Belfast Telegraph

Now or never for Gareth in Donegal

By Sammy Hamill

It isn’t all over yet for Gareth MacHale but it almost certainly will be if he doesn’t win this weekend’s Topaz Donegal International Rally.

The overwhelming favourite to emulate his father and become Irish Tarmac champion at the start of the year, he made the perfect start by winning the opening round in Galway back in February. But since then his challenge for the Citroen series has taken a serious wobble.

With his Ford Focus hampered by a mysterious misfire, MacHale did well to salvage second place on the Circuit of Ireland but worse was to follow on the Rally of the Lakes where the M-Sport WRC machine was sidelined after just one stage.

From leading the championship, the 28-year-old Dubliner has slipped to fourth in the standings, seven points behind surprise leader Alastair Fisher.

But now it is Donegal where he won his first Tarmac international 12 months ago.

With fair weather forecast and fast undulating stages in prospect, which won’t suit Fisher’s production Mitsubishi, MacHale is the man to beat with Derek McGarrity opting out to concentrate on his Irish national title bid.

“With just six rounds this year and bonus points for the production drivers, there isn’t much room for mistakes,” said MacHale .

It all begins from Letterkenny tomorrow at 10.15 am.

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