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Champion Donagh Kelly leads from start to finish at West Cork Rally

By Sammy Hamill

Published 14/03/2016

Hat-trick: Donagh Kelly won a record three in a row
Hat-trick: Donagh Kelly won a record three in a row

Donagh Kelly dominated the West Cork Rally, with the reigning Irish Tarmac champion from Donegal scoring a record third win in a row.

Kelly led from start to finish in his WRC Ford Focus, winning by almost one-and-a-half minutes from the Citroen DS3 of Keith Cronin with Sam Moffett third in his Ford Fiesta. But it was Cronin and Moffett who came away with the lion's share of the Tarmac championship points, new rules this year excluding WRC cars like Kelly's Focus.

Not that it will concern him. After a record-breaking season in 2015 in which he won both the Tarmac and Irish National titles, Kelly has taken a step back and is contesting just a handful of events. But having won in West Cork for the past two years he had to come back to bid for the hat-trick and duly swept to a convincing third win. Challenged initially by Garry Jennings, who had David Moynihan co-driving as a late replacement for Rory Kennedy, Kelly was given breathing space when the Galway International winner spun and stalled his Subaru on Saturday, dropping more than 40 seconds.

Jennings never really recovered and finished a distant third ahead of the R5 Fiestas of Sam Moffett and his brother Josh who were separated by four seconds.

Alastair Fisher had been trading times with Cronin in the battle for the R5 division but he crashed out on the final Saturday stage, his Fiesta going off the road. Fisher and co-driver Gordon Noble were unhurt.

Meanwhile, Alexey Lukyanuk pulled off a surprise victory on the Rally Islas Canarias to take the lead in the European championship which next heads for Belfast and the Circuit of Ireland.

The Russian had been trailing Kajetan Kajetanowicz by 30 seconds but the reigning champion's Ford Fiesta suffered two flat wheels due to incorrect tyre pressures and he lost over minute, dropping to second.

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