A late entry, Donegal’s Declan Gallagher (Toyota Starlet) and co-driver Derek Heena had an emphatic win in the Acesigns Laois Heartlands Rally. With the best times on all six stages, they finished a minute and 32.4 seconds ahead of the Ford Escort of fellow Donegal crew Mark Alcorn/John O’Donnell. Oldcastle’s Gary McNamee co-driven by Brian Brady took an impressive third in their Class 16 Honda Civic — 11.2 seconds further behind.
Gallagher powered his way through the first of the day’s six stages and led top seed and last year’s winner Cavan’s Jonny Pringle (Escort) by 14.7 seconds, however, Pringle was in trouble and lost time towards the stage end when the alternator bracket snapped and his Escort had to be towed back to the service park and he withdrew. Cashel’s Pat O’Connell (Mitsubishi EvoX) was 2.2 seconds behind the unlucky Cavan driver. Ironically, the alternator bracket also snapped in Gallagher’s Toyota Starlet on the second stage but he was able to continue and enjoyed a 32.8 second advantage over O’Connell with Donegal’s Mark Alcorn (Escort) another 5.8 seconds behind followed by the Escort trio of Wexford’s Richard Moore, Meath’s Jack Newman (Escort) and Banteer’s Barry Meade (Ford Escort).
Gallagher was quickest through the repeat of both stages and arrived at the final service with a 58.9 sec lead over O’Connell with Alcorn 5s further adrift. Moore remained fourth, but Newman dropped down the order when his Escort wouldn’t start the third stage. Lisburn’s Wesley Patterson (Escort) slotted into fifth from Meade.
Gallagher went on to become the ninth event winner in as many years. O’Connell (Mitsubishi) retired when he hit a chicane on the penultimate stage.
There was a surprise pairing in the final of the West Cork Motorcycle Drag Races at Halfway, Ballinhassig as Roscommon’s Paul “Jo Jo” Davies (Suzuki Hayabusa) beat Limerick rider Karol Davern (Suzuki GSXR). Sixty-one year old Davis beat last year’s defeated finalist Kieran O’Driscoll (Suzuki GSXR) in the semi-final with the latter overcooking the back tyre in the warm up. In the other semi-final six-time winner British rider Craig Mallabone (Hayabusa 1300) had to yield to Davern. The event was held in trying conditions as heavy showers prevented faster times. Indeed, the conditions prevented Blarney’s Ted Brady from competing in the Mel Nolan Yamaha Prostock 1200 Nitrous. Elsewhere there were class wins for Togher’s Roy Werst (Suzuki SV), Clonakilty’s Garry Keohane (Honda CBR-R), Turner’s Cross rider Patrick Kavanagh (Suzuki GSXR), Ballincollig’s Adrian O’Driscoll (Kawasaki ZX), Douglas’ Brian Murray (Kawasaki ZXR) and Ringaskiddy’s Kieran Kelly (Suzuki GSXR).
Cork’s All-Ireland and All-Star winning camogie player Ashling Thompson, who made her competitive motorsport debut at Mondello Park over the weekend in the Keelan Construction Fiesta Zetec Championship finished two of her three races.
On Saturday, having qualified for her first race 14th out of 22, the Milford ace had a good start but had to take evasive action on
the second lap when Aimee Woods spun in front of her, so
as a result
she lost several places before finishing 16th. In yesterday’s opening race she was 13th but in her final race she retired after six laps with a blown engine. William Kellett (2) and Colm Barrable were the race winners.
Elsewhere, local competitors had a lock out of the top three places in the Munster Autocross at Ladysbridge, round four of the Barrett International Transport/Daly Motor Services Munster Autocross. On his first appearance of the season former champion Clonakilty’s Paul O’Driscoll took the spoils ahead of Rosscarbery’s Brian O’Mahony and Vicarstown’s Dermot O’Riordan, all three campaigned a Semog Buggy.
Cork’s Matt Griffin and his Spirit of Race team mate Duncan Cameron were forced to withdraw from the third round of the GT Open Championship at Spa-Francorchamps due to a technical issue with the engine of their Ferrari.