The Joule Donegal International Rally ended on a high with Manus Kelly and Donall Barrett retaining their title for the second year running. In a superb contest, the defending champions battled it out all weekend with fellow Donegal man, Donagh Kelly, who was unfortunate to slide off the road in the penultimate stage. Once again, Ireland’s only three-day rally was a massive success, bringing drivers, navigators and spectators on a thrilling weekend of motorsport, set against the spectacular backdrop of the Wild Atlantic Way.
Climbing from his Subaru S12b, Manus Kelly paid tribute to his family, friends, co-driver, organisers, officials and marshals: “I wouldn’t be here today without the support of my family, friends and sponsors, who all made this happen. My good friend Donall Barrett was faultless on the notes all weekend and the car was a dream to drive. Huge thanks to Eamon McGee and his team who put on the best rally in Ireland and thanks to everyone involved. We’re looking forward to the celebrations!”
Taking time out from his debriefing, Clerk of the Course Eamon McGee thanked everyone who worked tirelessly to ensure the success of this year’s rally: “The crowds out on the stages were the biggest we have seen in Donegal for many years and everyone was in great form and listened to instructions and obeyed the marshals at all times. We didn’t lose one stage and the rally pretty much ran on time all weekend. The live coverage via our Facebook was absolutely fantastic and we’d great feedback from Irish people all around the world, with tens of thousands of people tuning in to view the weekend action. It was great to be able to share the rally with the diaspora in this way and the Donegal landscape and The Wild Atlantic Way provided the perfect setting for another dramatic finish.”
Meanwhile, the Clonakilty Blackpudding Championship contenders had an intense fight all weekend. Alastair Fisher took top points with Monaghan brothers Sam and Josh Moffett claiming second and third place points.
The modified tussle was an intense event with another Glenswilly man taking the win. Damien Gallagher, partnered by Mac Walsh, claimed the win ahead of Declan Gallagher and John McCarthy. Top point scorer in the championship was Vivian Hamill.
In the Historic category, county Antrim’s Ernie Graham took the overall win as well as maximum Clonakilty Blackpudding points. Stephen Peoples, ably assisted by Kieran Burke, claimed the junior title. Jenna McCann finished third in the junior race, which was enough to extend her push for the Clonakilty Blackpudding Championship junior title. Delighted with the success of this year’s event, organisers are already looking toward next year as plans for the 2018 Joule Donegal International Rally get underway.