The Donegal International Rally’s record six-time winner Andrew Nesbitt had backed Manus Kelly for more glory on the Donegal tar.
Between 1996 and 2006, Nesbitt scorched to six wins in Donegal; twice in a Celica, three times in a WRC Impreza and finally in a Lancer in ’06.
Kelly became the first man since Gareth McHale in 2010 to successfully defend the crown – and Nesbitt believes the Glenswilly man can dominate.
Picture caption: Rally legend Andrew Nesbitt with the 2017 Donegal International Rally winners Manus Kelly and Donall Barrett at Larkin’s of Newmills. Picture by Geraldine Diver
“Manus proved it,” Nesbitt said after Kelly’s stunning win.
“There are another two or three of rallies in these guys.
“When he was back about 25 seconds, something clicked between the driver, co-driver and the team and he gave it full boost. He’s a very tidy driver. He stays in the middle of the road and doesn’t get sideways. He’s a good, clean driver.”
The Newtownhamilton man famously set fastest times on all 22 stages in 2000.
Until Saturday afternoon, Donagh Kelly had been the pace-setter, recording the quickest times on all of the opening 10 stages.
Manus Kelly hit back on Saturday afternoon and took the lead for the first time on the first run over Atlantic Drive.
Nesbitt said: “It’s absolutely amazing. He deserves it. When he had to put the speed down he did it. Donagh was on the pace all weekend and had to throw the whole towel at it on Atlantic Drive.
“Unfortunately for him the car went light. He actually flipped over and rolled the car, it came onto its wheels and he was into gear and away on again – incredible. It was very close.
“Donagh was driving the car with serious commitment. In fairness to Manus, he deserved to win it.”Tags: