THE Clanree Hotel Donegal Mini Stages Rally is being hosted today by the Donegal Motor Club.
Johnathon Pringle has won the Mini Stages Rally
Joseph McGonigle from Muff as quickest over the final stage, the Skoda Fabia coming in 7:53.6.
He has finished just 0.04 seconds behind runner-up Ryan Loughran. Cavan man Pringle had done enough. Mechanical trouble led to the withdraw of his nearest challenger Frank Wray.
“They were fabulous stages and we have done what we came here to do,” Pringle said. “With snow falling around the high ground on the last stage, it was perhaps the trickiest stage of the day.”
Heading into the last of the six stages, Jonathon Pringle is looking set for victory
SS 5: Cavan’s Jonathon Pringle is now within touching distance of winning the event. He holds a 16.7 lead over Ryan Loughran.
Frank Wray hasn’t appeared off SS5, Dooish, and appears to be gone. Joseph McGonigle from Muff is in third, only three seconds behind Loughran. Damian Gallagher and Brian Brogan are next in line.
So with two stages remaining, Jonathan Pringle is leading the field after stage 4
SS4: There are 28 seconds separating the top six crews – and it’s really all to play for with two stages to go, although the gaps over the remaining distance will be hard to close.
Frank Wray and Joe McNulty were the quickest over SS4, the second loop of Glenmaquin, but were just 0.1 second faster than Jonathan Pringle and Alan Keena.
Pringle still holds the advantage heading into the final two stages of the afternoon, his advantage sitting at 5.8 seconds.
Ryan Loughran is in third with Joseph McGonigle, Brian Broagan and Damien Gallagher in hot pursuit, but the conditions aren’t conducive to taking too many chances.
SS3: Wesley Patterson and Jonny Baird lost a lot of time on stage 3, Dooish, after a spin cost them around 20 seconds. Jonathan Pringle had a scorching time on that run, finishing in 7:15.3, around six seconds quicker than his nearest competitor.
“Slippery, but now wild bad now,” was how Joe McNulty, Frank Wray’s navigator, described the conditions at this point.
Damien Tourish hasn’t appeared at stage end and no sign of him on the results sheet, so the assumtion is that his event is over.
SS3: Jonathan Pringle from Cavan has scorched into the lead, doing this loop of SS3 in 7:15.3
SS2: Martin Doherty, we’re now told, hasn’t actually taken to the start line this morning, so Strabane’s Frank Wray is the first of the crews. He came through SS2, Glenmaquin, in 8:22.6.
Gary McPhillips’ Escort went off at location 11 on SS2 and blocked the stage for some competitors, who say they now expect to be given a scratch time.
Joe McNulty, Wray’s navigator, said SS1 was ‘slushy’ in places ‘for 1 or 2 kilometres’. A radio transmission issue was the problem on SS1.
SS 1: The Clerk of the Course, Karl Reid, has confirmed a ‘communications’ problem on SS1, Dooish. Crews are going through the stage in convoy and moving on to stage 2. Competitors expected to be given the same time for that opening stage.
Overnight frost will make for testing conditions for the competitors, who are led off and running by the Evo 9 of Martin Doherty from Ballybofey, the winner of the last two Mini Stages events, the last of them in Ballyliffin in 2013.
An entry list of 102 crews are at the Clanree Hotel, the rally headquarters, for the event which gets underway shortly.
While there is disappointment that the R5+ cars of Alastair Fisher, Brendan Cumiskey and Desi Henry have not been permitted to enter, following a ruling at a Motorsport Ireland meeting last Wednesday, it hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm.
Stage1 is Dooish and stage 2 is Glenmaquin. There will be three loops of each stage, both of which are former stages in the Donegal International Rally stages.Tags: