Donegal’s Declan and Brian Boyle (Subaru WRC) returned to winning ways with a comfortable victory in the Hotel Kilmore Cavan Rally, the third round of the Dunlop National Rally Championship. After the day’s nine stages, they were a minute and 13.9 seconds ahead of the Toyota Corolla WRC of Eugene Donnelly/Paddy Toner with the overseas crew of James Belton/Mark Glennerster (Subaru WRC) securing third, their best ever finish in a round of the Dunlop series.
The Dunlop “Drive of the Day” award was won by Clonmel’s, Roy White and his Cork co-driver, James O’Brien, they brought their MG S2000 home in fifth place.
On the opening stage, Clanaphilip, Boyle set the pace and finished the 9.9 mile stage with an 8.6 second lead over Donnelly with Donagh Kelly (Subaru WRC) a further 7.2 seconds behind in third. Roy White (MG S2000) held fourth position followed by the Subaru WRC’s of James Belton and Niall Maguire. Seamus Leonard (Subaru) retired with clutch troubles. Meanwhile, Declan Gallagher (Toyota Starlet) was the top driver in the rear wheel drive category and Josh Moffett (Mitsubishi) was the Group N pacesetter. Kelly was quickest through the second stage and Boyle held the edge on the final stage of the opening loop.
At the Cavan service halt, Boyle expressed satisfaction with his pace, he opined that the opening stage was somewhat greasy - especially where there was shiny tar, it was as similar situation for part of the third stage, which was also quite gravelly. Donnelly, 10.6 seconds behind in second, reckoned that he had a slow start but pushed hard through the remaining stages. The Derry ace was just two tenths of a second ahead of Donegal’s, Donagh Kelly, who spun on the opening test and was concerned about the clutch through the remaining stages.
Welsh driver, James Belton occupied fourth, he spun his Subaru WRC into a hedge on the opening stage and lost some 20 seconds. Having overshot a junction on the first stage, Niall Maguire clawed his way back to fifth, the triple national champion was also concerned about fluid leaking from a rear wheel. Fourth after the opening stage, Clonmel’s, Roy White (MG S2000) was finding the return to a manual gear change quite difficult, he was sixth followed by the Group N pair of Eugene Meegan and Sam Moffett. Meegan was untroubled but Moffett was eager to get into the service halt to sort his Mitsubishi, unfortunately, he was forced to retire with gearbox issues.
Another Group N contender, Stephen Wright (Mitsubishi) was ninth, he lost time when he spun on the third stage. Russell Woods (Escort) completed the top ten, he also led the two-wheel drive category, albeit a tenth of a second ahead of Rodney Wilton, who was eleventh. Elsewhere, Josh Moffett lost some twenty seconds on S.S. 2 - on the last corner of the stage, he slid his Mitsubishi into a field.
On the first stage of the second loop, Boyle took control, he also reigned supreme on the fifth and sixth stages and duly arrived at the final service halt with a 56.9 second advantage. He remarked: “I had a good run on stage four but I was careful on Stage 6 due to the gravel on the stage.”
Donnelly, who had lost second spot to Kelly after S.S. 5, regained the position when Kelly clipped a rock and punctured on S.S. 6. He commented: “There is no more in this Corolla, nothing left.”
Although Kelly finished S.S. 6, he lost over eleven minutes and decided to retire at the final service. “I slid on some gravel and then clipped a rock that punctured the front left wheel. I drove for a while but as I was holding up a few drivers, I pulled over and changed the wheel.”
Meanwhile, Belton and Maguire tussled for third, the former held a 4.3 second lead in that particular battle. Having raised his MG S2000, Roy White felt the handling of the car was much improved, he was fifth. Sixth placed Eugene Meegan led the Group N category although his lost time after a gearbox mounting broke on the fourth stage, he was 10.2 seconds ahead of Stephen Wright, who was eighth overall. Top rear wheel drive competitor, Rodney Wilton (Escort) was sandwiched between the showroom pair. The final two places in the top ten were annexed by Josh Moffett and Russell Woods. Moffett spun on S.S. 6; Woods trailed Wilton by 21.8 seconds.
Superior through the final loop, Boyle took a comfortable victory with second placed Donnelly a minute and 13.9 seconds behind. Belton managed to fend off the challenge from Maguire to clinch his best ever finish in a round of the Dunlop series, the margin between them at the finish was 12.6 seconds. White took another top six finish and along with co-driver, James O’Brien were awarded the Dunlop “Drive of the Day” award.
In the race Group N supremacy, Stephen Wright (Mitsubishi) took the laurels and while local hero, Rodney Wilton (Escort) was the top rear wheel drive competitor.
Garry Jennings, Mel Evans and Colm Murphy were amongst the non-starters.
1. D. Boyle/B. Boyle (Subaru WRC) 1h. 16m. 04.1s.
2. E. Donnelly/P. Toner (Toyota Corolla WRC) 1h. 17m. 18.1s.
3. J. Belton/M. Glennerster (Subaru WRC) 1h. 18m. 33.1s.
4. N. Maguire/E. Sherry (Subaru WRC) 1h. 18m. 45.7s.
5. R. White/J. O’Brien (MG S2000) 1h. 19m. 34.3s.
6. S. Wright/S. Wright (Mitsubishi) 1h. 21m. 14.6s.
7. R. Wilton/C. McMahon (Ford Escort) 1h. 21m.15.7s.
8. E. Meegan/J. Traynor (Mitsubishi) 1h. 21m. 36.1s.
9. J. Moffett/J. Rowan (Mitsubishi) 1h. 22m. 03.1s.
10. P. Kiernan/J. McCarville (Ford Escort) 1h. 22m. 3.8s.
Dunlop National Rally Championship (Provisional Positions after Round 3): 1. D. Boyle 52pts; 2. N. Maguire 48pts; 3. J. Belton 44pts; 4. R. White 40pts.
Next round: Round 4: Raven’s Rock Rally, Waterford, June 30th.