Tight at the top in Donegal rally

Martin Walsh Motorsport

Tight at the top in Donegal rally

A two-and-a-half second time frame covers the top three drivers after an absorbing opening day in the Joule Donegal International Rally, round five of the Irish Tarmac Championship.

Donegal’s Declan Boyle leads Waterford’s Craig Breen by nine tenths of a second, with Monaghan’s Sam Moffett 1.6 seconds further behind in an all Fiesta WRC top three.

There was drama on the way to the first stage when Donagh Kelly’s Ford Focus WRC stopped with a broken prop shaft, bringing an abrupt end to his bid for a long awaited win. Devine took a seven-second lead from the opening Mouldy Hill stage with Alistair Fisher’s similar R5 Fiesta a second ahead of the Hyundai i20 of Monaghan’s Josh Moffett.

Remarkably, the first of the World Rally Cars, in the hands of Sam Moffett, was down in fourth — two-tenths of a second behind his brother Josh. The Fiesta WRCs of Declan Boyle and Craig Breen were next, the latter 9.5 seconds off top spot.

Eighth-placed Garry Jennings (Subaru WRC) set the best time on the second stage and Declan Boyle was quickest on the third stage. At the Letterkenny service, new rally leader Boyle opted to change to a harder compound tyre as he led Breen by 0.9 of a second with a composed Devine another half second behind.

Sam Moffett was surprised to hold fourth as he admitted he lost time through the stages two and three. On the repeat loop, Fisher punctured on SS4 and dropped to 11th (fifth R5 car); Jennings punctured on SS6 and holds fifth overnight 24.2 seconds off the lead.

Without setting a fastest stage time, Breen edged ahead on SS5 only for Boyle to respond and reclaim top spot on the day’s final stage. There are eight stages today and six on Sunday.

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