Leading all the way, Monaghan’s Niall Maguire (Subaru WRC), co-driven by James O’Reilly, survived a final-stage puncture to win the Lady Gregory Hotel Galway Summer Rally in Gort.
They entered the final stage with a lead in excess of a minute. While the puncture cost them valuable time, they hung on to win by 4.7 seconds. Gary Kiernan/Ryan Moore (Escort) were second with Paddy McVeigh/Gary McElhinney (Subaru WRC) a further 2.4 seconds behind in third.
Maguire led after the opening stage, posting a time 2.2 seconds better than the Escort of Damien Toner with the Subaru WRC of Paddy McVeigh a further 1.4 seconds behind in third. Completing the loop, Maguire arrived at the Gort service park with a lead of 34.3 seconds with the Escort of Gary Kiernan in second spot 3.3 seconds in front of Galwegian Paul Curley (Subaru WRC).
McVeigh lost contact with the leading pack as he spun on stages two and three.
The Escorts of Damien Toner and Brian Brogan and the Mitsubishi of Daniel Cronin rounded out the top six — the latter thought his car had damaged a rear suspension arm but a check at the service halt confirmed otherwise. Elsewhere, a cautious Frank Kelly (Escort) was surprised to hold a top ten slot, in eighth.
On the repeat loop, Maguire stretched his lead over Kiernan to a minute and 2.1 seconds with Brogan moving into third. McVeigh slotted into fourth followed by Toner and Kelly, who remarked that the improvement in conditions meant he carried more speed. Cronin, who stalled at the start line of SS4 and lost three places, occupied ninth.
Maguire punctured on the final stage but had enough of a cushion to claim the spoils ahead of Kiernan and McVeigh. The stage was temporarily stopped when Frank Kelly crashed after his Escort got out of line on a series crests towards the finish of the final stage. The Group N category was won by Shane Maguire/Mac Kierans (Mitsubishi). Cavan’s Chris Armstrong (Escort) was the principal non-starter.
Cork racer Matt Griffin and his AF Corse team-mates Duncan Cameron and Aaron Scott finished fifth in the LMGTE category of the fourth round of the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) at the Paul Ricard Circuit in France.
Elsewhere, in circuit racing at the MRCI 500 races at Kirkistown, the first of the SEAT Supercup double header races was won by former A1GP reserve driver Niall Quin followed by polesitter Rod McGovern and Barry English.
Rod Bulter, who won round five earlier in the season, was sidelined by a dislocated shoulder. With the top six forming a reversed grid for the second race, Erik Holstein once again set the pace followed by Quinn, who started sixth. In a close battle Holstein took the chequered flag for his third win of the season to retain the championship lead.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved