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Boyle at top of leaderboard at end of Donegal Rally first leg

By Sammy Hamill

Declan Boyle led an all-local one-two-three at the top of the leaderboard at the end of the first leg of the Joule Donegal International Rally.

The former Irish Tarmac champion and fought a day-long duel with reigning champion and county compatriot Donagh Kelly, the 2014 Donegal winner in his WRC Ford Fiesta emerging with a six-second lead over Kelly's WRC Ford Focus.

Just seven seconds further back was another local hero, Manus Kelly, driving a WRC Subaru Impreza for only the second time.

Big shock of the opening leg was the early exit of last year's winner Garry Jennings. He had been second fastest to Boyle on the first stage but immediately retired his Subaru with a major engine fault.

Seamus Leonard, from Omagh, was the leading Ulster driver having nudged his was into fourth place in another WRC Subaru on the final stage of the day, but he was less than a second ahead of the chasing group of R5 cars headed by the Ford Fiesta of Alastair Fisher.

Leader of this year's Tarmac championship, Fisher was four seconds in front of Sam Moffett with the younger of the Monaghan brothers, Josh, 11 seconds behind in seventh place.

Keith Cronin had been the R5 leader in fourth place overall until stage four where his DS3 Citroen suffered a puncture. Last night he was in eighth place.

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