After nine stages near Athenry in the Corrib Oil Galway International Rally, Alastair Fisher & Gordon Noble in a Fiesta R5 hold second overall and are top registered Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Championship crew overnight. They are currently 57.8 seconds behind rally leader Garry Jennings and eight seconds ahead of Roy White in while their closest championship rivals Sam Moffett & Karl Atkinson are in fourth place 28 seconds behind. Robert Barrable & Damien Connolly took some time to adjust to their new Fiesta R5 but started to get quicker as the day went on and are lying fifth overnight. Stephen Wright & Arthur Kierans in yet another Fiesta R5 are sixth and fourth registered crew while Joe McGonigle / Ciaran Geaney and Josh Moffett / James Fulton complete the top six championship registered crews.
It wasn’t a day without incident as a puncture on Stage 5 cost Josh Moffett over three minutes and put him well out of the running and a final stage excursion cost Brendan Cumiskeys Skoda R5 over four minutes. Retirements on the first day included Jonny Greer who retired on stage 9 with mechanical problems and Aaron McHale crashed out on Stage 8. Welsh visitors Tomas Davies and Eurig Davies also retired their Fiesta after collecting three punctures on the fifth stage. Both top Group N contenders William Mavitty and Stephen Hernon were forced out early on, but have re-joined under Rally 2 rules. William Creighton leads the R2 class as rival Marty Gallagher retired early on, but he has also re-joined under Rally 2.
The Modified Championship is looking very strong with Damien Tourish and Gary Kiernan having a tremendous battle at the top of the field, separated by only 24 seconds. Kevin Eves and Patrick McHugh are over a minute back in third and fourth respectively but are still going very well. Other championship runners to feature in the top ten are Richard Whelan and Eugene Meegan both in BMW 1Ms, while Jason McSweeney, Viv Hamill and Ed Murphy are also performing strongly. Retirements included the Escorts of Pat Donegan and Tom Flaherty on the opening stage.
The Historic rally sees a renewal of rivalries between the Escorts of Ernie Graham and Gareth Lloyd who are first and third overall in the category respectively with Keith McIvor sandwiched in between the duo. David Goose who performed well in Ireland last year is in sixth place but John Coyne was forced out with engine problems at the end of stage 2 in his Sunbeam Lotus. Others to go by the wayside included Frank Cunningham whose BMW was off the road on Stage 3 and fuel pump problems caused Andy Johnson to retire his Chevette after a great run.
The action restarts in the morning at 10am with six stages in all to be run during the day near the town of Tuam. Remember you can catch some of the action by following live streaming on selected stages at http://www.facebook.com/galwayinternationalrally/ and https://www.facebook.com/irishtarmac/.