Cavan driver Gary Keirnan only decided on Friday that he was going to place an entry for Kerry Motor Club’s Banna Beach Resort Kerry Winter Rally but that did not stop him scoring a start-to-finish victory.
Kerinan and co-driver Keith Moriarty, from Abbeyfeale, were using the north-Kerry based event as a high speed test ahead of next month’s Rentokil Initial Killarney Historic rally and must surely start as one of the modified section’s favourites following Sunday’s domination.
The Escort crew were 11 second quicker than last year’s winners Daniel Cronin and Shane Buckley over the opening 17km stage near Abbeydorney. After two stages they were a further 23 seconds to the good and by this stage it was a matter of who could finish second.
Cronin’s challenge ended at the start of stage four when a wheel bearing failed in his new Mitsubishi Lance E10. Clare driver Padraig Egan looked certain to take over the second spot on the podium but apuncture on the same stage ended his hopes.
This left Shane Maguire as the comfortable second placed driver , a result that earned him the overall Top Part West Coast championship for a third year in a row.
The top all Kerry Motor Club crew went to Tom Relihan and Maurice McElligott in their Ford Escort MK1. They were fourth after stage one but kept the pressure on to record a well-deserved podium and were awarded the coveted Donal O’Flaherty memorial trophy for their efforts.
Tim Enright was just four seconds behind in fourth but unfortunately it was not enough to take the West Coast title from Maguire.
Mick Quinn and Tony Healy, event winners in 2013, were fifth and winners of Class 14 after a trouble-free run. Husband and wife team Eoin and Brenda Duffin were second in this class in a similar Escort.
Charlie Hickey from Killarney had John McCarthy on pace note duty for the first time and they were third in that class in another Escort.
Tadgh O’Sullivan and Eoin O’leary were third in class 13.
Father and daughter crew, Jason and Meegan Costelloe wonclass 12 R on Meegan’s first rally.
Ger O’Brien and John Liston won the best non-placed Kerry Motor Club crew by bringing his Escort home in 18th place.
Mike and Paddy Costello were second in Class 12 R while Kevin O’Sullivan and Sean Nolan were third.
Darren Young and Sean Walsh were also third in their class in a Honda Civic, just ahead of Pat Slattery and Sean Campbell. Jakes Kelly was third in his class on his first run in a hired Subaru. Steven and Adrian O’Connor won the junior rally from Pa Naughton and John Cahill, both crews in Civics.
Father and son team Mike and Colin Nelligan were fifth in class 11 in what was Colin’s first rally. Tommy O’Sullivana and Kevin Rohan won class two in a newly acquired Ford Focus. Mike Kenny and Gene Stack won class 12.
Kerry Auto Solo champion Daniel Chung marked his fourth in the junior section. Local co-driver Tony McCarthy guided James Hall to victory in the historic section. David Griffin and David Leslie were third in the historic element marking Griffin’s debut behind the wheel.
Long-serving club member and co-driver Stephen O’Connell was presented with the Spirit of the Rally award for his dedication to the club and in particular the running of the 2017 Winter Rally.