Joe McGonigle trots off with second Turkey Run victory
Joe McGonigle made it back-to-back wins in the Maiden City Club's end of season Turkey Run Rally at the former Shackleton military base, edging home by just three seconds in his McGeehan Motorsport WRC Mini.
The Muff man, partnered by Sean Hassett, led all the way on Saturday but was constantly under pressure from Alan Carmichael who was having only his second outing in an R5 Hyundai i20; indeed the Ballymoney driver shared top spot after the second of the five stages.
But despite suffering from flu, McGonigle pulled clear on the third stage, four seconds faster than Carmichael who could only close the gap by a second over the final two tests.
Desi Henry was third, a further two seconds back after a sluggish start in his R5 Skoda Fabia. He was 12 seconds off the pace after the first three stages but recovered rapidly to slash the deficit in half with two fastest times.
The top three were a minute clear of fourth placed Barry Morris, the top two-wheel-drive finisher in his Ford Escort, with Conor McCrossan fifth in his Fabia ahead of the Mitubishi Evo of Trevor McConnell.
Amy Cox produced another strong showing to finish seventh in Marty McCormack's S2000 Fabia, encouragingly one of two women along with Escort driver Janice Magee to take class wins.
There was disquiet among several drivers who were hit with maximum stage penalties for chicane infringements, ruling potential frontrunners like Callum Devine, Alan McGeehan and Philip Allen out of contention early on.
Meanwhile Matthew Mason in a little Nissan Micro won the Ulster Automobile Club's annual It's Not The Boxing Day Rally, he and navigator Davy Young coming from behind to snatch victory from the Peugeot 106 of Stephen Ferguson and Milton McWiliiams.
Peter Caldwell and Rory McPolin, the long-time leaders, dropped back over the final three tests to finish third in their Mazda MX5.