Leading from the start Donegal’s Donagh Kelly (Ford Focus WRC) swept to a fifth successive victory in the Quality Hotel West Cork Rally. Co-driven by Monaghan’s Conor Foley they finished 45.8 seconds clear of Monaghan’s Josh Moffett and co-driver Andy Hayes with Irish Tarmac champions Monaghan’s Sam Moffett and Cork’s Karl Atkinson (Fiesta R5) in third.
Kelly set a scorching pace on the classic Ring stage that wound its way along Clonakilty Bay. By the finish at Lislevane he was 18.3 seconds clear of Declan Boyle, who had a slight altercation with the scenery that damaged a front track control arm. Josh Moffett was only a tenth of a second behind and led the R5 category from his brother Sam, who was on his first outing of the year and admitted to being a bit rusty. Robert Barrable was next followed by Desi Henry, who had issues with the brake fluid. Kelly blitzed the opposition on the second stage at Clogagh and stretched his advantage to 31.4 seconds. Josh Moffett moved into second with Boyle 14.8 seconds further behind and having difficulties with the handling of his Fiesta. Sam Moffett closed to within 2.4 seconds with Barrable and Henry completing the top six.
On the repeat of both stages Kelly didn’t offer his rivals any encouragement and duly extended his lead to 56.5 seconds — even after four stages a fifth win looked almost imminent. Yet, Josh Moffett refused to throw in the towel — he led the R5 brigade from his brother Sam, who was 26.1 seconds adrift.
Boyle slipped to fourth, he recalled a huge moment towards the end of the Ring stage when his Fiesta had a 360-degree spin close to the cliff edge.
Henry leapfrogged Barrable in the race for fifth albeit by a fraction of a second.
Elsewhere, the Fiesta R5’s of Stephen Wright, Jonny Greer and Daniel Cronin along with the Hyundai of Eugene Donnelly completed the top 10.
The afternoon stage at Newcestown and Ballinascarthy were repeated twice as Kelly continued to shine. Only Josh Moffett broke his dominance of fastest stage times, that was on S.S. 7 but it was only by half a second. By then, Kelly had backed off a little as he arrived at the overnight halt leading Moffett by a minute and 25.5 seconds. Boyle regained some confidence and third place while Sam Moffett was just 2.3 seconds away. The remainder of the top 10 was unchanged.
In the Modified category Gary Kiernan (Proton S2500) reeled in the Darrian of John Dalton and led by 5.5 seconds.
Yesterday, Kelly’s Focus shed a belt, fortunately, the situation was rectified at service before he tacked the first loop of three stages. On return to the final service he led Josh Moffett by a minute and 46.8, the latter had issues with a sticking throttle. Sam Moffett was 19.4 seconds further adrift leapfrogging Declan Boyle, who lost time with a broken rear suspension arm.
On the final three stages Kelly slackened his pace to claim his fifth win with Josh and Sam Moffett completing the podium line-up. Boyle, Barrable and Henry followed. Enniskillen’s Willie Mavitty (Mitsubishi) won Group N, early leader David Guest (Mitsubishi) broke a driveshaft but still finished second.
Cavan’s Gary Kiernan (Proton) won the National event, Ovens driver Owen Murphy (Sunbeam) won the Historics and Meath’s Gary McNamee (Honda Civic) won the Junior category.
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