Boyle off to flyer as he leads chase for Donegal prize
Declan Boyle, seeking a first victory on his home round of the Irish Tarmac championship, edged into a five second lead at the end of the first leg of the Donegal International Rally.
The reigning Irish national champion had been involved in a day-long duel with last year's Donegal winner Sam Moffett, the lead see-sawing between Boyle's S12 Subaru and the less powerful but more nimble M-Sport Ford Fiesta of the young Monaghan driver.
Boyle, already winner of the Galway International and the Circuit of Ireland National, was fastest on three of the six first day stages with Moffett taking the other three as they pulled clear of the chasing pack which was headed by former Tarmac champion Darren Gass.
Making his first appearance since crashing out of the same event last year, Gass was 28 seconds off the lead after struggling initially to get to grips with his hired Subaru but finished strongly to overhaul Garry Jennings of the last stage of the leg.
Jennings, the 2012 Donegal winner, dropped to fourth, two seconds behind Gass as he fought to regain his confidence after crashing out of the lead of the Circuit at Easter.
The Ford Focus of Donagh Kelly was in fifth place with Derek McGarrity sixth in the McKinstry Motorsport Subaru which Moffett drove to victory last year.
Pat Kirk led the production category in seventh place overall ahead of the other Moffett, younger brother Josh, with Eugene Meegan third, all in Mitsubishis. Daniel McKenna, who shares the lead in the British championship in his role as Pirelli Star Driver, was back on board his own Mk2 Ford Escort and headed the national division ahead of Gary McPhillips and Manus Kelly.
Motorbike star Michael Dunlop survived his first day in a rally car to bring his Ford Escort back to Letterkenny last night in 17th position.
Meanwhile, Craig Breen's hopes of winning round five of the European championship, the Ypres Rally in Belgium, were dealt a savage blow when his Peugeot 208 T16 suffered a front wheel puncture which damaged a brake pipe. Former World S2000 champion Breen is back in 14th place.