Belfast Telegraph

Sports Awards

Kelly leaves it late to seal win in Monaghan


By Sammy Hamill

Donagh Kelly won the Monaghan Rally, finally overhauling long-time leader Sam Moffett on the last of the nine stages.

The former Irish Tarmac champion found himself 18 seconds behind Moffett's R5 Ford Fiesta after hitting a bank on the slippery opening stage but gradually the power of his WRC Ford Focus allowed him to whittle away at the gap as the roads dried.

Kelly was still four seconds behind entering the final stage but he was six seconds quicker to snatch victory by 1.8 seconds and reverse the result of 2017. It was Kelly's third win of the season, including the West Cork International.

Niall Maguire was third in his WRC Subaru, nearly two minutes down on the leaders.

Stephen Wright finished fourth in his R5 Fiesta with Desi Henry fifth after his R5 Skoda suffered a third stage puncture which he staooped to change, dropping some three minutes.

Adrian Hetherington was the top two-wheel-drive finisher in sixth place in his Ford Escort.

Josh Moffett, the Tarmac championship leader, and former champion Declan Boyle, were early casualties, both retiring their WRC Fiestas before the first service halt.

John Bradley in his Ford Escort won the Maiden City Club's Shackleton Rally staged at the former Ballykelly military base. PJ McDermott led for the first three stages but spun his WRC Subaru on stage four, dropping 12 seconds and allowing Bradley into the lead.

He went on to win by eight seconds with Pauric Duffy taking third place a further two seconds behind in his R5 Ford Fiesta.

Meanwhile, Andrew Watson was the highest places of the Ulster drivers in the pening round of the Blancpain European GT Endurance Championship at the Monza circuit in Italy.

The Donaghmore driver and his Garage 59 McLaren team-mates Come Ledogar and Ben Barnicoat finished in 15th place just over a minute down on the winning Audi of the Belgian WRT team.

And there was an impressive GT debut for Charlie Eastwood who finished 19th in the Oman Racing Aston Martin Vantage he shared with Ahmad Al Harthy and Euan McKay.

Car trouble saw them miss much of free practice but it showed strong pace during the race, especially in Eastwood's hands. The Porsche Carrera Cup champion from Belfast took over for the final hour a lap down on the leaders but he matched pace with them to claw his way into the top 20.

Steven Kane was expected to be to be among the front runners in the new Bentley Continental GT3 but team-mate Guy Smith was involved in an early clash with a Ferrari and was handed a drive-through penalty which saw them fall back to finish 24th.

Belfast Telegraph

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