Callum Devine and Noel O’Sullivan’s start-to-finish victory on Sunday’s ALMC Rally means that both the main Triton Showers Motorsport Ireland National Rally Championship title protagonists now have three wins a piece. The sixth round of the Triton Showers-backed Motorsport Ireland National Rally Championship took place near the town of Oldcastle, County Meath on Sunday. Devine and O’Sullivan added another success to their Midland Moto Rally and Sligo Stages victories earlier in the season.
Sunday’s rally was run in mixed conditions and tyre choice was almost impossible on each loop – what worked on one stage most certainly did not work on another. Desi Henry and co-driver Shane Byrne were second for the entire rally. The Citroen C3 Rally 3 crew were a late entry for this event as they wanted mileage ahead of next weekend’s Ulster Rally. However, they lost time on stage six, and an off-road excursion led to a damaged radiator. Their mechanics repaired the car, and they did put Devine and O’Sullivan under a lot of pressure in the latter half of the rally. Just 2.6 seconds separated the two crews ahead of the final stage showdown but Devine held his nerve to not only take his third National win of the season. The final margin was just two seconds after nine classic former Castle Hellfire Rally stages. Moffett, now equipped with the newer version of the Hyundai i20 Rally 2 car that his brother Sam used earlier in the year, admitted he is having trouble adjusting to his new mount – particularly on wet roads.
“I was bad too in the wet half of the Cork ‘20’ too,” said the Monaghan-based driver– crucially he will take second place points as Henry was not registered. He also netted bonus points for winning the PowerStage. “Those PowerStage points could be very crucial come the end of the season,” said the Monaghan man.
Gareth MacHale and Brian Murphy were fourth in their right-hand-drive Volkswagen Polo. The Dubliner said this was his “reset rally” after a few accidents earlier in the season kept him away from rally action. “I felt I could carry a bit more speed, especially on the third stage, my notes were a bit too cautious,” said MacHale. He hopes to finish out the season by placing an entry for the Fastnet Rally. Daniel Cronin and Donnachadh Burke enjoyed one of their best runs of the season so far. A solid fifth place was a just reward for their efforts. He plans on entering the Clare Stages in September.
Kevin Gallagher Ryan Moore won’t the Modified Category in their Darrian T90 GTR to strengthen their hold on that category within the championship. Another category win in Clare next month should secure the title. They enjoyed a rally-long battle with runners-up Gary Kiernan and John McCabe in their Ford Escort to finish fifth. Kiernan, who eventually finished eighth was getting very close to Gallagher on the first and third stage of each loop – just 0.5 of a second was the time difference on some occasions but the Darrian driver always managed to eke out a seven or eight-second advantage on the middle test.
“It was so tricky, there were crests everywhere in the third stage, but I am very happy,” said Gallagher while Kieran admitted he just could not stay with his Darrian rival. “That last stage was absolutely flat out but he still took seven or eight seconds out of us,” said Kiernan.
Declan Boyle and co-driver Patrick Walsh were seventh in their Citroen C3 Rally 2. “I feel I am lacking confidence, that third stage did not click at all really,” said the Donegal man. His son Michael and co-driver Dermot McCaffrey were two places behind in their Volkswagen Polo.
The top ten was completed by Richard Moffett and Ger Conway in their Toyota Starlet. They felt that the car was too soft earlier in the day and stiffened up the suspension at the first service halt.
London-based Donegal man Paul McDevitt and his Laois-based co-driver Ray Fitzpatrick took a start-to-finish victory in the historic section of the rally in their Belga liveried Escort. The Junior rally was won by the all-Donegal crew of Patrick Doherty and Dylan Boyce in their Honda Civic 1.6VTi. It was another start-to-finish victory as they overcame their Donegal neighbours Seamus and Mickey Joe Browne by nearly three minutes.
Triton Showers Motorsport Ireland National Championship officials extended a vote of sympathy to championship official Declan Tumulty whose wife Lisa passed away on the eve of the event after a long illness.