DRAMA, EXCITEMENT, disappointment and ecstasy – day two of the Joule Donegal International Rally had it all and more in abundance.
Where to even start with such an eventful day of rallying, which took in eight frenetic, fabulous stages of Donegal’s toughest terrain.
The pre-rally favourite and defending Donegal champion Garry Jennings went out of action on stage one of day one, but it was merely only a prelude to what was to follow on day two.
It kicked off on the first running of Knockalla this morning, the famous stage claiming the challenge of overnight national rally leader Brian Brogan.
The Mark 2 Escort of Brogan and Damien McGettigan encountered axel trouble just after the start of that stage and knocked several minutes off their time.
Brogan and McGettigan got back on the road and began again setting seriously fast times, right up there with the top men in the national section.
Donagh Kelly had been in the heel of the hunt and enjoying a titanic battle at the forefront of the international field until a puncture saw the Ford come a cropper on Carnhill.
That left Declan Boyle the clear front-runner and firmly in pole position to take his second Donegal International title in three years.
Drama? As the crews came roaring into view at the end of today’s final stage, Gartan, the WRC Fiesta of Boyle was nowhere to be seen and instead it was the unmistakable blue of Seamus Leonard’s Impreza that was the lead car.
Leonard, from Omagh, has veteran John McCafferty calling the notes and they hold a lead of only 3.3 seconds from Keith Cronin, who has set some blistering times in the Citroen and is really on the pipe heading into the final six stages.
Sam Moffett is in third, 15.3 seconds behind Cronin.
Picture caption: Seamus Leonard, the overnight leader of the 2016 Joule Donegal International Rally. Picture by Geraldine Diver
The S12 Subaru of Manus Kelly and Donall Barrett is in fourth. Kelly landed in a field during the first loop of Garrygort this morning and cost them a minute and a half, but they’ve again responded in emphatic style and back on the door handles again.
‘Mandy’ is really showing that he’s at home competing with the top WRC crews and, bar that mishap on Garrygort, it’s been, so far, a good weekend for the Glenswilly-Milford crew.
Josh Moffett is in fifth with Eugene Donnelly – enjoying his first run in Donegal in seven years – back in sixth.
As if Brogan’s mishap on Knockalla wasn’t bad enough, Jonathan Pringle came off Knockalla the second time around having not only had a close encounter with a ditch but also having hit a sheep on the stage, dropping four minutes and going out of the running.
Frank Kelly has been haring through the stages today and leads the national rally by nine seconds from Scottish driver David Bogie, who has also been blistering with his times.
Local pair Damien Gallagher and Mac Walsh are third in the national standings, while Damien Tourish from Cloghan is fourth and The Milkman, Declan Gallagher, is fifth, having had some difficulty.
Here’s how Donegal Sport Hub’s team saw the action today:Tags: