Nesbitt wins Shell Donegal International Rally

Armagh’s Andrew Nesbitt drove into the record books with a fifth victory in the Shell Donegal International Rally in Letterkenny today.

Once he moved into the lead yesterday, it was going to something special from his rivals to dislodge the Armagh driver from top spot.

Able for the challenge, his pace in the Pirelli shod Mitsubishi was superb and unrelenting in this, the fourth round of the Pirelli Irish Tarmac Championship.

Stage by stage he punched in fastest time and quickly built on his 22-second overnight lead. He strengthened his position after today’s opening three stages.

However, second placed Mark Higgins, also in a Mitsubishi, was in no mood to give Nesbitt an easy run, his efforts leading to an altercation that reshaped the side of his Mitsubishi. He finished second 26.6 seconds behind.

Young Dubliner Gareth MacHale set a few fastest times in his Ford focus WRC to secure a deserved third from Derek McGarrity (Subaru), who almost came a cropper on Stage 18 at a location that claimed the Subaru of Kevin Lynch.

Matthew Wilson also retired, his Ford Focus stopped with an ECU problem.

Eamonn Boland finished fifth to remain second in the Pirelli Irish Tarmac Championship.

In a fine battle for places and points, Eugene Donnelly brought his Toyota Corolla WRC home in sixth after he moved ahead of Austin MacHale in the closing stages.

The top ten also featured Paul Harris, who lost time with an off road excursion; Patrick Elliott and Stephen Murphy.

Shaun Gallagher (Mitsubishi) won Group N from Seamus Leonard and Roy White, also in Mitsubishi’s.

The legendary Colin McRae won the National category in his Metro 6R4.

Result:

1. A. Nesbitt/J. O'Brien (Mitsubishi WRC) 2h 32m 11.6s.

2. M. Higgins/R. Kennedy (Mitsubishi WRC) 2h 32m 38.2s.

3. G. MacHale/P. Nagle (Ford Focus WRC) 2h 33m 07.2s.

4. D. McGarrity/C. Patterson (Subaru WRC) 2h 33m 25.5s.

5. E. Boland/F. Regan (Ford Focus WRC) 2h 35m 28.3s.

6. E. Donnelly/P. Kiely (Toyota Corolla) 2h 36m 29.3s

7. A. MacHale/B. Murphy (Ford Focus WRC) 2h 36m 50.9s.

8. P. Harris/E. O’Donnell (Toyota Corolla WRC) 2h 39m 19s.

9. P. Elliott/P. Goodman (Subaru WRC) 2h 39m 44.7s.

10. S. Murphy/M. J. Morrissey (Subaru WRC) 2h 42m 22.8s

National

1. C. McRae/N. Grist (Metro 6R4) 2h 38m 31.0s.

2. D. Keenan/P. Garry (Escort) 2h 38m 31.0s

3. C. Bradley/D. O’Neill (Escort) 2h 46m 45.3s

4. D. Gallagher/M. Walsh (Toyota Corolla) 2h 47m 41.8s

5. R. Peoples/K. Stewart/ (Escort) 2h 49m 09.6s

6. B. Brogan/D. McGettigan (Escort) 2h 49m 51.3s.

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