Daniel McKenna and Andrew Grennan win National section Donegal Rally

Posted: June 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

Meath’s Tim McNulty and Paul Kiely added the accolade of winning the Topaz Donegal International Rally for the first time to their list of achievements after 3 competitive days of rallying last weekend. Driving a Subaru Impreza WRC, the pair had 1 minute and 19 seconds to spare over 2nd placed Alistair Fisher and Rory Kennedy in a Fiesta S2000 with Darragh O’Riordan and Tony McDaid 3rd in another Subaru WRC. After a frantic duel on the final day, Gary Jennings edged out Phillip Morrow by just one second to win the Group N production class.

Popular Scotshouse crew Daniel McKenna and Andrew Grennan won the National section convincingly in their Scanbitz Escort.

 

The rally featured 24 of the most demanding and breathtaking stages which Donegal has to offer. Taking in famous stages such as Fanad Head, Atlantic Drive, Glen, Knockalla and Malin Head this event as always was a true test of car reliability and driver commitment. The changing weather pattern with scattered showers meant that tyre choice was a lottery throughout the weekend. McNulty was seeded 1st on the road following four wins from four starts in the Dunlop National series and he led from start to finish to go one better than last year and take the outright win. The rally also saw the running of the National Rally in tandem with the International entry and it was here that most of the Monaghan interest lay. Incredibly it was the Scanbitz Escort of Daniel McKenna and Andrew Grennan who were raising eyebrows from the off as they recorded 2nd fastest stage time on the opening test, Fanad Head in wet conditions. The familiar pairing of Sam Moffett and James O’Reilly were seeded 7th in the International section in their EVO9 and were giving a good account of themselves through the Friday stages. They were in close contention for the class lead but disaster struck on the final stage as their engine cried enough. Scotland’s David Bogie with Tydavnet’s Enda Sherry navigating in the powerful Metro 6R4 never really got their weekend off the ground as they hit trouble on stage 2 with a burst oil pipe, forcing them to pull in and retire for the day, only to re-join the Saturday stages under super rally rules. Daniel and Andrew also hit trouble on the 2nd stage, Atlantic Drive, when a 5th gear spin resulted in a brush with a stone wall that bent the back axle. However,  thanks to their excellent service crew they managed to remove the axle, cut it, weld it and re-fit it with only a 30 second penalty to keep them in the event. Welshman Phil Collins who was considered one of Daniel’s main challengers, put himself out of the event with a roll on SS3.

            The Saturday stages were greeted with slightly drier conditions and with the pace relentless at the front, spectators were getting the entertainment that Donegal is synonymous with. McNulty was again the pace setter but Alister Fisher and Darragh O’Riordan were punching in fastest stage times and ready to take over at the top should McNulty be forced into an error. Derek McGarrity’s charge came to an end on stage 12 when his car ground to a halt having lost 5th gear to leave the top three out on their own with Maynooth’s Kevin Barrett taking over 4th position and from here on he drove an intelligent rally to finish 4th overall. Further down the field the travelling Monaghan men were giving a good account of themselves as mid-way through the Saturday stages Arthur and Macartan Kierans had climbed as high as 14th overall in the National standings and class leaders. Unfortunately an uncharacteristic mistake from Arthur on SS14 when they slid off the road left them stranded for the day. They did re-enter the event for the Sunday stages to again put in some great class times and eventually earned them 4th in class. Josh Moffett and Ardee’s Domhall Lennon were consistent from the start and this was paying off as they constantly climbed the leaderboard to finish an excellent 13th overall and class 16 winners. Raymond Conlon and Darren McCague were hopeful of better luck in Donegal than they have been having of late but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be here either as a plethora of small mechanical gremlins culminated in a broken compression strut which forced them off the road on SS20. Thankfully their car was none the worse for it. Young Donegal man Conor Harvey acquired the services of Damian Hagan’s class 13 Escort for the weekend. This was Conor’s first event on tarmac in a rear-wheel drive car and what an impression he made climbing as high as 6th overall at one point in the National section but unfortunately head gasket trouble on Sunday morning halted his charge but it was an excellent performance nonetheless. Jonathan McKenna and Peter Deery in their class 11 Peugeot 106 had a steady run through the hills of Donegal and with a finish being an achievement in itself, must be happy with 38th overall. Castleblayney’s Paddy O’Reilly and Barry McGlennon’s weekend was somewhat frayed with clutch trouble followed by a broken ball joint ending their run.

