Kenny McKinstry made it three wins out of three in the final rounds of the Hankook Northern Ireland rally championship but he was quick to pay tribute to “the real stars” who followed him across the finish line in the Glens of Antrim Rally.
The Banbridge veteran completed his hat-trick of wins, leading from start to finish through the north Antrim forests in his Subaru Impreza and finishing 15 seconds ahead of the chasing pack.
But it wasn't arch rival Derek McGarrity who was on his tail but two of Ulster's rising rally stars, Alastair Fisher and Jonny Greer.
Fresh from their British championship campaigns and using the Townparks-sponsored event as preparation for their introduction to the Intercontinental Rally Challenge series in Scotland in two weeks time, the two 21-year-olds shone in their production Mitsubishis.
They traded fastest times with the more powerful WRC cars of McKinstry and McGarrity and lost out only on the steep climbs of the Slieveanorra stages where their Group N Lancers were outgunned.
True, McKinstry was able to ease off towards the end with his lead secure and McGarrity only lost third when his Toyota Corolla overheated and lapsed into “safe mode” two stages from the finish, but Fisher and Greer impressed with their speed and commitment.
“The youngsters, Fisher and Greer, were real stars,” acknowledged McKinstry who must now wait to see if the championship committee rubber stamp McGarrity's position at the top of the standing following the bonus points controversy.
There is also a question mark over the production championship even though Raymond Johnston did just enough to edge to top the table following Donagh Kelly's withdrawal on Saturday due to a family bereavement.
Johnston finished sixth overall, losing production points to Fisher, Greer and Irish Mitsubishi champion Neil McCance, who was fifth, but still securing enough to overhaul the unfortunate Kelly. However, there is still an issue over bonus points which has yet to be resolved.
Trevor Moore overcame an engine misfire with his Ford Escort to fight his way back to 11th overall and secure the two-wheel-drive championship.