With dense fog forcing the cancellation of four stages, O’Riordan and his Derry co-driver, Tony McDaid finished 45.1 seconds ahead of Tim McNulty/Paul Kiely (Subaru), who did enough to clinch the Irish Tarmac Championship.
Fermanagh’s Garry Jennings (Mitsubishi), co-driven by Millstreet’s Liam Moynihan, were third overall. Jennings also clinched the Group N category in the ITC.
Cork pair Denis Moynihan/Gerard Conway (Ford Escort) won the Historic Rally, another Cork duo, Youghal’s Jason Ryan/Tadhg O’Sullivan (Honda) won the Modified category. Daniel Cronin/Sean Duggan (Peugeot) were the top Juniors.
On his first competitive outing in a World Rally Car, Carrigaline’s Brian O’Mahony set the fastest time on the spectator stage at the Corrin Event Centre where he was six tenths of a second faster than the Skoda Fabia S2000 of Robert Barrable.
O’Riordan (Subaru) was 2.1 seconds further behind in third. Tim McNulty lost time when he veered slightly off course and ended in 15th position.
Jennings and O’Riordan topped the time sheets on stages two and three respectively. Jennings, despite a major moment, revelled in the difficult and foggy conditions and moved into the lead – 2.3 seconds in front of O’Riordan, who endured a problem with the intercom system.
Although O’Mahony ended the stage in third place, he was penalised two minutes and 15 seconds for late arrival into the service control. Just as he was about to exit on to the main road at Rathcormac, his Subaru stuck in gear. Eventually, he was able to get going but the resultant penalty dropped him to ninth.
McNulty was third with Sam Moffett (Mitsubishi) occupying fourth spot. Like many others, the young Fermanagh ace switched off the spotlights as he reckoned he made more progress without them.
Barrett was off the road for a brief tenure on the second test. He was fifth from Alan Ring (Mitsubishi) and Robert Barrable, who lost time when the light pod came loose forcing them to stop and remove the unit.
Barrable was fastest on the second run over the spectator stage that transpired to the final stage of the night as the pair of stages in Glenville, that were shrouded in dense fog, were cancelled as a safety precaution.
Indeed, yesterday’s opening pair of tests at Mullaghanish and Mushera were also cancelled for the same reason while the start of S.S. 9, was delayed for thirty minutes to allow for the conditions to improve.
Despite nudging his Subaru against a fence and subsequently stalling the car, O’Riordan set the pace on the Stage 9 where McNulty had a slight excursion that dented the front spoiler.
Barrable retired his Skoda after noticing a crack in the sub-frame, Moffett also bowed out.
A slightly nervous O’Riordan went on to claim victory. “I’m delighted, I had a few stalls and other silly things, I think nerves got the better of me, but it’s great.”
McNulty was content to finish second and claim the laurels in the Irish Tarmac Championship. The Meath ace is the first ever driver to win the ITC and the Dunlop National series in the same season. Jennings slackened his pace to ensure victory in the Group N category of the ITC. Kevin Barrett (Subaru) and Alan Ring (Mitsubishi) followed.
The race for the World Rally Championship was blown wide open on Rally de France where Sebastien Ogier (Citroen) edged out Dani Sordo (MINI WRC). The pair, along with Petter Solberg, all enjoyed the lead role but the latter slipped to third with a puncture on Saturday’s second leg. Yesterday, Sordo trimmed Ogier’s advantage to just 4.9 seconds but Ogier went to win by 6.3 seconds. Initially, Ford’s Mikko Hirvonen was fourth, under team orders, Jari-Matti Latvala took a time penalty to enable his team mate maximise his WRC bid.
Later, Solberg was excluded – his car was 4kg’s under the minimum 1200kgs – and Hirvonen was promoted to third. With two rounds remaining, Sebastien Loeb, who retired with engine troubles and Hirvonen share the lead – three points ahead of Ogier. Irish pair, Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (MINI WRC) crashed out of fourth place on Saturday.
Waterford’s, Craig Breen was dealt a cruel blow in his bid to win the inaugural WRC Academy series when he was forced to retire with a broken driveshaft. There was joy for Northern Ireland’s, Alastair Fisher, who was promoted to victory after Spaniard, Yeray Lemes, was penalised five-minutes for a speeding offence.