BY MARTIN WALSH
Waterford’s Craig Breen and his Killarney co-driver Paul Nagle in a Fiesta R5 have won the Clonakilty Park Hotel West Cork Rally in Clonakilty.
The 15-stage event dovetailed as rounds of the Irish Tarmac and British Rally Championships. They finished 22.2 seconds ahead of the Fiesta R5 of Fermanagh’s Alastair Fisher and co-driver Gordon Noble. Welsh driver Tom Cave and his co-driver James Morgan (Hyundai i20 R5) were 15.1 seconds further behind in third. They took top points in the British Rally Championship, 15.1 seconds further behind.
Dunmanway’s David Guest (Skoda Fabia S2000) was the top local driver, co-driven by Mitchelstown’s Jonathan McGrath. They finished thirteenth overall.
Wind and rain paved the way for Saturday morning’s opening stage at Ring where the Fiesta R5 of Monaghan’s Josh Moffett was quickest. Within a stage Breen took control and as the rain and wind ceased, he set a string of fastest times. By Stage 4 he was 11.9 second clear of Moffett with Fisher three seconds further behind. On the afternoon stages Breen continued to set the pace. By Stage 6 and untroubled he was 18.6 seconds ahead of Fisher.
At the end of the day’s nine stages Breen held a 26.8 second advantage over Fisher with Edwards the top British Championship contender in third, 6.8 seconds ahead of the Hyundai Tom Cave followed by the Fiesta of Sam Moffett with Derry’s Callum Devine holding sixth. Elsewhere, Robert Barrable in seventh admitted he needed more seat time while Josh Moffett dropped second to eighth after breaking the prop shaft off the start line of Stage 6. Marty McCormack in Skoda Fabia and the Fiesta Jonny Greer completed the overnight top ten in Clonakilty.
On Sunday, in glorious sunshine Breen powered to victory; his only mishap was a spin on Stage 13. Fisher netted second with Cave winning the race for third. Fourth placed Edwards was followed home by the Fiesta’s of Sam Moffett and Callum Devine with Josh Moffett finishing seventh from the Hyundai of Robert Barrable.
In the Modified category, victory went to former four time World Championship runner-up Mikko Hirvonen in a Mk. 2 Escort after long time leader Gary Kiernan retired on the final loop with a blown engine. Dunmanway’s Conor McCarthy (Mitsubishi) and his Dripsey co-driver Darren O’Brien took third in same category.