The reward of maximum Dunlop National Rally Championship points was a consolation for Donal O'Donovan, as he emerged from the final stage of the Clonmel based Stonethrowers Rally. Having led the field for much of the event, he had missed out on...
The reward of maximum Dunlop National Rally Championship points was a consolation for Donal O'Donovan, as he emerged from the final stage of the Clonmel based Stonethrowers Rally. Having led the field for much of the event, he had missed out on overall victory by a scant eight seconds, the main prize going to local driver, Frank Meagher.
Meagher had been quickest on the opening stage, but on stage two both Eamonn Boland (Subaru Impreza WRC P2000) and O'Donovan moved ahead of him. O'Donovan then took the lead on the next stage, as Boland lost time with a spin, and Meagher punctured his Ford Escort WRC. O'Donovan (co-driven by Pat Lordan) was quickest on stages four and five, with Meagher fastest on six.
A cracked brake disc was discovered on the eircom net / Oki Systems Toyota Celica at the service halt before the final two stages. It was replaced, but luck was not with O'Donovan. He explained afterwards: "Usually there would be a fairly long road section between the control out of service and the start of the next stage, which would allow you to bed-in the new disc, but in this case the start of the stage was virtually alongside the service area."
Meagher took full advantage of O'Donovan's difficulties, and took 24 seconds out of his lead on the penultimate stage. The local man gained a further twelve seconds on the final stage, to finish eight ahead of O'Donovan, whose cause was not aided by an incorrect tyre choice. "We went for intermediates on that last one, and it turned out to be bone dry" he remarked.
As Meagher is not registered for points in the Dunlop series, O'Donovan takes the maximum twenty, his first top score this year. The result promotes him to fifth on the Championship leaderboard, just one point ahead of fellow West Cork driver, Denis Cronin.
Two rounds of the National Championship remain - the Clare Stages Rally on September 3rd and the Skibbereen Fastnet Rally on October 29th.
Follow the progress of the eircom net / Oki Systems Garda Rally Team at www.rallyteamireland.com