Donegal’s Declan Boyle and his Monaghan co-driver James O’Reilly made the perfect start to this year’s Triton Showers National Rally Championship with victory in the Achill Island-based Óstán Oileán Acla/Connacht Print & Signs Mayo Rally.
At the conclusion of the day’s nine stages they finished 37 seconds ahead of the Monaghan/Limerick partnership of Josh Moffett and Keith Moriarty (Ford Fiesta WRC).
Debuting a Ford Fiesta R5, Derry’s Desi Henry and his Millstreet co-driver Liam Moynihan were third — one minute and 1.1 seconds behind.
Boyle almost didn’t make it to the start as his Fiesta stopped with an electrical glitch close to the stage start. However, he sorted the issue and made the perfect riposte by setting the best time on the opening stage — 2.3 seconds ahead of the Ford Focus WRC of Donagh Kelly with Moffett 1.9 seconds further behind closely followed by Desi Henry (Fiesta R5).
Former Triton champion Clonmel’s Roy White (Fiesta WRC) slid off within sight of the finish of the opening test and beached his Fiesta; he rejoined under Rally2 to finish 57th overall.
Boyle also set the pace on the longest stage of the rally, the 15.14km Atlantic Drive stage where Kelly spun and dropped to third.
At the end of the loop of three stages Boyle was 16.2 seconds ahead of Moffett. Kelly punctured and slipped down to 47th overall. Third-placed Henry had to take evasive action to avoid a sheepdog on the third stage.
Last year’s Mayo winner and top seed Joe McGonigle (Mini WRC) was 38.4 seconds off the lead in fourth. Niall Maguire (Subaru WRC) and Group N leader Aidan Wray (Mitsubishi) rounded out the top six while Cavan’s Chris Armstrong (Escort) led the two-wheel drive category.
On the repeat loop, Boyle went 21 seconds clear while Moffett, on his first outing in the Fiesta WRC since April 2016, was happy with his progress.
Third-placed Henry continued to tweak his new car, he was 44.7 seconds further behind. Wray led Group N while Armstrong was coming under pressure from Donegal’s Stuart Darcy (Darrian) in the Modified section.
Boyle went to claim a morale-boosting win, he also annexed a point for being quickest on the Power stage. Moffett and Henry completed the top three.
Despite problems that included a broken exhaust and losing gear oil, Stuart Darcy reeled in Armstrong to win the two-wheel drive section.
In the Triton Showers Junior category, Armagh’s Jason Black and his Monaghan co-driver Jack McKenna took a facile win.
Meanwhile, in the World Rally Championship, Irish pair Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Citroen C3 WRC) finished third in Rally Mexico, which was won by Sebastien Ogier (Ford Fiesta WRC).
Elsewhere, Glengormley’s Derek McGarrity (Subaru WRC) netted his sixth consecutive victory in the Bishopscourt Rally that marked the beginning of the McGrady Insurance Northern Ireland Rally Championship.
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