2014 Galway International Rally

2014 Galway International Rally

Photos courtesy of Stefan Lassus www.facebook.com/Salmix – Fergus Hassett & Sean McHugh

The Irish rally season, and more specifically the Irish Tarmac Championships, roared into action over the weekend with the Colm Quinn BMW Galway International Rally. The event reverted back to a two-day format with the stages based in the south Galway area.

Clerk of the course Kieran Donoghue and his Galway Motor Club team did a heroic job in keeping the rally going through the flooded countryside, working with local residents and the local authorities to ensure the event went ahead with the forbearance and support of residents along the route.

Donegal’s cousins Declan & Brian Boyle won the event but they didn’t have things all their own way. Fellow county man and last years Irish Tarmac Champion Garry Jennings, with Rory Kennedy on the notes, had at one stage closed to within 0.2 of a second of Boyle, who had concerns about overheating coolant that led to the car lapsing on to three cylinders. Jennings though aquaplaned on Stage 8 and lost time, ending his hopes of grabbing the win. The Boyle’s kept their cool to make it a Subaru 1,2 and take their first International win.

The Ford Focus of Donagh Kelly & Kevin Flanagan, claimed third on the final stage after Sam Moffett clipped a rock and damaged a wheel rim, forcing him and his navigator James O’Reilly to settle for fourth.

Stephen McCann, in a Mitsubishi, won Group N and Declan Gallagher in a Toyota Starlet won the National category.

Local Mayo interest was with Bekan’s Sean McHugh and his co-driver Aidan Gannon from Tubbercurry, the pair, after a demanding two days brought their BMW home a splendid second in class 14 in the national section of the rally.

Kiltmagh native Eamon Walsh navigated Aaron McHale to finished just one place outside the top 10 of the International section and sixth in Group N.

Westport’s David Carney in his newly acquired Citroen DS3, had an unlucky start to the event, misjudging braking on stage 1 his DS3 came to rest on a bank, not causing much damage but a leaking radiator forced him and his navigator Ray Fitzpatrick to withdraw from the event.

Headford’s Justin Ryan had Andy Walsh from Ballinrobe on the notes in the junior section of the rally. The pair who contested the first six stages on Sunday got off to a blistering start in their Honda Civic. Sitting second in their class and third overall after stage 2, they were unfortunate on stage 3 when after a heavy landing an electrical problem stalled the engine. Losing a lot of time getting the car restarted the pair received the stage maximum time leaving them with a impossible mountain to climb, undeterred they went on to set some impressive times on their remaining 3 stages.

All attention now turns to the Mayo Stages Rally, which takes place on Sunday March 9th, with entries already coming in rapidly for the Ballina based event, the question on everybody lips is, with Declan Boyle’s good start to the year can he once again be the fastest around north Mayo and add to his 2013 Mayo win?