The second round of the Dunlop National Rally Championship, the Millennium Autos Galway Spring Rally, saw near neighbours Mayo come to the fore in the 8 Special Stage event held in the Portumna region. Louisburgh born Austin McHale (Toyota Corolla...
The second round of the Dunlop National Rally Championship, the Millennium Autos Galway Spring Rally, saw near neighbours Mayo come to the fore in the 8 Special Stage event held in the Portumna region. Louisburgh born Austin McHale (Toyota Corolla WRC) took victory by 17 seconds from Donegal's Paul Harris (Subaru Impreza) with Daniel Docherty (Subaru Impreza) also from Donegal, finishing third.
Five-time Tarmac champion, McHale, now resident in Rathcoole, County Dublin, used the rally to test the new driving position of this World Rally specification Toyota Corolla which was converted from left to right hand drive over the winter break. With maximum points scored on the two rounds held to date, Paul Harris now leads the championship on 40 points.
James McGreal (Foxford) and John Duffy (Crossmolina) continued the successful weekend for the 'red and green' county with a dominant Class 14 win in a Nissan Sunny GTi-R. The top 60 finish for James extends his lead in Class and puts the Garage owner and rally car preparation specialist on firm footing for national honours.
Ballyhaunis team of Rory O'Connor and Francis Kenny remain inside the Top 10 table in the overall classification despite their lowly 56th position and 2nd in Class 13. After an impressive start, the Escort Cosworth crew was up to 6th place and looking good to follow up their successful 7th in the Mayo Rally. Alas, a minor excursion into the Galway scenery put paid to their chances, resulting in a free fall down the leaderboard.
Kiltimagh brothers Paul and Brian Cleary came home just behind their fellow Mayo & District Motorsport Club members McGreal and Duffy with 62nd overall and 6th in Class 5. As some of their main rivals did not register for the National Championship, 7 points for 3rd place went their way to leave the Nissan Dealers 2nd in Class on the Dunlop league table.
Misfortune struck the other Ballyhaunis entries also with brothers Jack and Adrian Lannon crashing out early in their respective Peugeot 205 GTi and Subaru Impreza. Among the non-starters was Bekan's Sean McHugh, a victim of over-subscribed entry list despite having secured sponsorship from Corrib Oil.
The next round of the championship for the Mayo competitors is the Circuit of Kerry Stages Rally on the 9th April.