Cautious Kelly laps up Donegal hat-trick
He had only to go through the motions to complete his Joule Donegal International Rally hat-trick but it was still a relieved Manus Kelly who steered his S12 Subaru Impreza back to the Letterkenny finish last night.
He and co-driver Donall Barrett were the last men standing in the battle for outright victory, their main rivals falling by the wayside long before yesterday's final leg. Donagh Kelly, Declan Boyle, Darren Gass and Garry Jennings had all tried to deny Kelly his three wins in a row but they were long gone when the Subaru rolled up into the finish.
Jennings, also chasing a third win, had mounted a determined challenge, leading for a time and then fighting back after damaging a wheel of his Subaru on Friday afternoon. It cost the Kesh driver close to half-a-minute but a string of fastest times on Saturday saw him narrow the gap to Kelly to just eight seconds only for him to crash out.
It left Kelly with a lead of more than one-and-a-half minutes over a chasing pack of Irish Tarmac Championship contenders in their lower powered R5 cars. But while he could cautiously ease the WRC Impreza through yesterday's final leg, they were at it hammer and tongs with the sibling rivalry of the Moffett brothers in their R5 Ford Fiestas at the forefront.
Josh, the championship leader, had been at the head of the pack through Friday and Saturday but Sam, the reigning champion, came storming back yesterday, setting outright fastest times on four of the six stages to reel in his brother and snatch second place overall.
Behind them came two of Irish rallying's rising stars, Rob Duggan and Callum Devine, both R5 rookies, who lasted championship contenders like Robert Barrable and Desi Henry to finish fourth and fifth.
Meanwhile, Toyota finally got their coveted Le Mans 24-Hour race win and with it Fernando Alonso took another step towards his aim of motorsport's Triple Crown.
The former F1 World champion was part of the crew of the Toyota Hybrid prototype which took victory in a one-two finish for the Japanese manufacturer, Alonso sharing the winning car with Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima.
They finished one lap ahead of the sister car of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez allowing Alonso to complete two legs of the elusive Monaco GP, Le Mans and the Indianapolis 500.
There was late heartbreak for Charlie Eastwood when the TF Sport Aston Martin he was sharing with Euan Hankey and Sahil Yoluc stopped out on the circuit with driveshaft failure less than 90 minutes from the end.