Meeke leads Rally of the Lakes in Killarney

Through eight of today’s nine stages of this first leg of the Ordnance Survey Killarney International Rally of the Lakes, round three of the Global Group Irish Tarmac Championship, there was little between Northern Ireland duo, Kris Meeke and Eugene Donnelly.

Through eight of today’s nine stages of this first leg of the Ordnance Survey Killarney International Rally of the Lakes, round three of the Global Group Irish Tarmac Championship, there was little between Northern Ireland duo, Kris Meeke and Eugene Donnelly.

They were involved in a terrific dice for supremacy that swung very much in favour of Meeke on the final stage.

He has an overnight advantage of 24.7 seconds as rival Donnelly spun on today’s ninth and final test. Norwegian teenager, Andreas Mikkelsen (Ford Focus) is third – 8.1 seconds further behind.

Meeke was quickest on the opening test, Moll’s Gap where he eked a 2.2 second lead over Donnelly. But he punctured his Subaru on the second test and dropped to second – 9.1 seconds off new leader, Donnelly.

However, the reigning Irish Tarmac champion had a brief tenure at the top as Meeke regained the lead out on Stage 3, albeit by a fraction of a second.

Closely matched, they traded times over the next five stages, Donnelly came to within 0.2 of a second after the completion of SS 6, but Meeke added 0.3 of a second on the day’s penultimate stage to lead by 0.5 of a second.

On today’s final stage, Ballydaly, Donnelly had a costly spin and lost over 20 seconds to his rival.

Andreas Mikkelsen gave an impressive display, he recovered from a second stage accident and moved into third by the fifth stage and with Donnelly’s spin, he has moved to within touching distance of second spot.

Last year’s winner, Tim McNulty, who has yet to finish a round of this year’s Global Group Irish Tarmac Championship, had a spin on SS 4 and lost time when he caught up with the punctured Subaru of Mark Higgins.

However, he punched in some solid times on the closing stages to secure fourth at the overnight halt.

Two other drivers, Kevin Lynch and Gareth MacHale are within a 3.3 second time frame of Lynch, who is getting more accustomed to his Ford Focus.

MacHale dropped time with tyre choice and an overshoot.

Two punctures for Mark Higgins, the first on the opening stage, took the edge out of his performance

and the reigning British champion remarked that there was no point in pushing as the time lost was too much. He is seventh overnight.

Elsewhere, the top ten is completed by Stephen Murphy, Patrick Elliott and Austin MacHale.

During the day, Austin MacHale had transmission trouble.

Meanwhile, Aaron MacHale also in a Ford Focus ended the day in eleventh place.

Colm Murphy (Subaru) is leading Group N - some 16.2 seconds ahead of the Mitsubishi of James Cullen.

Overnight Top 10 (Provisional):

1 K Meeke/J Andersson (Subaru WRC) 1h. 05m. 54.9s.

2 E Donnelly/P Kiely (Subaru WRC) 1h. 06m. 19.6s.

3 A Mikkelsen/O Floene (Ford Focus WRC) 1h. 06m.27.7s.

4 T McNulty/A Nestor (Subaru WRC) 1h. 07m. 10.6s.

5 K Lynch/D Moynihan (Ford Focus WRC) 1h. 07m. 12.8s.

6 G MacHale/P Nagle (Ford Focus WRC) 1h. 07m.13.9s.

7 M Higgins/R Kennedy (Subaru WRC) 1h. 07m. 57.0s.

8 S Murphy/MJ Morrissey (Subaru WRC) 1h. 08m. 27.7s.

9 P Elliott/P Goodman (Subaru WRC) 1h. 09m. 17.0s.

10 A MacHale/B Murphy (Ford Focus WRC) 1h. 09m.27.7s.

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