For Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan in the Northgate Vehicle Hire Ford Focus WRC, that long awaited Irish Tarmac Championship round victory, slipped away on the penultimate stage of the Killarney Rally of the Lakes last weekend. On the Fuhiry stage, on the Kerry/Cork border the Focus ended up parked on its roof, both occupants fine, but that long awaited Irish Tarmac round victory had slipped away.
“It was a silly one” commented Donagh. “On a tight gravelly left-hander we ran a little bit wide, and got a wheel in the verge. It was third gear, not big speed, and I powered on down the verge to get back out, but then there was a big hole. The car fell into it, and then flipped on its roof. It was a nothing accident, but it’s my fault I let it slip away. Probably if I had of been pushing flat-out it wouldn’t have happened, but that’s the way it goes.” Going into that penultimate test Donagh had a 25.8 second lead over Sam Moffett in his Fiesta and everything looked in hand, despite the Monaghan driver chipping away a few seconds on the previous two stages.
“We backed off too much on stage 12-Borlin, and he took 18 seconds off us, but we stemmed that on the next Lough Allua test, where he only took 5 seconds, and we were happy at that pace. There’s no point in saying “if” or “but” though. Sam was there when I made the mistake and he deserves the win.” But that was far from the full story for the GMG Asset Management backed team, as they were having superb run, on the superb Killarney stages. Right from the off-set they were keeping Donegal rival’s Declan and Brian Boyle in check, and after day one Boyle lead by just 7.9 seconds. The Clonakilty Black Pudding Irish Tarmac Rally Championship leader however, went off the road and out of the rally on third stage of day two- Lough Allua as despite the frantic racing at the front, just 9.8 seconds separated the leader’s going into this test.
Now Donagh and Kevin were in front, and the West Cork winners, had once again upped their performance. ”One thing that we were happy about was our performance. Declan didn’t get away from us this time, even after we dropped a few seconds on the first stage, we got back. We were more consistently fast and everything was to play for before he retired. The Pirelli tyres and the car worked well once again.” Round four is Donagh’s home International in Donegal in June, and the Focus has been stripped by the VSM Sport team. “The damage isn’t bad, it’s really cosmetic as there was no real speed in it, but for sure it will take a few pound to fix it all! Another problem we had at the weekend too was a slight oil-leak, and we think the engine block is cracked so we have to sort that. I don’t feel too bad about getting in and driving again, as it wasn’t a scary or high-speed accident, so that aspect should be fine. It’s just a matter of getting everything right for Donegal now.”
All is still wide open in the Irish Tarmac Championship to with Donagh still second in the driver’s points: 1st- Declan Boyle (54), 2nd – Donagh Kelly (33), 3rd – Josh Moffett (32.5), 4th – Sam Moffett (31), 5th – Garry Jennings (25).
Issued by Andrew Bushe promotions-www.andrewbushe.com