of the Fiesta completed the top six.

Kelly went 13 seconds ahead following the stage at Ballinascarthy. Fisher displaced Cronin in the chase for third while White did a similar act on Josh Moffett.

On the repeat of the pair of stages Kelly continued to set the best times and he arrived at the Darrara service park with an 18.7 seconds advantage over Jennings.

Cronin regained third – 31 seconds adrift of Jennings but more importantly 10.7 seconds ahead of Fisher, who was of the opinion that he had opted for a tyre compound that was too soft. On the classic Ring stage, Kelly continued his dominance of fastest stage times. Jennings spun and stalled twice and with Cronin’s DS3 R5 performing well the Ballylickey ace duly moved into second.

His rival Fisher, who lost over 13 seconds to Cronin on the stage was quickest though the sixth stage as Kelly continued to edge further in front – his lead extended to 53.9 seconds. Cronin retained second as Jennings who spun yet again held third. Fisher was fourth from Josh Moffett and Daragh O’Riordan.

Kelly ended an untroubled day 51.8 seconds ahead of Cronin who was quickest on S.S. 8. Jennings haemorrhaged more time when he stalled on the same stage, but stayed in third. Fisher crashed out on S.S. 8 as Josh Moffett inherited fourth in an overnight top six that also featured the similar Fiesta R5 of brother Sam and Roy White (Fiesta WRC).

Former winner Daragh O’Riordan (Ford Fiesta WRC) ended the day in seventh. Elsewhere, Owen Murphy had no intercoms for the opening stages and he retired his Skoda Fabia S2000 when the clutch release bearing failed.

Yesterday, Kelly stayed on course but had to pour a few pints of water into his overheating Focus prior to the final stage. Cronin with a few fastest times and despite a puncture on the penultimate stage claimed a fine second – and maximum points to extend his lead in the Tarmac series.

Third placed Jennings decided on using the final leg as a test exercise. In the battle for fourth Sam Moffett edged out his brother Josh by just 3.6 seconds, Roy White (Fiesta WRC) took sixth and Daragh O’Riordan in a similar car had to be content with seventh.

Donegal’s Brian Brogan (Escort) won the national event – 6.3 seconds ahead of the Fiesta R5+ of Akan Ring/Adrian Deasy.

Meanwhile, Alexey Lukyanuk (Ford Fiesta R5) overcame a 22.7 second overnight deficit to win the 40 Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés Rally.

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