BY MARTIN WALSH
FOR the fourth year in a row Donagh Kelly in a Ford Focus WRC has won the Quality Hotel West Cork Rally. The Donegal native is the first driver to win the rally four times – all in succession.
Kelly and co-driver Conor Foley led from the start yesterday and began today’s second leg of six stages with a 30.9 second advantage over the Fiesta R5 of Monaghan’s Sam Moffett and his Bandon co-driver Karl Atkinson.
Dubliner Robert Barrable debuting a Hyundai R5 and co-driven by Monaghan’s Damien Connolly were 14.1 seconds further behind in third.
Today, in wet conditions Kelly continued to dominate and stretched his lead beyond the 40-second mark after Stage 11.
The order remained the same until Stage 13 where Kelly’s advantage went over the minute mark due to punctures to the cars of Sam Moffett and Barrable. Moffett continued in the rally but a broken brake disc brought Barrable’s retirement.
The incidents elevated the Fiesta R5’s of Josh Moffett and Alastair Fisher into second and third respectively.
Kelly went on to take the record breaking fourth win by a margin of a minute and 45.9 seconds with Josh Moffett in second 22.5 seconds ahead of Alistair Fisher. Sam Moffett had to be content with fourth.
Local Dunmanway driver David Guest in a Mitsubishi won Group N and the Modified category was won by Donegal’s Kevin Eves (Toyota Corolla), who was co-driven by Macroom’s William Lynch.
Bandon’s Vincy McSweeney/Michael Kearney were the top West Cork crew, they were fourth in the National event.
Other West Cork winners included Cal McCarthy/Eamonn Dullea (Citroen C2R2), they won Class 2 finishing just two seconds ahead of Baltimore’s Stephen Carey (Fiesta R2) and his Bandon co-driver Ella Ryan.
Skibbereen siblings Adrian and Alison Levis (Honda Civic) won Class 11F.
Meanwhile, Keith Cronin, debuting an M-Sport Fiesta R5, had to be content with fourth place after suffering two punctures during the Border Counties Rally, the opening round of the British Rally Championship.