Eamonn Boland put the finishing touches to an exceptional season with victory on the Cork ‘20’ International Rally.
Already assured of becoming Irish Tarmac champion for the first time, Boland led from start to finish in Cork in his S12B Subaru to win by 15 seconds from the Ford Focus of Gareth MacHale.
It was the Wexford veteran's fifth win of the season, a new record to take with him as he heads for Spain and the World championship Rally Catalunya starting on Friday.
The expected battle with Eugene Donnelly never materialised, the four-time champion's Skoda Fabia retiring with electrical failure on only the second stage when he was in second place.
It was left to MacHale to take up the chase and although he got the gap down to 15 seconds in the closing stages, where Boland admitted he “dropped the ball a bit”, the result was never really in doubt. The other MacHale, elder brother Aaron, was third.
Niall McShea put in an impressive performance to finish fourth and win the Group N category. The former World production champion from Enniskillen was using the event as a development exercise for Subaru's new N14 Impreza and despite making constant adjustments to the car he ran throughout the rally in a strong fourth to see off the challenge of Damien Tourish.
However, the Donegal driver achieved his objective to taking maximum points in the Irish Mitsubishi Challenge series — but it wasn't quite enough, Brendan Cumiskey fighting back from a first stage crash to secure the title.