Great Northern Abbey Court Hotel Nenagh Rally winners Clonmel's Roy White (extreme right) and Cork's James O'Brien (extreme left) celebrate with family and friends. Photo: Martin Walsh.
In difficult conditions and leading from the start, Clonmel’s Roy White and his Cork co-driver James O’Brien in the FESP backed Ford Fiesta WRC won the Great National Abbey Court Hotel Nenagh Rally.
For White, the 2016 Triton National Rally champion, it was his first major success made sweeter by the fact that he was followed home by Donegal pair Donagh Kelly (Ford Focus WRC) and Declan Boyle (Ford Fiesta WRC), both have previously won the National and Tarmac championships.
At the finish of the six special stages White/O’Brien were 21.1 seconds in front of Kelly and his Monaghan co-driver Conor Foley while Boyle and Monaghan’s James O’Reilly were 19.7 seconds further adrift in third.
Meanwhile, Clonmel’s Paul Manton (Citroen DS3 R3) and Colum Browne (Honda Civic) along with Cahir’s Andrew Fanning (Proton Satria) all failed to finish.
Nenagh’s David Forde/TJ O’Brien (Subaru) finished second in Class 20.
White gained an 8.9 second lead on the opening stage and extended the margin to 17.9 seconds on the second stage.
“I’m pleasantly surprised, we did some work to the car over the winter in terms of suspension set-up and it’s working well. I’m going quickly but I’m not sticking my neck out.”
Boyle, who had a misfire for part of the stages, occupied second with Kelly 12.5 seconds further behind having lost time when he spun and stalled on the opening stage. Fermanagh’s Garry Jennings held fourth but was forced to retire when his Subaru developed a throttle problem.
Donegal’s Joe McGonigle on his first real drive in the Mini WRC was next in a top six that also included the Subaru of Clare’s Padraig Egan.
Out on the three stages that followed the service halt, White pushed his lead margin out to 21.3 seconds that included setting the best time on S.S. 5. Kelly was quickest though stages three and four.
Boyle slipped to third and his plight wasn’t helped by a misted over windscreen on S.S. 4. McGonigle survived a major moment when his Mini WRC aquaplaned, he was fourth with fifth placed Paddy McVeigh concerned about his Subaru’s loss of power. Clare’s Padraig Egan was lucky that his visit to the scenery on S.S. 4 had only a soft brush with a fence.
White wenn on to claim a fine victory and a confidence booster ahead of his bid to regain the Triton National Rally Championship that begins on Achill Island in two week’s time.
Kelly and Boyle rounded out the top three with McGonigle, who stalled on the final stage, McVeigh and Egan completing the top six.
Donegal’s John O’Donnell (Escort) won the two-wheel drive award and Cork’s David Guest (Mitsubishi) who lost time with transmission woes, won the Group N showroom category.
The event was a counting round of the Top Part West Coast and Midlands East Rally championships.
RESULTS: 1. R. White/J. O'Brien (Ford Fiesta WRC) 47m. 39.9s; 2. D. Kelly/C. Foley (Ford Focus WRC) 48m. 01.0s; 3. D. Boyle/J. O'Reilly (Ford Fiesta WRC) 48m. 20.7s; 4. J. McGonigle/C. Geaney (Mini WRC) 49m. 00.0s; 5. P. McVeigh/G. McElhinney (Subaru WRC) 50m. 05.3s; 6. P. Egan/T. Ryan (Subaru) 50m. 35.5s; 7. S. Wright/A. Kierans (Ford Fiesta R5) 51m. 25.9s; 8. J. O'Donnell/J. Friel (Ford Escort) 51m. 36.6s; 9. S. Liston/K. Walsh-Liston (BMW E30) 51m. 39.9s; 10. K. O'Donoghue/C. O'Donoghue (BMW M3) 51m. 58.0s.