1st (49) Kai D Kolle/Llion William (Porsche) 6.53.3
2nd (63) Derek Butler/Aaron ORegan (Honda) 6.59.4
3rd (89) Ryan Loughran/Brendan McElhinney (Escort) 7.06.7
4th (16) Kevin Eves/William Lynch (Corolla) 7.06.7
5th (88) Gary Kiernan/Keith Moriarty (Escort) 7.07.2
6th (26) Patrick McHugh/Pauric ODonnell (Escort) 7.10.4
Overnight rain, thankfully now stopped, left the opening stage wet, and along with the low sun on the wet asphalt, left the opening stage difficult for the drivers. Last years Galway winner and rally leader after this opening stage, Garry Jennings, commented from his Subaru, "Very treacherous and slippy, we tried no heroics."
Declan Boyle was surprised to be only a split second behind Jennings and he told us that his Fiesta WRC seems down on power, that there were some new parts fitted during the week and they did not then get time for a proper test. Declan does not feel though that his malaise is anything to do with the new parts.
Josh Moffett was fastest of the R5 cars, and he reported no problems, although bits of foliage sticking out from under a front mudguard of his Fiesta would suggest he was trying fairly hard! Most drivers were on an intermediate type tyre, while Alastair Fisher went for a ‘cut slick’. Alastair wasn’t convinced the brave choice gave him any advantage, maybe it will over the next two stages before service.
Roy White has had his Fiesta WRC rebuilt over the winter, and re-liveried in FESP colours. He said at stage finish ‘Steady as she Goes’. The National Champion is obviously thinking of the long haul.
Joe McGonigle stalled his Skoda and lost a few seconds – 10th after SS1. Robert Barrable – hasn’t rallied for a couple of years, admits it took him a while to get going. Stephen McCann says he was a bit cautious on his first outing in his new Fiesta R5. Eugene Meegan in his BMW M3 reported no grip, while fellow National front runner Gary Kiernan said yes, it was slippy, but he had a great run.
Tom Flaherty has crashed his Escort. Several drivers were waved down by bystanders, but Tom waved them on quickly! Pat Donegan’s Escort is pulled in, presumably due to a mechanical problem, but this has to be confirmed. Several drivers, as well as the organisers, have appealed for spectators not to walk on the stages.
More news later: BRIAN & LIZ & MICHAEL & ZOE PATTERSON "http://www.rallynews.net" www.rallynews.net