Breen reigns again but Fisher makes him work for victory in tight West Cork battle
Another virtually perfect drive saw Craig Breen take his second successive Irish Tarmac Championship victory in a row, winning the West Cork Rally by just over 20 seconds.
In a repeat of his Galway International success last month, Breen and his fellow Citroen WRC exiled co-driver Paul Nagle edged out the Ulster duo of Alastair Fisher and Gordon Noble in an all R5 Ford Fiesta one-two finish in Clonakility.
And as the Irish Tarmac and British championships combined for the first time this season, they saw off the cross channel challenge in which Tom Cave snatched third place away from reigning British champion Matt Edwards in an all Welsh duel.
Breen, axed by the Citroen team at the end of last season but now loving a return to his Irish roots, used all the experience of three years at the top level to master the tricky Cork conditions, which ranged from storm-force winds and pouring rain to bright sunshine.
He took the lead after stage two on Saturday morning and then confidently contained the challenge from the impressive Fisher, the Tyrone driver making just his second start after a year out. Breen's only hiccup was a spin late yesterday afternoon but for the most part he had it all under control, setting five fastest stage times to Fisher's four.
They were comfortably clear of the chasing pack with Cave finishing half-a-minute behind but crucially beating BRC championship leader Edwards by five seconds. Sam Moffett, the 2017 Tarmac champion, was a minute down in fifth ahead of Derry's former British Junior champion Callum Devine who is revelling in his step up to the R5 division.
But for many the testing Cork conditions brought trouble, reigning Tarmac champion Josh Moffett finishing down in seventh after his Fiesta suffered a broken driveshaft. Robert Barrable, Marty McCormack and Jonny Greer bettled through to complete the top 10 but others including five-time Cork winner Donagh Kelly, Desi Henry and Manus Kelly never made it beyond the first morning.
Kilrea youngster Josh McErlean won the BRC Junior category in his R2 Peugeot ahead of James Williams and Belfast driver William Creighton.
Meanwhile, there was disappointment for Charlie Eastwood in the World Endurance race at Sebring in Florida where he and his TF Sport Aston Martin team-mates Jonny Adam and Salih Yoluc were challenging for GTE/AM podium finish until damage to the car forced them into the pits for repairs. They finished sixth.