At the end of a duel that lasted throughout the two days, Donegal pair Manus Kelly and Donall Barrett in their Subaru Impreza scored their third International rally win when they added the Cartell.ie Killarney Rally of the Lakes to their previous two victories, which were both on their home ground.
And once again, their success came at the last minute, as they only took the lead three stages from the finish, when they went ahead of the Fiesta of longtime leaders Dubliner Rob Barrable and his Monaghan co-driver Damien Connolly.
Donegal pair Manus Kelly and Donall Barrett scored their third International rally win. Photo by Ruaidhri Nash
Barrable and Connolly led from Saturday’s opening stage, the world famous Moll’s Gap, and in damp early conditions, they pulled out an advantage of 36 seconds before the eventual winners began reducing this to 28 seconds by the overnight halt.
Yesterday, the Donegal duo continued the pressure, getting ever closer to the leaders, and when Barrable began having clutch problems, he decided to play it safe, as Kelly’s car is not eligible for the Clonakilty Blackpudding/Michelin Irish Tarmac series, and second place behind the Impreza WRC would still bring maximum championship points.
By the end, Kelly was 29 seconds in front, and such was the pace of the two leaders all weekend that third placed Desi Henry was never a serious challenger for top place, even though he was just over half a minute behind Barrable.
Last year’s winner and defending Irish Tarmac champion Sam Moffett could only manage fourth this time, ahead of Jonny Greer and Josh Moffett.