Devine secures second Donegal win after Edwards’ demise

Samdec Security International ITRC

After three intense days of Irish Tarmac action, Callum Devine and Noel O’Sullivan kept their cool to secure a second successive Donegal International Rally victory.

The reigning Irish Tarmac Rally Champions made a steady start to the 20-stage classic, setting the fifth-fastest time on Donegal’s Malin Head opener.

Driving a Skoda Fabia Rally2 for the first time, Devine’s main intention was to stay within reach of early pacesetters Matt Edwards and Keith Cronin.

When championship leader Cronin retired from top spot with suspension damage picked up from a stone wall collision on stage five, Donegal looked set to be a straight fight between Edwards and Devine.

The two Irish Tarmac rivals traded times throughout Saturday’s eight stages with Edwards holding onto a 16.2-second overnight lead.

A down-on-power Ford Fiesta Rally2 cost Edwards some time at the start of Sunday’s opener. Quick-thinking Edwards made an effective tweak to get his car back up to speed after the first kilometre but lost 3.1 seconds to Devine’s stage-winning Skoda.

Devine was putting the pressure on and before he knew it a second Donegal title was within his grasp. The constant corners of Atlantic Drive caught out Edwards when he misread a pacenote, ran wide, and damaged his Fiesta’s front-left suspension.

Unbelievably the three-time British Rally Champion kept going, losing a minute to his rivals before making impromptu repairs ahead of the next Fanad Head test.

Edwards’ never-say-die attitude ensured he stayed within the top four heading into Donegal’s final service halt.

A 37.5-second lead for Devine dissipated on Donegal’s penultimate Gartan test when he spun on an innocuous hairpin. Suddenly Meirion Evans’ Toyota Yaris Rally2 was only 20.3 seconds adrift and waiting to pounce on any further mistakes.

Devine kept his emotions in check, however, to make a smooth sailing through the 19.9 kilometres of Fanad Head, recording a 17.4-second Donegal International Rally victory that propels him back up the 2024 Irish Tarmac Rally Championship’s pecking order.

A runner-up finish for Evans, and stand-in co-driver Ger Conway, was an impressive achievement for the Yaris’s ITRC debut. Evans’ best Donegal result to-date was made even more encouraging considering he finished day one 55.8 seconds adrift.

Four stage wins highlighted David Kelly’s supreme speed in his home county as he secured a maiden podium finish on an Irish Tarmac event. Kelly and trusty co-driver Dean O’Sullivan have shown big improvements this year and will be delighted with their result nine seconds behind Evans.

Kelly, Evans, and Josh Moffett battled hard for positions throughout the rally with their fourth-place battle turning into a race for third when Cathan McCourt crashed out on Sunday’s opening test.

Moffett’s assault on a second Donegal International Rally win never really got going after suffering from pop-off valve and power steering issues on Friday. The Citroen C3 Rally3 pilot swapped places with Kelly on Saturday, picking up a fastest time in the process but couldn’t match the 28-year-old’s pace on Sunday.

A spin on Gartan for Edwards added insult to injury after his earlier drama on Sunday afternoon and dropped him 4.8 seconds behind Moffett with one stage remaining.

Knowing the value of every Irish Tarmac point, Edwards attacked Donegal’s Fanad Head finale as if Moffett’s fourth position was first.

The Welshman completed Fanad 7.7 seconds faster than anyone else, moving ahead of Moffett to seal a fourth-placed finish – some consolation to an otherwise disheartening final day.

Michael Boyle completed Donegal’s top six, fighting back from a time-sapping puncture on Lough Keel. Boyle benefitted from his father Declan’s gearbox-inflicted retirement from sixth on stage 18 before jumping ahead of Garry Jennings on Fanad Head.

Top five standings

1 Devine / O’Sullivan (Skoda Fabia Rally2) 2:18:18.9s
2 Evans / Conway (Toyota Yaris Rally2) +17.4s
3 Kelly / O’Sullivan (Volkswagen Polo R5) +26.4
4 Edwards / Moynihan (Ford Fiesta Rally2) +36.8
5 Moffett / Hayes (Citroen C3 Rally2) +48.8


Ryan MacHugh and Declan Boyle cruised through Sunday’s Gartan, Atlantic Drive, and Fanad Head stages to seal a 17-second victory in the Rally4 class.

MacHugh reigned supreme on Saturday’s eight stages, extending a 5.7-second lead to an imposing 58.8-second advantage.

