There was late drama in the Cartell.ie Rally of the Lakes in Killarney, where Monaghan’s Sam Moffett (Fiesta R5) and his Bandon co-driver Karl Atkinson took victory after long-time leaders, Roy White and co-driver James O’Brien, clattered their Fiesta WRC against a chicane bale on SS 13 and limped to the stage finish before retiring.
It was a cruel blow, as they were on the cusp of their inaugural victory in a round of the tarmac series.
Second place went to Dubliner Robert Barrable (Hyundai i20 R5) and his Monaghan co-driver Damien Connolly, who were 29.5 seconds behind and almost three-and-half minutes ahead of the Fiesta R5 of Stephen Wright/Arthur Kierans.
On the opening stage, the iconic Moll’s Gap, Fermanagh’s Alastair Fisher set the pace and led by 4.7 seconds, with Roy White, who lost time when he hadn’t his Fiesta in gear and ready for the launch control and also endured a half spin, still taking second. Fisher was also quickest through the Tim Healy Pass to lead White by 6.9 seconds.
On SS 3 Cod’s Head, White cut the deficit to seven-tenths of a second, but their duel ended 400 metres after the start of SS 4, Ardgroom, when Fisher crashed out and ripped the front wheel off his Fiesta R5.
Winner winner!April 30, 2017
White, quickest on the stage, went 18 seconds ahead of Moffett, who was cautious on the first stage, and then, following the demise of Fisher, decided to concentrate on his championship ambitions and he claimed he wasn’t interested in catching White.
At the penultimate service in Castletownbere, White had stretched his advantage to 22.3 seconds, even though he reckoned his tyre choice wasn’t suited to stages four and five.
On the day’s final three stages, where tyre choice was crucial, each of the top trio posted a fastest stage time to leave White 21.5 seconds ahead of Barrable, with Moffett another 5.3 seconds behind in third.
Winners of the @RallyoftheLakes for the 2nd time in four years, congratulations to @sammoffett1 and @karlatkinson116 - championship leaders! pic.twitter.com/JgahTbi0tE— Kevin O'Driscoll (@kevrally) April 30, 2017
An untroubled Stephen Wright (Fiesta R5) occupied fourth ahead of the Skoda of Joe McGonigle, who spun and lost some 30 seconds on the Tim Healy Pass. Brendan Cumiskey, also in a Skoda R5, stalled on SS 6.
Yesterday, White stretched his lead to 27.8 seconds on the stage at Molls Gap. Three fastest times on the loop of stages around Killorglin saw Moffett move into second at the expense of Barrable, as White led by 20.3 seconds.
It was on SS 13 that White’s Fiesta hit the chicane bale, forcing him to retire at the stage finish. Moffett went on to claim victory, his second in three years at the Killarney event.
In Rally Argentina, Citroen duo Kris Meeke and Craig Breen experienced trouble, Meeke crashed, but re-joined under Rally2, only to crash again. Transmission woes also meant Rally2 for Breen. Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) took a final stage victory to edge out Elfyn Evans (Fiesta) by seven-tenths of a second.
Meanwhile, Derry’s Marty McCormack (Skoda Fabia R5) and his Mallow co-driver David Moynihan were the top Irish finishers in the Pirelli Rally, round two of the Prestone British Rally Championship. They finished third, as Fredrik Ahlin/Torstein Eriksen (Skoda Fabia R5) took their second win of the series.
Tom Cave (Hyundai R5) led initially, but retired with suspension damage on the third stage. Ballylickey’s Keith Cronin and his Killarney co-driver Mikie Galvin lost almost a minute with power steering troubles on stage two.
They posted the best time on SS 3 and were third at the overnight halt, but on yesterday’s opening stage they slid off the road and out of the rally. Desi Henry and Liam Moynihan (Skoda) slipped into a ditch on the third stage.
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