Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan pulled off a sensational victory this weekend on their first visit to the West Cork Rally in their Northgate Vehicle Hire supported Ford Focus WRC. After setting fastest time on special stage one, the pair took a thirty three second victory on an event which had five former winners pitting their skills against the visiting crew.
“It’s been a perfect weekend. The plan was to attack from stage one, and really attack the classic stages such as Ring and Ardfield and that’s what we did. The car ran perfectly all weekend the VSM team did a great job. Kevin really kept the pressure on me, and made sure that I didn’t back off anywhere all weekend!” commented a delighted Donagh. The presence of an M-Sport engineer further helped to fine tune the Pirelli shod Focus over the weekend and before the event a faulty lambda sensor was replaced, which improved the cars response.
The closest threats to Donagh and Kevin were former winners Denis Cronin in his Subaru S11 and Daragh O’Riordan in his Fiesta WRC, with Denis eventually taking second place, and Daragh retiring from third on the final loop after a drive-shaft failure. Other former winners Robert Barrable and Melvyn Evans were early retirements, but nothing was going to stop the Northgate team this weekend as they excelled in these super stages. “The stages were fantastic, and very fast in places. There were some superb sections, and the dry weather made tyre choice easy for us. To get those fastest times on the classic tests was a big thing and a good boost for the confidence” said Donagh.
No rally win is easy, and it wasn’t without its moments. “We had a major moment this morning on the approach to a chicane. I left the braking too late, and we were clocked at 129mph at the 100 metre to go board. I don’t know how we got stopped enough to get round but we rubbed a couple of bales on the way through! ”
Next on the team’s agenda is the Circuit of Ireland at Easter and this test session couldn’t have gone any better. “It’s the first time that I have really driven the car, and it’s definitely been a step up in our game. West Cork was one of the best events I have ever had, and that extra push has brought a good result.For sure the Circuit will be different event, but now I can’t wait to have a good go at it”
Quality Hotels West Cork Rally Results
1st Donagh Kelly/ Kevin Flanagan Ford Focus WRC 1hr 48m 07.7s
2nd Denis Cronin/Coleman Hurley Subaru S11 WRC +33.7s
3rd Declan Gallagher/Ryan Moore Toyota Starlet +6m 12.8s
4th Phil Collins/ Derek Brannigan Ford Escort +6m59.3s
5th Wesley Patterson/Johnny Baird Ford Escort +7m15.2s
Issued by Andrew Bushe Promotions- www.andrewbushe.com
Picture- Please credit Paul McIlroy- TPM Photosport