After the first day’s action in the Circuit of Ireland, the second round of the Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Rally Championship, its Garry Jennings and Rory Kennedy in their Subaru Impreza WRC who lie in pole position to collect maximum championship points. They lead the national section of the event after 10 tough stages by a margin of 23.8 seconds from Declan and Brian Boyle also in a Subaru Impreza WRC. The Donegal cousins got off to an uncharacteristic slow start but had got much quicker as the day went on as they start to exert some pressure on Jennings. Donagh Kelly & Kevin Flanagan are currently third overall in their Focus WRC and in the early stages it looked as though their West Cork winning form could be set to continue. However a huge spin on stage 5 cost them over 20 seconds and they are currently 35 seconds off the lead overnight. Eugene Donnelly & Paul Kiely in the Mini WRC have also lost time over the course of the day with two costly spins to leave them in fourth place at the end of the first day.
Sam Moffett & James O’Reilly are competing in the International section of the event which is part of the ERC and their total time in the Fiesta RRC leaves them fifth among the Tarmac Championship contenders overnight. Sam’s brother Jos, with John Rowan co-driving were also competing on the International section and had the honour of running first on the road all day and they are in sixth place when the times of the two sections are combined. The dry fast stages have certainly taken their toll with a number of retirements, and some cars will need some work to get back running properly tomorrow. Steve Simpson damaged his front differential early on and had to retire is Subaru Impreza WRC, while the Group N category lost Aaron McHale after an accident on stage 2 in his Lancer, while Stephen McCann was forced to retire his Lancer with brake failure on the third stage. Kieron Graffin is currently running very well and in poised to take top group N points in his Lancer.
In the Modified Championship Declan Gallagher is as usual in a class of his own in the Toyota Starlet and looking good to claim his third set of maximum points in a row. His task has been made somewhat more straightforward with the retirement of Wesley Patterson’s Escort due to a broken half shaft, although he is expected to re-join tomorrow under Rally 2 rules. Frank Kelly lost a lot of time after an overshoot on stage 6 and then a broken axle after a huge jump on stage 7, Hamilton’s Folly, but is still running. There is also a very big battle going on between the Historic Championship contenders, with the MK1 Escort of Denis Moynihan / Eamon Hayes just 3.3 seconds ahead of the Mk2 Escort of Ernie & Will Graham. Drew Wylie (Escort) had also been in the running but he and the Chevette of Andy Johnson as well as the Porsche 911 of Tony Robinson have been forced to retire.
With 8 more stages to come on day two including a monstrous 30km stage called Brontes Homeland which will be run twice, there is still a lot of rallying to be done before the conclusion tomorrow evening at 5pm. Remember you can keep up to date with all of the happenings on our website www.irishtarmac.com, Facebook page (Irish Tarmac Championship), Twitter (@IrishTarmacTROA) and of course the Smartphone App (Irish Tarmac Rally Championship) which is free to download for both Android and iOS devices.
TROA Press & Media Officer,
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