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Boyle braves storms to land third Irish crown

 

By Sammy Hamill

He may have been a distant eighth, more than three minutes behind winner Sam Moffett, but that was all it took for Declan Boyle to become Irish National rally champion for the third time.

Lettermacaward businessman Boyle and co-driver James O'Reilly carefully eased their WRC Ford Fiesta to the finish of the Donegal Harvest Rally to deny the other Moffett, Josh, the hat-trick of Irish titles which brother Sam have achieved in 2017.

The Moffetts dominated the Ballybofey-based final round of the Triton Showers series, Sam winning in his R5 Fiesta by eight seconds from the WRC Fiesta of Josh, but even if the younger Moffett had won - which he might have done had he not overshot a junction on the final stage - it wouldn't have been enough to bring him the national title to add to the Irish Tarmac and Forestry championships he has already.

Boyle knew he needed no more than a top 10 finish to become champion again, and although he felt unwell, he still coped with the atrocious conditions to top the championship standings by just six points.

Joe McGonigle was a further four points behind in third, losing a third place finish on the day to anther ex-champion Donagh Kelly, when his WRC Mini also suffered an overshoot on the final stage.

Declan Gallagher was the leading two-wheel-drive finisher in fifth in his Toyota Starlet but Chris Armstrong did enough to secure the championship in his Ford Escort after Stuart Darcy crashed out in his Darrian.

Craig Breen won the RallyLegends event in San Marino, steering a WRC Citroen C4 to victory ahead of Italian Luca Pedersoli in another C4 with Mikko Hirvonen finishing third in a WRC Ford Focus.

Kris Meeke also took part, the Dungannon driver making his first appearance in a rally since being axed by Citroen in May. But he was only part of the demonstration runs in a WRC Ford Fiesta.

Jordan Hone has been nominated for this year's Motorsport Ireland Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver Award for his performances in July and August.

The 22-year-old from Claudy, Co Derry, drove his Opel Adam to victory in the Junior class of the Jim Walsh Cork Forest Rally, taking 13th place overall. He also scored a class win in the Ulster International Rally three weeks later. Earlier in the year, Hone finished as runner-up in the Junior section of the Donegal International Rally, less than two seconds behind the eventual winner. He also took a Junior win in the Carlow Mini Stages Rally.

A student at Queen's University, he began rallying in 2013 at the age of 17, scoring a class win in his first ever event, and going on to take his class in the Northern Ireland Championship. He was NI Junior champion the following year, and won the Group N Production class in the Valvoline National Forestry series in 2017.

Meanwhile, Charlie Eastwood finished his first season in the World Endurance Championship with third place in the GTE category in Japan. He and TF Sport team-mates Johnny Adam and Salih Yoluc finished third in his Aston Martin at the end of the six-hour Mount Fuji race.

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