Ray Breen (Ford Focus WRC) and Patrick Elliott (Subaru WRC) served up a thrilling race in the Suirway Forklifts/Carraig Hotel Raven’s Rock Rally at the south Tipperary town.
Breen took victory by a 9.1-second margin, in what was the sixth round of the Dunlop series
Elliott won the opening stage but Breen, who managed to have his car re-fettled for what was his home event, bounced back to lead by 5.8 seconds at the end of the second stage.
Niall Maguire dropped to fifth after his Subaru experienced two punctures. PJ McGrath made a promising state and held third followed by Kevin Barrett and Maguire.
Andrew Purcell (Mitsubishi) set a hot pace top lead Group N.
Elliott reclaimed the lead on the repeat of the two stages where he went 8.2 seconds ahead of Breen, who reckoned an incorrect tyre choice was the major factor.
Breen cut Elliott’s lead to a fraction of a second after stages five and six. On the penultimate test, the Kilkenny ace moved ahead and sealed victory on the last stage.
Elliott took maximum points in the Dunlop series to join Maguire at the top of the championship leaderboard. Maguire eventually finished third in the event.
There was late drama in Group N - two punctures saw Purcell drop down the order and Alan Ring (Mitsubishi) was best placed to win the showroom category.
Trevor Mulligan (Escort) was the top two-wheel drive competitor.
1. R. Breen/M. Brady (Ford Focus WRC) 56m. 24.8s.
2. P. Elliott/P. Goodman (Subaru WRC) 56m. 33.9s.
3. N. Maguire/P. McLaughlin (Subaru WRC) 57m. 25.4s.
4. PJ McGrath/B. Collins (Subaru WRC) 57m. 57.7s.
5. K. Barrett/S. Mullally (Subaru WRC) 58m. 28.6s.
6. T. Mulligan/L. Roe (Ford Escort) 59m. 33.9s.
7. A. Ring/A. Deasy (Mitsubishi) 59m. 45.2s.
8. N. Williams/E. Davies (Ford Escort) 1h. 00m. 08.4s.
9. W. James/S. Evans (Darrian) 1h. 00m. 09.1s.
10. L. McCarthy/K. Murphy (Toyota Corolla WRC) 1h. 00m. 45.2s.
Dunlop National Rally Championship (Provisional standings after Round 6): =1. N. Maguire & P. Elliott 112 points; 3. K. Barrett 59 points.