NORTHERN IRELAND duo Marty McCormack/Barney Mitchell (Volkswagen Polo GTi R5) won an exciting CBtoolhire.com Cork 20 International Rally that saw early leaders Derry’s Callum Devine and then Ballylickey’s Daniel Cronin, both in Fiesta R5s crash out within a stage of each other early on Sunday.
McCormack took the lead on Stage 7 and on what was an Irish rally debut for the VW Polo GTi R5, he went on to claim a great victory finishing 18.5 seconds ahead of the Skoda Fabia R5 of Welsh pair Meirion Evans/Jonathan Jackson. Belfast’s Jonny Greer and his co-driver Kirsty Riddick (Ford Fiesta R5) were a distant third, some three minutes and 23.7 seconds further behind.
Dunmanway’s David Guest and his Mitchelstown co-driver Jonathan McGrath (Skoda Fabia S2000) were the top Cork crew, they finished fifth.
Top seed Derry’s Callum Devine (Fiesta R5) enjoyed a strong run through most of Saturday’s five stages.
The first four were a double run over Kilnamartyra and Lough Allua. For the most part Devine, who had a slight spin on S.S. 3 and a little trip over a grass verge on S.S. 4 that cost him no real time, held a comfortable lead of 27 seconds.
Daniel Cronin was his closest rival, after a promising opening stage where he was 8.5 seconds behind Devine, the West Cork driver slipped to third to find a rhythm after he reckoned his was ragged through the opening stage. However, he improved on the re-run of both, he was quickest on S.S. 3 to reclaim second spot, an overheating issue was traced to an air lock.
Having softened the settings of the VW Polo GTi R5 Marty McCormack made up ground to slot into third ahead of Welsh ace Meirion Evans (Skoda Fabia R5). Tyrone’s Cathan McCourt was fifth, he lost brakes on the first stage and endured a spin on the second stage.
Torrential rain greeted the crews for the final stage, rally leader Devine had an extra difficulty.
Just about 2km into the 20km stage, the rear left driveshaft broke and he limped to the stage finish — no longer in the lead — and a minute and eight seconds off top spot and down in fifth place.
Cronin arrived at the Macroom service park as the new rally leader, his journey through the stage was stymied by a misted windscreen.
McCormack was 3.9 seconds behind in second followed by Evans, who admitted to having a big moment on the stage. McCourt, who punched in the best stage time, ended the day in fourth with Devine fifth. Jonny Greer in a Fiesta, Eugene Donnelly in a Proton and David Guest in a Skoda Fabia S2000 were next in a top ten that also included Glounthaune’s Denis Moynihan (Fiesta R5) and the Subaru of Group N leader Andy Davies.
Yesterday and as expected Devine made a charge but it ended quickly as he slid his Fiesta off the road and punctured. Cronin’s lead was reduced to 7.5 seconds by McCormack, who was growing in confidence with the Polo.
Then, on S.S. 7, Cronin spun at high speed and ended up in a drain with the impact breaking the steering arm and bringing instant retirement. McCormack arrived at the Macroom service with a 4.8 second lead over Evans.
Tyrone’s Cathan McCourt and his Millstreet co-driver Liam Moynihan were up to third but their rally ended on S.S. 9 when their Fiesta R5 slid into a drain.
Eugene Donnelly and his Rosscarbery Co-driver Alistair Wyllie (Proton Iriz) were fourth ahead of Guest with East Cork’s Denis Moynihan/Martin O’Brien (Fiesta R5) sixth.
Ovens driver Owen Murphy took a strong win in the Historic section where Glounthaune’s Luke McCarthy (Escort) was third.