Taking the lead on the fourth stage, British duo Paul Bird/Aled Davies (Ford Focus WRC) won the Dunboyne- based Triton Showers ALMC Rally.
They finished six seconds ahead of fellow overseas crew, Damien Cole/James Morgan, also in a Ford Focus WRC, with the Subaru WRC of Steve Simpson/Patrick Walsh, 15 seconds further behind in third.
Indications of a close battle were reflected in the time sheets after the opening stage where Simpson and Cole set the same time with Kenny McKinstry (Subaru WRC) four seconds behind and Bird nine seconds off top spot.
By the end of the opening loop, a mere six seconds covered the top four. Cole, despite a spin at a chicane bale on SS2, led Simpson by two seconds. Bird, who posted the best times on the second and third stages, moved into third a mere second behind, and three seconds ahead of McKinstry. As expected, Simon Mauger (Escort) led the two-wheel drive category, he was 14 seconds ahead of the Darrian of Washington James. Elsewhere, Kevin Barrett on his debut in the ex-Derek McGarrity S14 Subaru WRC, held 12th spot, the Maynooth driver admitted he struggled to adapt to the left-hand drive.
Bird continued his domination through the fourth stage even though he reckoned that he didn’t get the tyres to work properly, he eked into a single second lead over Simpson. Another fastest time (on SS5) allowed Bird into a three-second lead, with Cole his closest rival.
Cole responded with the best time on stage six to reduce Bird’s lead to the minimum at the final service halt. Simpson was a further five seconds behind in third with Hugh Hunter (Subaru S11) a further 20 seconds adrift in fourth.
McKinstry was top Irish driver in fifth. Mauger continued to lead the two-wheel drive category, he was seventh in general classification, 23 seconds ahead of Trevor Mulligan (Escort), who was eighth overall.
The battle continued through SS7 with the top pair sharing the same time. To add to the intrigue Simpson, who was fastest on the stage, was only four seconds off the top.
The penultimate stage failed to change the top two positions as Simpson lost ground. On the final stage, Bird’s winning performance saw him take the laurels by six seconds. Cole was second, 15 seconds ahead of Simpson. Hugh Hunter was fourth with McKinstry fifth.
Mauger won the two-wheel drive section where Mulligan took the runner-up spot. Kevin Barrett (Subaru S14) finished 10th overall.
Meanwhile, Monaghan racer, Trevor Delaney won the Dunlop Formula Vee Festival at Mondello Park taking the chequered flag ahead of Wicklow’s Adam McAuley and Rathgar’s Ray Moore. Sean Newsome, in just his second event, was fourth.
Dublin’s Derek Tohill netted a second victory of the season, winning the Touring Car final at the sixth round of the FIA Euro Rallycross Championship at Holjes Sweden.
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