There was a second successive podium finish in the British Rally Championship for Antrim’s Desi Henry (Skoda Fabia R5) and his Cork co-driver Liam Moynihan who finished third overall in round five of the Nicky Grist Rally in Wales.
The rally was won by Elfin Evans/Craig Parry (Fiesta R5), who finished a minute and 11.4 seconds ahead of the Fiesta R5 of Tom Cave/James Morgan. Henry/Moynihan were 50.4 seconds further behind.
Early morning rain made Saturday’s eight stages in the Welsh forests particularly challenging. Top seed and series leader Evans spun his Ford Fiesta on the opening stage where Tom Cave (Fiesta R5) was fastest to lead Scottish ace David Bogie (Skoda Fabia R5) by 1.7 seconds with Fredrik Ahlin (Fiesta) two seconds behind.
Evans had issues with the pop off valve on the second stage but still managed to punch in the best time to move into third behind leader Cave and Bogie. Ahlin ended up getting stuck in a ditch that brought his third retirement of the season.
Halfway through the day Evans was 24.1 seconds ahead of Cave with Jamie Anderson (Fiesta R5) third. A stage later Desi Henry had replaced Anderson in the top three.
Apart from his opening stage error, Evans was quickest on all the other stages ending the leg with a 48.1 lead over Cave with Henry 51.6 seconds further behind in third, the latter admitted to having a few moments during the day.
Josh Moffett (Fiesta R5) spun on the first stage and ended the day in sixth. A twenty-second road penalty demoted Jonny Greer (Citroen DS3 R5) from fourth to seventh.
Meanwhile, Killarney’s Rob Duggan (Vauxhall Adam) was best of the British Junior Rally Championship competitors.
At the evening service halt the crews change the cars from gravel specification to tarmac settings ahead of yesterday’s stages in the military ranges of Epynt.
Evans was quickest on the yesterday’s first stage on tarmac although in terms of the stage time - there was only nine tenths of second between the Welshman, Bogie, Cave and Henry.
Only Greer (S.S. 10) and Henry (S.S. 12) interrupted Evans’ fastest stage times and by S.S. 15, he led Cave by a minute and 11.4 seconds with Henry 50.4 seconds further behind in third.
That transpired to be the final stage as the remaining three stages were cancelled due to an accident. Killarney’s Rob Duggan/Ger Conway (Vauxhall Adam) took top points in the Junior category.
Meanwhile, Paddy McVeigh (Subaru WRC) won the Sligo Rally finishing 4.4 seconds ahead of the Escort of Damian Toner. Enda McCormack (Subaru WRC) was third.
In wet conditions, Frank Wray (Subaru WRC) set the initial pace and he led McVeigh by 8.4 seconds with Gary Kiernan (Escort) 4.1 seconds further behind in third.
They were the only three crews to traverse the stage that was blocked when local driver Paul Kiely (Mitsubishi) crashed heavily into a tree. Kiely and co-driver Eugene Donnelly were removed to hospital but their injuries are not thought to be serious.
Wray departed with mechanical troubles and by the end of the opening loop Damien Toner (Escort) led the Subaru WRC of Enda McCormack by 4.4 seconds with McVeigh 3.4 seconds further adrift. On the remainder of the rally McVeigh upped his pace to take victory.
Elsewhere, Enniscorthy’s Sean Cahill (JB Buggy) strengthened his bid to win the Five Star Loose Surface Autocross National Championship with victory in Skibbereen Loose Surface Autocross event at Clonakilty.
In slippery conditions he posted the best time of the day on his second run to take victory. Peter Brennan (Semog Special) and Joe MacHale (Beresford Special) were second and third, respectively. Fermoy based Polish driver Lukasz Czapnik (Subaru) was the top saloon driver.
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