Derek McGarrity leap of faith as he just overhauls rival Joe McGonigle
Having retired his new S14 Subaru after the first stage of last week's Tyrone Stages as a precaution when he felt the engine "tighten", Derek McGarrity was back up to speed for Saturday's Dogleap Rally and recorded his third win on the Maiden City Club's non-championship event.
But the reigning Northern Ireland champion in his WRC Impreza was taken down to the wire by Joe McGonigle, who finished just a second behind in his R5 Skoda Fabia.
Indeed, McGonigle had his nose in front after three of the six stages at the former Shackleton army base before McGarrity responded to snatch a late victory.
Alan Carmichael was half a minute behind in third in a Mini WRC having gained a place when last year's winner Alan McGeehan retired the sister Mini from the McGeehan Motorsport stable after stage four. Martin Cairns was fourth in his WRC Ford Fiesta with Connor McCloskey, now in an R5 Fiesta, taking fifth ahead of the Ford Escort of Barry Morris, the leading two-wheel-drive contender.
Despite losing out by such a tiny margin, the Dogleap proved an ideal warm-up for McGonigle who will back in action on home territory in the north west next week for the Ulster Rally. The full entry list is due to be announced tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Josh Moffett took eighth place in the Rally Rzeszow in Poland, moving up to fourth in the European Championship's Junior (under 28) standings.
The rally was won by Frenchman Bryan Bouffier, a former Polish champion, with Kajetan Kajetanowicz finishing second on his home round to re-take the lead in the overall ERC series.
Moffett's R5 Fiesta was plagued with brake problems in the soaring temperatures now being experienced on the continent and lost more than 40 seconds when he went off the road during the first leg.
And in Lithuania, Frank Kelly finished 17th overall in the Rally Rokiskis, winning the two-wheel-drive division in the international category in his Mk2 Ford Escort.