DONEGAL cousins Declan and Brian Boyle (Subaru WRC) clinched the Dunlop National Rally Championship with a resounding victory in the Clonmel based Sepam Tipperary Stonethrowers Rally.
On what was their fifth win of the Dunlop season, they finished the nine stage rally a minute and 57 seconds ahead of Roy White/James O’Brien (MG S2000).
The Welsh crew of James Belton/Mark Glennerster (Subaru WRC) were 29 seconds further behind in third.
Wexford driver, Conor Moore, co-driven by Ella Ryan (Honda Civic) won the Junior category and the Historic section was won by Ellis Belton/Gwynfor Jones (Ford Escort).
On the opening stage just outside Clonmel, Cork driver, Daragh O’Riordan (Ford Fiesta WRC) set the pace albeit a fraction of a second ahead of the Dunlop title chasing Declan Boyle (Subaru WRC) with local ace, Roy White (MG S2000) occupying third from the Subaru duo of James Belton and Niall Maguire.
O’Riordan was also quickest on S.S. 2 to extend his lead to 2.2 seconds, the Cork driver completed fastest times on the loop of stages and arrived at the Clonmel service park with a 9.7 second lead over Boyle. There was major drama on S.S. 3, south of Fethard, when Niall Maguire crashed his Subaru out of the rally in slippery conditions as a heavy rain shower led to very slippery conditions.
Leader O’Riordan was happy with his pace while second placed Boyle endured a spin on S.S. 3 where the slippery conditions drew comment from all the drivers. White, 11.4 seconds further behind had an untroubled run through all three stages. Belton occupied fourth with Paddy McVeigh (Subaru WRC) completing the top five.
Sam Moffett led Group N but the Monaghan driver was fortunate that he didn’t lose too much time with an off road excursion on S.S. 3, he led his younger brother, Josh by 5.2 seconds with the latter remarking that it was taking him time to get in the groove. Eighth placed, Declan Gallagher (Toyota Starlet) led the Modified category albeit by four tenths of a second from Jonathan Pringle, who spun on S.S. 2 and then made some suspension adjustments prior to Stage 3.
Elsewhere, Kevin Barrett in his recently acquired Subaru S14 opined, “It’s a baptism of fire.” Barry Greer (Ford Fiesta R2) had gearbox woes and Desi Henry lost time after a gearbox mounting broke on the opening stage.
O’Riordan’s rally ended on the fourth stage after he slid off on gravel and broke a track control arm after the impact with the Clonmel scenery. Boyle took over at the top and with three fastest times, arrived at the final service halt with a lead of 38.1 seconds.
Second placed, White forgot to turn on the power steering pump at the start of Stage 5 but that was his only blemish on a fine performance through the second loop. Belton was slightly concerned with a read out from the dash that was sorted at the service halt while Paddy McVeigh (Subaru WRC) had a slight issue with the fuel pump.
However the Boyles blitzed the opposition on the final loop and with their fifth win of the season clinched the title. At the finish, they were a minute and 57 seconds ahead of the MG S2000 of Roy White/James O’Brien - for local driver, White, it was his best ever result on his home event.