            Back at the top and despite a second 5th gear spin on Saturday evening Daniel and Andrew set about extending his lead through the Sunday stages from a hard charging Welshman John Dalton in his Darrian T90. Daniel seemed to have that little extra when needed and pulled out over a two minute lead, this despite a 30 second penalty after Friday’s axle woes. He eventually went on to win the National section by almost 3 minutes and indeed his times would have given him 5th overall in the International Rally, no mean feat behind four WRC specification cars after 3 days of rallying. Dalton went on to finish 2nd o/a in the National section while local Donegal man Brian Brogan took 3rd o/a with Cavan’s Rodney Wilton and Conor McMahon making good their return to rallying in a new class 14 Escort to finish 4th o/a closely followed by Adrian Hetherington in 5th.

            The event also featured a Historic section with Ballinode’s Brendan and JP McAree out in their immaculate Porsche 911 but it was to be a disappointing weekend with back axle trouble forcing their retirement. Monaghan was well represented as usual in the Junior category of the event, which took in the Sunday stages of the main rally. A great battle ensued at the head of the field with 29 seconds separating the top four after 8 stages but it was local knowledge which probably shone through in the end with Daniel Breslin and Johnny Jordan in a Twin Cam taking a 13 second win from David Moffett and Andrew Spears in their Starlet with South Monaghan men Johno and Padraig Doogan 3rd a further 14 seconds in arrears. Gerard McQuaid and Gareth Quinlan took their Escort home to a respectable 7th overall while Ryan and Nicola McKenna were 14th overall in their Twin Cam. Cootehill’s Mark Wedlock and Adam Kinkade rolled their Escort on stage 6 of the Junior rally while holding a commanding overall lead. Meanwhile David Smith and Sean Hamill retired their Peugeot 106 on the second stage. James McCarville made the annual pilgrimage to Donegal, but it was with a difference this year as he was navigating for Tyrone’s Ryan Loughran. However, they surely left their luck at home as the oil filter dislodged itself early on in stage 1, forcing them into an early retirement.

            As always Monaghan had many volunteers in attendance in the form of marshals for the weekend and we are deeply indebted to all who represented our club as marshals or helped out over the course of the weekend. All contributed to a highly successful and safe 2011 Topaz Donegal International Rally on the occasion of it’s 40th anniversary.

 

Results

TOPAZ DONEGAL INTERNATIONAL RALLY 

1 Tim McNulty/Paul Kiely (Subaru Impreza WRC) 2h 40m 40s,

2 Alastair Fisher/Rory Kennedy (Ford Fiesta S2000) 2h 41m 59s,

3 Daragh O’Riordan/Tony McDaid (Subaru Impreza WRC) 2h 43m 01s,

4 Kevin Barrett/Sean Mullally (Subaru Impreza WRC) 2h 46m 22s,

5 Garry Jennings/David Moynihan (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 Gp N) 2h 49m 05s,

6 Philip Morrow/Johnny Hart (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 Gp N) 2h 49m 06s,

7 Seamus Heron/Gerry McVeigh (Toyota Corolla WRC) 2h 50m 28s,

8 Alan Ring/Adrian Deasy (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 Gp N) 2h 55m 24s,

9 Scott McElhinney/Karl Reid (Citroen C2R2 Max) 2h 59m 58s,

10 Pat Kirk/Peter Ward (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 Gp N) 3h 00m 08s.

 

NATIONAL RALLY:

1 Daniel McKenna/Andrew Grennan (Ford Escort) 2h 48m 01s,

2 John Dalton/Gwynfor Jones (Darrian T90) 2h 50m 47s,

3 Brian Brogan/Damien McGettigan (Ford Escort) 2h 53m 15s,

4 Rodney Wilton/Conor McMahon (Ford Escort) 2h 53m 23s,

5 Adrian Hetherington/Gary Nolan (Ford Escort) 2h 53m 58s,

6 Martin McGee/Damien Fleming (Ford Escort) 2h 54m 10s.

 

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