Bulldog International Rally: Donnelly’s career on up after double triumph
It was a double celebration for Mark Donnelly at the end of the Bulldog International Rally in Wales.
The 20-year-old University of Ulster student from Omagh won the two-wheel-drive category on round two of the British championship and afterwards was picked out for the Pirelli Star Award, giving him the opportunity to go forward to the end-of-season shootout which carries a sponsored drive in next year’s series.
In fact it was last year’s shootout winner Elfyn Evans who steered the Pirelli-backed Subaru to overall victory on his home event, the young Welshman winning comfortably ahead of Scot David Bogie (Mitsubishi), winner of the first round.
England’s Adam Gould (Subaru) was third ahead of Ulsterman Jonny Greer who continues to gather pace as he adapts to his new S2000 Skoda Fabia.
But the big battle involved Donnelly and his fellow Ulsterman Marty McCormack in the two-wheel-drive category.
Both of them were in new cars — cars they had only seen two days prior to the start. And it was McCormack who settled into his French-run Citroen DS3 quickest, building up a 10-second lead over Donnelly’s Finnish-prepared Renault Clio.
But Donnelly, runner-up in both the UK and Irish Citroen Trophy competitions last season, fought back, grabbing the lead on stage seven only to lose it again on stage eight.
He was back in front again on stage nine, despite sliding the Clio into a ditch, and when McCormack stalled his Citroen on the startline of the last stage, Donnel
ly swept through to win by six seconds. They finished in seventh and eighth positions overall with Ulster Rally winner Craig Breen taking ninth and the R2 category in his Ford Fiesta.
Meanwhile, Armagh’s Darren Gass scored his biggest win to date with victory on the Circuit of Kerry.