TYRONE trio Cathan McCourt, Niall Devine and Darren McKelvey proved to be on form at the Circuit of Munster on Sunday of last week as each claimed their class crowns over the ‘unbelievably fast’ stages.
Dromore’s McCourt, with Barry McNulty on the notes, has been in fine form this season onboard his Ford Fiesta R5 and in his Subaru Impreza S14 – he piloted the latter at the weekend.
Despite suffering from a slipping clutch, he just missed out on an overall podium place, finishing fourth. However, he did top the class seven charts ahead of Hugh Hunter and Steve Wood, with north Tyrone duo, Martin Cairns and Peter Ward fifth in class and 16th overall in their Ford Fiesta R5, as he continues to get used to his new car ahead of the Donegal International Rally in a couple of weeks.
Donemana’s Devine, Ward’s nephew, meanwhile, is another local driver looking forward to the big International event and he continued to set the pace in class four after winning Group N in his Mitsubishi Evo IX alongside Mac Kierans.
“The stages were crazy fast, but they were good and it was a good warm-up for Donegal,” he observed.
“I’ve never done Donegal before, I’ve never done a two day event but it’s a three day, so it will be a change, it will be different. A finish would be the main thing, but it will be tough.
“But we’re leading class four in the National Tarmac Championship at the minute, so hopefully we’ll be able to do a few more of them.”
Castlederg’s McKelvey is also chasing a class championship title and he extended his class 20 lead as main rival, Jason McSweeney, again failed to finish, much to the local driver’s disappointment.
“Jason took time out of us on the first loop and we took some back on the second and it was shaping up to be a real good battle on the third loop because we had halved his lead,” he explained.
“But then he didn’t come out from service with turbo problems, which is the second or third time that has happened this year. We’re due a good straight race from start to finish because he has definitely got a quick car and he’s a quick driver, but he can’t seem to get the reliability.
“It would have been nicer to finish that way, than how it ended up, but it was a good rally on unbelievably fast stages and it was nice to come away with full points again.”
Donegal seedings announced
NINE Tyrone crews have been named in the top 50 seeds for the Joule Donegal International Rally, which takes place from June 21-23.
While the entry of American internet sensation, Ken Block, certainly catches the eye, it’s the local contingent who are expected to set the pace over three testing days behind the wheel.
Kesh driver Garry Jennings, assisted by Rory Kennedy, and Trillick’s Alastair Fisher, with Omagh’s Gordon Noble alongside, are seeded inside the top 10, while Omagh’s Seamus Leonard and McCourt sit menacingly just outside.
In the two-wheel-drive ranks, Cookstown’s Ryan Loughran is expected to lead the Tyrone charge, followed closely by Moy’s Frank Kelly, fresh from his exploits down under in New Zealand at Rally Otago and Ballygawley’s Vivian Hamill, all in Mk II Ford Escorts.
North Tyrone’s Aidan Wray and Declan McCrory round out the local contingent in the top 50, and can expect to challenge for class honours in their Mitsubishi Evo X and Subaru Impreza WRC respectively.