THE Sepam Tipperary Stonethrowers Rally, round five of the Dunlop National Rally Championship, provided plenty of drama as Cork driver Darragh O’Riordan (Ford Fiesta WRC) and his Derry co-driver Tony McDaid took the spoils as several of the top crews, five in fact, all failed to finish the nine stage rally.
The winners finished 44.4 seconds in front of the Darrian T90 of Wexford’s James Stafford/Amy Ryan. Third place for Welsh ace Steve Wood (Subaru WRC) and his Limerick co-driver Keith Moriarty was enough to promote them into the lead of the Dunlop series.
The top three seeds, Declan Boyle, the defending Dunlop champion along with title protagonist, Hugh Hunter and pre-event series leader Paddy McVeigh – all in Subaru WRC’s - all failed to finish.
The Dunlop Drive of the Day award was won by Clonmel’s Roy White and his Cork co-driver James O’Brien (MG ZR) - after plummeting to 83rd position, they clawed their way back, including a fastest stage time on stage seven, to finish in 21st. position.
Clonmel’s Gus Kearney in his Sepam liveried Mitsubishi EvoIX was the top Clonmel driver, he finished fourteenth overall and second in the Group N category, he was co-driven by Mallow’s Eddie O’Neill.
Meanwhile, several Clonmel crews were amongst the award winners, they included John Sheehan/Ross Mulcahy (VW Polo), who won Class 2 and Tom Sheehan/Adam Coffey (Nissan Micra), who prevailed in Class 5. In Class 10, Kieran Hayes/John Cooney took their Peugeot 205 GTi to third in class while Paul Quinlan/Andy Purser (Ford Escort) were second in Class 12.
Elsewhere, popular Cahir driver Andrew Fanning - an associate sponsor of the rally through his motor factor business, won Class 6, he was co-driven by Derek Gibbs. Another Cahir crew, Kevin Dalton/Neil White (Opel Astra) were second in Class 7. Newcastle’s James Coleman, co-driven by Cork’s Liam Brennan (Ford Escort) was sixth overall and second in Class 13.
Sepam Tipperary Stonethrowers Rally (Round 5, Dunlop National Rally Championship) Clonmel: 1. D. O’Riordan/T. McDaid (Ford Fiesta WRC) 1h. 03m. 43.4s; 2. J. Stafford/A. Ryan (Darrian T90) 1h. 04m. 27.8s; 3. S. Wood/K. Moriarty (Subaru WRC) 1h. 05m. 45.2s; 4. K. Barrett/A. Nestor (Subaru WRC) 1h. 05m. 57.6s; 5. M. Conlon/C. McPhillips (Ford Escort) 1h. 07m. 11.9s; 6. J. Coleman/L. Brennan (Ford Escort) 1h. 07m. 14.0s; 7. P. Donegan/A. Keena (Ford Escort) 1h. 07m. 31.5s; 8. J. Pringle/M. Byrne (Ford Escort) 1h. 07m. 41.2s; 9. D. Condell/E. McGrath (Ford Escort) 1h. 07m. 54.4s; 10. M. Curran/E. Gerety (Ford Escort) 1h. 08m. 15.4s.
Dunlop National Rally Championship (Provisional Positions after Round 5): 1. Steve Wood 73pts; 2. Paddy McVeigh 60pts; 3. Roy White 57pts; 4. Declan Boyle 40pts; 5. Hugh Hunter 38pts; 6. Sam Moffett 36pts.