Darren Gass duly became Irish Tarmac rally champion for the first time even though he failed to finish the Cork ‘20’ International, final round of the series.
The 24-year-old from Armagh, who was allowed to compete pending the outcome of an appeal against a three-year driving ban, dropped out of second place midway through the first leg on Saturday as his Subaru hit a rock, breaking the steering rack. With Garry Jennings opting to non-start because he only had a small mathematical chance of the title, Gass was already champion.
Daragh O’Riordan went on to take his second Cork victory ahead of Declan Boyle and Denis Cronin in a Subaru 1-2-3 with Owen Murphy winning the production category in fourth place in his Mitsubishi.
Sebastien Loeb won his home Rally France to claim his ninth successive World title for Citroen while Irish driver Craig Breen was handed an unexpected victory in the Super 2000 division when New Zealander Hayden Paddon retired three stages from the end. Breenreturns to the top of the SWRC standings with one round remaining.
Ivor McCullough, newly-crowned Northern Ireland champion, wrapped up the Formula Ford season at Kirkistown with a dominant victory in the Martin Donnelly Trophy. McCullough won his heat and set a new FF1600 lap record on his way to a convincing final victory in his Van Diemen.
It was the Ballymena driver’s second win in the Donnelly event and he now moves on to defend his Formula Ford Festival title at Brands Hatch later this month.
The second heat was won by last year’s Donnelly winner Noel Robinson. The last 500 Club meeting of the season also saw the outright track record beaten by Philip Shields on his way to victory in the Formula Libre race. Dromore driver Shields lapped at 51.11 seconds in his GP2 Dallara, a speed of 106.51mph, as he won by more than 25 seconds from the Reynard of Eugene Heary and the Jedi of Mark Crawford.