UNOFFICIAL LEADERBOARD AFTER STAGE 9 - LAST STAGE 1st (1) Niall Maguire/Paul McLaughlin (Impreza WRC) 1.15.55 2nd (4) Patrick Elliott/Sean Moriarty (Impreza) 1.18.51 3rd (9) Denis Cronin/Helen O'Sullivan (BMW M3) 1.19.07 4th (8) Hugh Dunne/Derek...
UNOFFICIAL LEADERBOARD AFTER STAGE 9 - LAST STAGE
1st (1) Niall Maguire/Paul McLaughlin (Impreza WRC) 1.15.55
2nd (4) Patrick Elliott/Sean Moriarty (Impreza) 1.18.51
3rd (9) Denis Cronin/Helen O'Sullivan (BMW M3) 1.19.07
4th (8) Hugh Dunne/Derek Brannigan (Impreza WRC) 1.19.23
5th (3) Ollie O'Donovan/David Moynihan (Hyundai WRC) 1.20.04
6th (24) James & Paul McCann (Esc.Cos) 1.21.00
7th (11) Sean Gallagher/Liam Costello (Escort Cos) 1.21.05
8th (25) Stephen Bird/Dominic Downey (Escort) 1.22.20
Niall Maguire, co-driven by Paul McLaughlin, was the very convincing winner of this Clare Stages Rally. Niall and Paul once again demonstrated why they are this year's Dunlop National Champions, by being fastest on every stage today. Niall climbed from his Subaru with a very broad grin on his face, and said "Classic stages, a brilliant day, and Armagh have won the football - I've won a bet!" Co-driver Paul McLaughlin commented "We had a great run, just one moment on the first stage, a 1 left which we should have had as a 3 left in the pace notes!" Niall went on to say "Although I've won the championship I felt it would be good to finish the rounds, for Paul's sake as well, and I'll probably go on and do Skibbereen". Second placed Patrick Elliott told us "A great day, although on that last loop of stages the clutch started to go and I was more than pleased to get through. It was great to finish". Denis Cronin once again drove brilliantly to take 3rd place and best 2 wheel drive car. Denis saying "We went well towards the end but it would be nice to have power steering on the BMW, the arms are hanging off me!" Hugh Dunne set some really good times during the day, but several over-shoots denied him a podium place. Similarly, Ollie O'Donovan had a few problems, both with his own driving and also a small turbo problem which kept him away from the top slots. Ollie said "My biggest problems I couldn't position the car on the narrow stuff at high speed, I was up and down a few hedges".
Last minute retirements included - Ed Synan, who had been in the top 10 and Gerard McKiernan who had been fighting for the gpN lead with Martin Brady. David Armstrong was another to disappear over the last couple of tests.
Oliver Stanley had been fighting for the lead of today's Ford Ireland Focus Championship part of the rally but he retired on the last stage, Colm Murphy has won from Cathal O'Reilly with Gabriel Martin 3rd. Unofficially, Colm Murphy and Oliver Stanley tie for the points lead in the series. Drivers who had problems towards the end of the rally included - Sean Gallagher who struggled through the last few stages with his front differential in tatters. Stephen Bird looks to have won cl.12. James McCann would appear to have won cl.15. John O''ullivan cl.13 --all provisional. Finally for now, many thanks to Dermot Kelleher and all at Clare MC for another terrific weekend's rallying.