Taking the lead three stages from the finish, Donegal’s Manus Kelly/Donall Barrett (Subaru WRC) went on to win the Cartell.ie Rally of the Lakes in a sun drenched Killarney yesterday.
They finished 28.6 seconds ahead of the Ford Fiesta R5 of Dublin/Monaghan duo, Robert Barrable/Damien Connolly. Derry’s Desi Henry and Millstreet’s Liam Moynihan (Skoda Fabia R5) were 36.6 seconds adrift in third.
On Saturday, Barrable was on the pace right from the start and was quickest through the traditional Moll’s Gap opening stage although Manus Kelly was just three tenths of a second behind. On Tim Healy Pass, Barrable moved 14.4 seconds ahead of Kelly while Desi Henry (Skoda Fabia R5) was 6.3 seconds behind in third.
Ballylickey’s Daniel Cronin (Fiesta R5) made a solid start, sixth on the first stage he slotted into fourth as the rally entered his native county.
It was a difficult opening for the Moffett brothers — top seed Sam was already 27.7 seconds off the lead in fifth followed by Josh who was 39.8 seconds behind the rally leader.
Barrable continued to dominate and duly extended his lead to 23.7 over Kelly, who made an incorrect tyre choice.
An untroubled Henry remained in third. Sam Moffett slotted into fourth at the expense of Cronin, who was off the road on the first corner at Cod’s Head damaging the front left wheel rim.
Greer and Josh Moffett were next. Derek McGarrity retired — his Subaru developed clutch problems on the first stage and then broke a brake disc.
On the repeat of Cod’s Head Barrable, with a clutch issue, went 36 seconds clear but on the day’s final stage Kelly closed the deficit to 28.3 seconds.
Henry on his first outing in Killarney continued to hold third with Sam Moffett fourth. Cronin retired his Fiesta R5 on the stage at Ardgroom with a sensor problem, his demise elevated Greer to fifth as Josh Moffett’s Fiesta lost brakes for the second time.
Stephen Wright was off the road on one of the day’s closing stages while Eugene Donnelly (Hyundai i20 R5) struggled.
Meanwhile, David Guest (Mitsubishi) led Group N. In the Modified section Killarney’s Rob Duggan (Escort) dominated the time sheets but lost third gear on S.S. 3 necessitating a gearbox change at the service but he had to revert to manual change for the rest of the day as Banteer’s Barry Meade (Escort) closed to just four 10ths of a second.
Yesterday, taking advantage of the terrain that suited his Subaru, Kelly set a string of fastest stage times and reduced the deficit. On Stage 13 he survived a moment on a gravel section to move within a 10th of a second of Barrable, who still had clutch issues.
Kelly took the lead on S.S. 14 and went on to take victory and the perfect shakedown in his bid to win his home Donegal International for a third consecutive year.
Barrable took maximum points in the Tarmac series while Henry was third. Elsewhere, there were no major changes. Both Guest and Murphy were convincing winners of their respective Group N and Historic categories.
Local hero Duggan won the Modified section where Barry Meade punctured on S.S. 9 to end his chances, he recovered to finish third behind runner-up Gary Kiernan, all in Escorts.
Elsewhere, Cork’s Matt Griffin and his Clearwater Racing team-mates Mok Weng Sun and Keita Sawa took the final step of the podium in the LMGTE Pro-Am category of the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, the first round of the World Endurance Championship.
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