Donegal rally driver Donagh Kelly is celebrating a double rally championship success after wrapping up the Irish Rally Championship at the weekend.
Kelly, and his co-driver Kevin Flanagan, who won the Triton Showers National Rally Championship last month, completed the double at the weekend by clinching the Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Rally Championship.
That championship win came on Saturday when the Kelly/ Flanagan combination claimed their ninth rally win in the Todds Leap Ulster Rally Championship in Enniskillen. And they did it in dramatic fashion after rally leaders Garry Jennings and Rory Kennedy, in a Subaru WRC, lost the rally on the last stage.
Donegal International winner Jennings was leading by 48 seconds when his Subaru went on fire within sight of the winning ramp.
It allowed Kelly and Flanagan, who only needed a top fifth place finish to clinch the Clonakility Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Championship to snatch the win.
“It’s good to win the double,” Donagh Kelly, told the Democrat/Peoples Press.
“It was only done twice before. Declan and Brian Boyle won it last year and Tim McNulty won it a number of years back.
“It was unfortunate for Garry and Rory the way this weekend rally ended. All we needed was to finish in the top five and we were happy enough in second place when the boys had their mishap. But it was good to win the rally, it’s our ninth win of the year.”
In all, the Donegal Town man competed in 11 rallies in the two championships. He won nine of them and was third in the other two.
“It has been a very good year and being honest it is way beyond my wildest dream when I started out at the beginning of the year,” Kelly said.
“It’s been good for our sponsors who backed us all year and it is also good for Michellin and the guys that look after the car, VSM in Derry. They do a terrific job and we had a full season running without any major problems and that is all down to the guys at VSM.
“Those guys and all the team around me all played a huge role in our success this year.”
Co-driver Kevin Flanagan sat alongside Donagh for all but one event. Conor Foley called the notes in the Rally of the Lakes, in Kerry.
With the double wrapped up, Donagh insists he will still do a couple more events before the end of the year.
“I will do two more rallies but I haven’t decided yet what two I’m going to do,” he said.
“As for next season, there are still a few more corners to get around before we start thinking of next year.”