Declan Boyle holds the overnight lead after a drama-filled opening day of the 2019 Joule Donegal International Rally.
The 2014 winner Boyle, with Brian Boyle on the notes, leads by 0.7 seconds from Craig Breen.
Donagh Kelly, one of the leading contenders, is out of contention after crashing out on Special Stage 3.
A broken prop shaft on the on Kelly’s WRC Ford Focus meant he didn’t go under starter’s orders at Special Stage 1, Mouldy Hall, just after noon today.
Kelly, a two-time National Tarmac Championship winner, has had some bad luck in Donegal over recent years.
And the dark clouds descended before he moved an inch of this year’s event.
American superstar, Ken Block, who has a huge online presence, is also out after lasting just over two stages as he went out on special stage three, the first loop of the Grianan stage.
Block’s Escort Cosworth ended in a hedge on SS2.
Huge crowds turned out to see Block with hundreds attending a signing last night at Hegarty’s Ford in Letterkenny – Donegal Daily/Donegal Sport Hub’s vehicle sponsor.
Last year’s winners, Manus Kelly and Donall Barrett, currently sit in seventh place, 12.3 off the lead in their Hyundai i20 R5.
Sam Moffett and James Fulton are third overnight, 1.6 seconds behind the leaders.
Callum Devine was the quickest of the crews on SS1, Mouldy Hill, a 12.1km stage.
Devine, in an R5 Fiesta, finished in six minutes and 41 seconds.
The Derry man lost some time on stages 2 and 3 and at the end of stage 6 sits 10.6 seconds of the top spot.
In the National rally, Ryan Loughran and Gareth Doherty have a wafer-thin overnight lead.
In the Mk2 Escort, Loughran and Gareth Doherty have only 1.7 seconds to spare on the Darrian of Ian Barrett and Paul McGee, but another Mk2 Escort, that of last year’s winners Damian Tourish and Domhnall McAlaney are 5.7 seconds.
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