Increasing their lead over the closing stages, Stephen Moore/Tony McHugh won the Mitchelstown-based Sean Conlon Memorial Forest Rally in their Ford Focus WRC today.
At the end of today’s eight special stages, they were 50 seconds in front of Keith Cronin/Anthony O’Connell (Mitsubishi), who led midway through the rally.
Stuart Darcy/Andy O’Donoghue (Mitsubishi) were a distant third, in what was the second round of the Hankook National Forest Rally Championship.
Moore was quickest on the first stage but only by a second, with Cronin, the 2006 Billy Coleman Award runner-up, in second spot in his Group N Mitsubishi.
The West Cork driver moved into the lead on the second test and after four stages, he was two seconds ahead of Moore.
The Tyrone driver cut five seconds off Cronin’s lead on S.S. 4 despite having to use manual gearshift for the latter part of the stage.
Brian McGillin (Hyundai) held third at the halfway stage, but retired on the fifth stage with Andrew Purcell, who punctured on S.S. 2, slotting his Subaru into third.
However, he bowed out on the penultimate test, with Stuart Darcy inheriting the spot.
Cronin bent the steering arm when he hit a rock on S.S. 6 and had to guide the Mitsubishi through the final stages with the damaged unit as he was only able to carry out basic repairs at the final service.
Late entry, Colin Britton brought his Mitsubishi home in fourth ahead of Kevin O’Kane (Subaru), who had a difficult day – clutch, gearbox and suspension trouble and a puncture denied him a better result.
James Coleman (Ford Escort) was the best of the two-wheel-drive exponents.
Moore’s victory was his second of the series and maintains his 100% record.
1. S. Moore/T. McHugh (Ford Focus WRC) 1h. 09m. 06s.
2. K. Cronin/A. O’Connell (Mitsubishi Evo7) 1h. 09m. 56s.
3. S. Darcy/A. O’Donoghue (Mitsubishi) 1h. 11m. 57s.
4. C. Britton/A. Kierans (Mitsubishi) 1h. 13m. 33s.
5. K. O’Kane/M. Brady (Subaru WRC) 1h. 13m. 40s.
6. J. Coleman/M. Haley (Ford Escort) 1h. 16m. 53s.