Declan Boyle put a troubled start to the season behind him to win the Cavan Rally for a second time. But more than anything, the former Irish Tarmac and National champion was pleased to finally have a clean run in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC ahead of more significant dates in the next month. First will be the national championship Circuit of Munster and then the all-important Donegal International.
Boyle and cousin co-driver Brian won by a seemingly comfortable 30-second margin over fierce rival Garry Jennings in his WRC Subaru but it wasn't entirely plain sailing. Leader for the first two stages yesterday was Marty McCormack in his R5 Skoda Fabia.
The Draperstown driver, fresh from two podium finishes in gravel rounds of the British championship, made a late decision to head to Cavan as preparation for the first tarmac round of the BRC series, the Ypres Rally in Belgium.
And McCormack hit the ground running, setting fastest times on the opening pair of stages to lead Boyle by seven seconds. However, a spin on stage three dropped him back to second, just ahead of Jennings who was out for the first time since winning the Galway International back in February.
It was the same stage second time around which caught out McCormack again, the Skoda clipping a post which knocked a rear wheel out of alignment and costing him more than 10 seconds. It also allowed Jennings into second but the final loop of three stages saw McCormack fight back, leaving the two of them tied with just the final stage to run.
A determined Jennings edged it by 1.8 seconds but McCormack was more than happy with third as he gets ready for the trip to Belgium.
Stephen Wright, just back from finishing third on the Sezeons Rally in Belgium, took fourth place in his R5 Ford Fiesta, with Gary Kiernan winning the two-wheel-drive category in fifth, ahead of Adrian Hetherington, both in Ford Escorts.
Meanwhile, Niall Murray and Kevin O'Hara were involved in two hectic battles in the rounds five and six of the Dawson-WAM Northern Ireland Formula Ford Championship at Kirkistown.
O'Hara was first over the line in race one but both he and Murray were penalised for exceeding track limits, dropping to second and third respectively and handing the victory to Portadown driver Noel Robinson.
Race two was red flagged twice, the first when Robinson was involved in an accident with James Roe. A second accident brought another re-start and this time Murray held off O'Hara for the win with Alan Davidson taking third place.
A wet and slippery Spamount hill climb near Castlederg was won by the four-wheel-drive Mitsubishi Evo of Gareth Sayers, who was also the event sponsor.