Derry’s Marty McCormack and his Cork co-driver David Moynihan (Skoda Fabia R5) were third – 1.8 seconds further behind.
McCormack, a late entry and not having competed on a tarmac event since last year and his first in the Fabia R5, set the pace on the opening stage where he was 4.2 seconds ahead of the Fiesta WRC of Declan Boyle with Garry Jennings (Subaru WRC) half a second further adrift.
Another late entry, Stephen Wright (Ford Fiesta WRC) followed in fourth. Local driver Gary Kiernan (Ford Escort) was the only one of the top two-wheel drive contingent to finish the stage, his rivals were credited with his time after Damien Tourish rolled his Escort and temporarily blocked the stage.
The results system showed Cavan’s Tommy Sexton (Ford Escort), who was seeded at No. 95, as rally leader – however, this glitch that put his Class 9 car as being 3.8 seconds ahead of McCormack, was subsequently amended as his time was some four minutes slower than initially shown.
With another fastest time on the second stage McCormack led Boyle by 7.6 seconds with Jennings 4.6 seconds further behind in third.
An overshoot on the final stage of the opening loop cost McCormack top spot, the Derry driver out-braked himself and spun and then had to reverse to find a space where he could turn around and re-join the stage.
At the Cavan service park, Declan Boyle was the new rally leader, his Fiesta WRC was 8.2 seconds ahead of McCormack with Jennings 5.7 seconds further adrift, the latter duo were trying various tyre options ahead of their respective future outings in the British Rally Championship and the Irish Tarmac series.
Wright continued in fourth with Kiernan best of the two-wheel exponents – five seconds clear of Ryan Loughran (Escort) in a top six completed by the Escort of Adrian Hetherington. Aidan Wray (Mitsubishi) led Group N.
Out on the second loop Boyle posted the best time on stages four and six, the fifth stage was cancelled as organisers were still attending to an incident that occurred on the first run.
Boyle’s lead stood at 24.6 seconds with Jennings in second – 1.1 seconds ahead of McCormack, who, like Jennings, continued to change both the tyres and suspension settings. The rest of the top six was unchanged as Wray maintained his supremacy in Group N.
On the final loop of stages Boyle added to his advantage and won by 32.1 seconds. At the finish he said, “It was a good test for Limerick (Circuit of Munster that takes place on Sunday next) and Donegal. The handling and power was great, no more excuses it’s now down to ourselves.”
On the final stage Jennings edged out McCormack for second. Elsewhere, Kiernan was the top two-wheel drive competitor while Tyrone’s Cathan McCourt (Mitsubishi) and his Cork co-driver Grace O’Brien won Group N after the Mitsubishi of long time leader Aidan Wray developed steering problems on the final stage.
Meanwhile, in the British GT Championship at Snetterton, Cork’s Matt Griffin and his British team mate Duncan Cameron on-board their Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GTE finished sixth and seventh in the respective fourth and fifth rounds of the series.
In the second race and with Griffin starting from P5, he had to use all his skill to avoid contact with a barrier when a Bentley took his racing line. He lost a few places but was back in fifth when he pitted for Cameron to conclude the race, unfortunately the British driver lost two places during his 25 minute stint.