McNulty firing on all cylinders

SECOND place doesn’t sit that comfortably with Tim McNulty (Subaru WRC), yet, for more than two thirds of the Todds Leap Ulster Rally, it was a position he held.

His attempt to secure the lead fell short at the end of the opening leg. However, undeterred on the second leg, he continued to apply the pressure on Derek McGarrity and finally edged ahead with three stages remaining. At the finish, McNulty and his Sligo co-driver, Paul Kiely had 15.1-second winning margin over McGarrity and his co-driver, James McKee. Darren Gass/Enda Sherry (Subaru) were a distant third.

Meanwhile, in Rally Northern Ireland, Garry Jennings/Rory Kennedy (Mitsubishi) finished 17.7 seconds in front of the Citroen DS3 of Marty McCormack/David Moynihan with Tommy Doyle/Liam Moynihan (Renault Clio) third.

On Saturday’s opening test south of Antrim, McNulty trimmed 5.3 seconds off McGarrity’s overnight advantage of 19.3 seconds. On stage 8, McNulty gained 2.8 seconds to trail by 11.2 seconds. The intensity of the battle increased on the next two stages around Magherafelt. Although McNulty’s gain wasn’t as significant, he continued to claw away at McGarrity’s lead that stood at 7.8 seconds.

Behind the leading duo, Darren Gass reckoned the suspension of his S10 Subaru was preventing him pushing any harder.

Midleton’s Daragh O’Riordan (Subaru) improved his times, particularly on stages nine and 10 and was much closer to the pace set by the leading pair.

In Rally Northern Ireland, overnight leader, Garry Jennings (Mitsubishi) continued to set the pace, although he led Marty McCormack (Citroen DS3) by 19.6 seconds, the latter’s form, that featured the best time on stage 9 of the Rally NI contenders, meant that Jennings couldn’t afford to slacken his pace.

Tommy Doyle’s Renault Clio maintained third. BRC leader, David Bogie (Mitsubishi), Sam Moffett (Mitsubishi) and Jonny Greer (Skoda) were next in overall classification.

By the completion of stage 10, little had changed; Jennings and McCormack continued to trade times although Elfyn Evans interrupted their dominance on the ninth test. At the mid-day service in Antrim, Jennings led his Derry rival by 20.5 seconds, Doyle retained a solid third from Bogie, who was 20.1 seconds behind. Greer displaced Moffett for fifth.

McNulty charged through stage 11. With a stunning drive he took the lead, albeit by three tenths of a second. With both close to the maximum, they set equal times on Stage 12.

McNulty reckoned he had still something in reserve and even though he was driving hard, he had no anxious moments. Gass, O’Riordan and Barrett completed the top five.

In Rally NI, Jennings appeared a little nervous at the final service even though he was outpacing the BRC contingent.

McCormack in second, the top two wheel exponent reckoned he was somewhat over-zealous on the stage at Tardree.

Meanwhile, Doyle was hoping that he could hang on to third in the face of a charge from the more powerful Mitsubishi of BRC leader Bogie.

The contest ended on the penultimate test when McNulty went 18.3 seconds ahead courtesy of a determined effort to shake off McGarrity.

The Meath driver was then able to ease off ever so slightly on the final stage to secure a victory that promoted him into the lead of the Irish Tarmac Championship. McGarrity was second with Gass, O’Riordan and Barrett next in classification.

Jennings had to be very attentive on the final stage after McCormack cut the deficit to 11.1 seconds on the penultimate test.

Jennings won out by a margin of 17.7 seconds with second placed McCormack also taking the two wheel drive award. Doyle did enough to keep BRC leader, Bogie at bay.

Charleville’s, Kieran Daly was the top finisher in the Citroen C2R2 category.

Waterford’s Craig Breen won the fourth round of the WRC Academy series at the ADAC Rally Germany after a terrific battle with Spaniard, Yeray Lemes.

Breen’s Fiesta emerged on top by a margin of 15.1 seconds, having trailed the Spanish ace by 32.2 seconds at the beginning of the final leg.

Rally Germany was won by Sebastien Ogier in a Citroen 1-2 after finishing 39.8 seconds ahead of Sebastien Loeb. Spaniard, Dani Sordo gave the MINI WRC it first podium finish in the WRC. However, Kris Meeke retired his car on the penultimate test with an electrical problem.

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