Donegal’s Donagh Kelly (Ford Focus WRC) and his Derry co-driver Kevin Flanagan won an exciting Abbeyleix Manor Hotel Rally, the opening round of the new Triton Showers National Rally Championship.
In wet and very difficult conditions they finished 38.7 seconds ahead of the Subaru WRC of Garry Jennings/Rory Kennedy with Niall Maguire/Enda Sherry (Subaru WRC) a further 25.4 seconds behind in third.
On the opening stage, Tullacommon near Borris in Ossory, Kelly set the best time and led Boyle by 13.9 sceonds with Darren Gass (Subaru WRC) 1.4 seconds further behind in third and 0.5 of a second ahead of the Subaru of Niall Maguire. Kevin Kelleher and Steve Wood completed the top six. Frank Kelly/Liam Brennan (Escort) and Mark Kane/Eugene Donnelly (Escort) both crashed out on the opening stage.
Boyle topped the time sheets through the second stage but Kelly arrived at the service park with a lead of 5.9 seconds and remarked on the copious amounts of standing water on the second stage.
Out on the repeat loop Boyle held the edge over Kelly. Closing to within a fraction of a second of his rival after the fourth stage Boyle moved into the lead on Stage 5 and by S.S. 6, he was the 12.3 seconds in front. Boyle reckoned that the final stage of the loop was quite tricky as Kelly remarked that he was taking no chances.
Having raised the suspension of his S12B Subaru WRC Garry Jennings improved his performance and slotted into fifth some ten seconds behind Maguire. Alan Ring completed the second loop in sixth position but retired with transmission woes. On S.S. 5 he had a major moment when his Subaru WRC got out of line.
A dramatic final loop brought many changes to the top ten. On S.S. 7, Boyle punctured and dropped to 25th overall before eventualy finishing 18th. Darren Gass retired his Subaru with a broken half shaft and Craig Breen’s fine drive ended on the same stage also with a broken half shaft.
Meanwhile, Kelly went on to claim victory and Jennings, who won the first ever Power Stage in Irish rallying took second – the three points gained for the Power Stage (where Boyle and Maguire were second and third respoectively) was enough to put him intop the lead of the Triton Showers series – a point ahead of Kelly.
1. D. Kelly/K. Flanagan (Ford Focus WRC) 1h. 00m. 12.7s.
2. G. Jennings/R. Kennedy (Subaru WRC) 1h. 00m. 51.4s
3. N. Maguire/E. Sherry (Subaru WRC) 1h. 01m. 16.8s.
4. K. Kelleher/R. Fitzpatrick (Subaru WRC) 1h. 01m. 41.7s.
5. S. Wood/K. Moriarty (Subaru WRC) 1h. 03m. 08.7s.
6. K. Barrett/S. Mullally (Subaru WRC) 1h. 03m. 57.7s.
7. C. Armstrong/J. Fulton (Ford Escort) 1h. 04m. 01.7s.
8. B. Brogan/D. McGettigan (Ford Escort) 1h. 04m. 52.7s.
9. B. Cumiskey/R. O’Kane (Subaru) 1h. 04m. 53.0s.
10. P. Barrett/D. Tumilty (Subaru N14) 1h. 04m. 56.3s.
Triton Showers National Rally Championship - Positions after Round 1:
1. G. Jennings (Subaru) 21 points.
2. D. Kelly (Ford Focus) 20 points
3. N. Maguire (Subaru) 17 points
4. K. Kelleher (Subaru) 14 points.
The next round of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship is the Midland Moto Rally, Roscommon on March 29.