Ioan Lloyd and Sion Williams had been in the mix ahead of Saturday’s Knockalla opener but his Peugeot 208 Rally4 caught fire on the famous coastal classic. A split in the car’s exhaust was to blame – Lloyd and Williams were thankfully unhurt.

Second-placed Kyle McBride struck Armco on Saturday morning and fell behind fellow Peugeot pilot Keelan Grogan. The duo fought tooth-and-nail for Rally4’s runner-up spot with McBride finally overturning the 7.7-second deficit on Sunday and finishing 19.2 seconds ahead of Grogan after Donegal’s 20 stages.

Matthew Boyle and Casey Jay Coleman completed the class’s top five positions.

Rally4 results

1 MacHugh / Boyle (Ford Fiesta Rally4) 2:31:36.3s
2 McBride / Mullen (Peugeot 208 Rally4) +17.0s
3 Grogan / Sherlock (208) +36.2
4 Boyle / Byrne (208) +4:05.0
5 Coleman / Moore (208) +4:16.5

McEvoy Motorsport Modified ITRC

Declan Gallagher started Donegal’s final day with a slender one-second lead over Kevin Gallagher’s eye-catching Darrian.

The Darrian quickly threw down the gauntlet on Gartan and Atlantic Drive, moving ahead of Declan Gallagher’s Toyota Starlet by 17.3 seconds. Just when it looked like Kevin Gallagher and Ryan Moore would sneak their third Donegal National victory in a row, their Darrian lay down on Fanad Head. A broken wire was diagnosed as the root cause but the 25-minute time loss was a gutting blow for the Donegal crew.

Now holding a three-minute lead, Declan Gallagher’s all-but-certain modified win was put in jeopardy when smoke billowed from his Starlet at the start of Donegal’s final loop of stages. Starved of oil his Starlet somehow limped through Fanad Head to ensure Gallagher achieved his first ever Donegal National Rally win.

Gary McPhillips and Paul Sheridan clinched second, over two and a half minutes behind Gallagher and John McCarthy.

Third in the national section went to David Moffett and Martin Connelly.

McEvoy Motorsport Modified ITRC results

1 Gallagher / McCarthy (Toyota Starlet) 2:24:18.5s
2 McPhillips / Sheridan (Ford Escort Mk2) +2:45.9s
3 Moffett / Connelly (Escort) +3:15.6
4 Bogie / Rowan (Escort) +3:18.2
5 Harvey / Doherty (Escort) +3:51.6

Sherwood Engines Historic ITRC

Meirion Evans and Anthony O’Sullivan sealed a 48.5-second win in Donegal’s historic section. The Sherwood Engines Historic ITRC crew was promoted to first after the post-event disqualification of Tommy O’Connell’s Ford Escort RS1800.

Defending winners Michael McDaid and Declan Casey set the pace on Saturday, building a 16.4-second lead over O’Connell after the eight stages.

A collision with a round-bale chicane on Sunday’s opening Gartan test ended McDaid’s hopes of another Donegal success and handed the historic mantle to Evans.

A rapid fastest time on stage 17, Fanad Head, catapulted John O’Donnell’s BMW M3 into second, just ahead of championship leader Tomas Davies.

O’Donnell stretched out his advantage over Davies to 12.8 seconds on the next Gartan test to clinch the runner-up spot.

Ray Breen claimed fourth in his Subaru Legacy with Hugh McQuaid completing the top five.

Sherwood Engines Historic ITRC results

1 Evans / O’Sullivan (Ford Escort RS1800) 1:47:20.9s
2 O’Donnell / Friel (BMW M3) +48.5s
3 Davies / Davies (Escort RS1800) +1:01.3
4 Breen / Morrissey (Subaru Legacy) +1:24.6
5 McQuaid / Byrne (Escort RS1800) +3:09.1

Paul Browne Plant Hire & Civil Engineering Junior ITRC

Jason Wilkinson and Ciaran McGinley recorded an eight-second Junior win ahead of Ronan Dorrian’s similar Honda Civic.

Jason Tease finished third, 2.9 seconds ahead of Patrick Doherty.

Paul Browne Plant Hire & Civil Engineering Junior ITRC results

1 Wilkinson / McGinley (Honda Civic) 50:29.3s
2 Dorrian / Browne (Civic) +8.0s
3 Tease / Megee (Civic) +44.0
4 Doherty / Boyce (Civic) +46.9
5 Baskin / Moore (Civic) +1:22.7

Donegal International Rally results

Photo by D Harrigan Images