There was heart-break for Marty Gallagher and co-driver Dean O’Sullivan as their Peugeot 208 R2 was side-lined on the final stage of the Cork 20 International Rally with a water temperature problem. The young Donegal crew were on their way to clinching second in their category of the Clonakilty Black Pudding Irish Tarmac Rally Championship, after a storming drive which saw them lead the R2 race for much of the two day event.
“It was a massive disappointment for the whole team” said Marty. “We had a puncture on the penultimate stage, and had settled for second R2, behind Callum Devine, when the temperature light came on. We stopped and waited for the car to cool, but by that time we were too late, and it dropped us to third in the championship. That’s how the sport goes, but up to that our weekend was excellent.” The crew in the Campsie Karting Centre 208 R2 started the event cautiously on what were at times slippery stages on the opening loop on Saturday, stages that claimed championship rival William Creighton who slid into a ditch, re-joining later in the day under Rally 2 rules. “It was tricky in places, and we were cautious. We were second R2, but Callum had pulled almost twenty-five seconds on us, and we wanted to be on his pace.”
The next loop was over different tests, and with conditions drier too, Marty was to put his Manx experience with the 208 to use. On stage five Marty and Dean really got into the groove and took ten seconds off Devine in his Opel Adam, and remarkably almost thirteen on stage six to be just 1.6 seconds behind the championship leader. On the final stage of the day Marty moved into the R2 lead, and a fine tenth overall behind only the R5 and WRC machinery. The race with Callum was truly on, and that lead was just 0.2 of a second! “It was great to race with Callum. He is a deserving champion, and there is always friendly rivalry between us. When we got the puncture at the end of the penultimate test, he helped us to change it before the next stage. Certainly going into Sunday’s stages with 0.2 of a second between us it was exhilarating!”
Sunday was good for the Donegal crew, and after the first loop of three stages, they had a 7.8 second lead over Callum Devine, but Devine reduced that to 1.3 after twelve stages, with just two more to run. However stage thirteen was unlucky-Marty picking up a puncture, and dropping almost twenty seconds. “The race was over then, and we were just cruising to the finish and that second place, but it wasn’t to be. Nevertheless I really enjoyed the rally, and the improvements we have made. Now we are converting the car to gravel trim, and heading to the Limerick Forest Rally and Glens of Antrim rallies, before trying to embark on the trip to the FIA European Rally Trophy (ERT) Shoot out in Austria.”
Certainly with the switch to Peugeot power and a renewed focus from the team, Marty and Dean have been making themselves a force to be reckoned with in the second half of 2016. Donegal, Ulster, Manx and Cork have all shown their increased speed and consistency, and exciting things hopefully are ahead for the Donegal duo.