Defending Dunlop National Rally champions, Declan Boyle/Brian Boyle (Subaru WRC) made the perfect start to this season’s campaign with a start to finish victory in the Hotel Ballina/Kennedy Motors Mayo Rally, the first event of the eight round series.
In slippery conditions, they finished two minutes and 21.8 seconds ahead of the MG ZR of Roy White/James O’Brien. Paddy McVeigh/Gary McElhinney (Subaru WRC) were a minute and 1.1 seconds further behind third.
The Group N category was won by Josh Moffett/John Rowan (Mitsubishi). The Longford/Cork duo of Tommy Doyle/Liam Moynihan (Renault Clio R3) were the top two wheel drive competitors. The Dunlop “Drive of the Day” award was won by Steve Wood/Keith Moriarty (Subaru WRC).
On an extremely slippery opening stage near Bunnyconnellan, Boyle was 4.9 seconds ahead of Hugh Hunter, who endured a half spin. Roy White (MG ZR) was third fastest – 10.9 seconds further adrift. Former triple Dunlop champion, Niall Maguire (Subaru WRC) languished down in fourteenth place almost 40 seconds off the lead due to intercom problems, tyre choice was also an issue. White caught up with Maguire’s Subaru about a mile from the finish but, due to the narrow road, the Monaghan man was unable to allow White overtake.
As the medical services were requested for a resident on the second stage, rally organisers re-routed to the third stage. There, Boyle posted another fastest time to move into a 16 second lead over Hunter. At the Ballina service park, leader Boyle remarked, “It is very slippery out there, I’m taking it nice and steady.” White remained in third – 21.4 seconds behind Hunter.
Daniel Barry in his R4 Mitsubishi was a fine fourth followed by Steve Wood in the ex-Darren Gass Subaru WRC, who clipped a rock and stalled on the third stage. Kevin Barrett (Subaru WRC) slotted into sixth.
Sam Moffett led the Group N category, he was seventh overall in a top ten completed by Paddy McVeigh (Subaru WRC), Josh Moffett, who spun his Mitsubishi on the opening stage and Aaron MacHale (Mitsubishi). Elsewhere, Trevor Bustard (Mitsubishi) had a major moment on the third stage and was lucky to escape unscathed. Niall Maguire withdrew at the service halt due to engine concerns.
With all the drivers remarking on the slippery conditions, Boyle fared best on the second loop of stages. His only indiscretion was on S.S. 5 when he stalled his Subaru at a junction. Hunter had a good stage time on S.S. 4 but his rally ended on the next stage when he retired with a sensor issue. Boyle arrived at the final service halt with a lead of one minute and 57.4 seconds. Second placed White opted for a cut slick but having two intermediate compound spare wheels, he changed the front wheels for the sixth stage.
Paddy McVeigh (Subaru) slotted into third despite a huge moment on S.S 6 when he hit a rock that was dragged on to the stage. Daniel Barry in his R4 Mitsubishi was fourth – 4.9 seconds behind McVeigh. Steve Wood and Kevin Barrett completed the top six, the latter had visibility issues when the screen fogged up on S.S. 6, he also experienced problems with sixth gear.
Josh Moffett moved into the lead of Group N when his brother Sam retired with engine troubles on S.S. 5. Donegal’s Trevor Bustard, who had a moment on S.S. 5, was 20.3 seconds behind in a top ten completed by Tommy Doyle (Renault Clio R3) and Raymond Conlon (Toyota Corolla). Aaron MacHale retired his Mitsubishi with fuel pump troubles.
Kevin Barrett withdrew his Subaru at the final service halt due to problems with sixth gear.
On the final loop of three stages, Boyle survived a heart stopping moment on the penultimate stage and went on to take victory and maximum Dunlop points. White and McVeigh completed the top three. Wood in the ex-Darren Gass Subaru WRC was fourth from Daniel Barry (Mitsubishi), who won the R4 category and Group N winner, Josh Moffett, who finished sixth overall.
1. D. Boyle/B. Boyle (Subaru WRC S12B) 1h. 00m. 23.5s.
2. R. White/J. O’Brien (MG ZR S2400) 1h. 02m. 45.3s
3. P. McVeigh/G. McElhinney (Subaru WRC) 1h.03m. 46.4s
4. S. Wood/K. Moriarty (Subaru WRC) 1h. 04m. 02.4s
5. D. Barry/G. Noble (Mitsubishi EvoX) 1h. 04m. 37.1s.
6. J. Moffett/J. Rowan (Mitsubishi EvoIX) 1h. 05m. 27.2s
7. T. Bustard/J. McCafferty (Mitsubishi EvoIX) 1h. 06. 13.8s.
8. T. Doyle/L. Moynihan (Renault Clio R3) 1h. 06m. 20.6s
9. R. Conlon/D. McCague (Toyota Corolla) 1h. 06m. 21.5s
10. D. Leonard/D. Mullen (Mitsubishi)1h. 06m. 55.0s.
Dunlop National Rally Championship (Provisional Positions after Round 1): 1. D. Boyle 20pts; 2. R. White 18pts; 3. P. McVeigh 16 pts; 4. S. Wood 14pts.