BY CHRIS MCNULTY
DECLAN Boyle the blue Subaru at Parc Ferme after an eventful day on Saturday with the Lettermacaward man holding comfortable 37.2 second lead over Sam Moffett.
Boyle was fastest on four of the stages on Saturday to power into command.
“I just need to keep her steady now,” he said after Special Stage 13, Carnhill 2, the final stage of the day.
“I’m just aiming to stay on the road now.”
With Glen, Atlantic Drive and Fanad Head to come, though, he couldn’t exactly rest on the laurels, but there was no doubt that his advantage was significant.
Even allowing for some problems over the last stage – where Boyle complained of fuel starvation issues – he managed to increase his lead by nine seconds.
Just two cars – Boyle and Moffett – arrived unaffected from Carnhill with Darren Gass spinning and blocking the road as a result. Gass was 16 minutes on the stage and the remainder of the crews received a ‘scratch’ time.
SS 14, Gartan 2, was cancelled following an incident on the first running of that stage (SS 12) that saw a driver, a navigator and a spectator taken to Letterkenny General Hospital. Their injuries were said to be ‘not life threatening’ by officials.
Gass had been making inroads into Moffett’s time and was just 13.3 seconds after SS12, but his hopes of the man from Markethill in County Armagh went up when the Subaru encountered those difficulties.
Gass had been on the gas with fastest times on Garrygort 2 and Gartan 1 and had been over three seconds quicker than Moffett over that Garrygort stage.
Boyle, leading by 5.2 seconds overnight, had that gap wiped out and more after the opening run of Garrygort, where Moffett was quickest. He and James O’Reilly were a whopping six seconds ahead of Gass and 8.5 quicker than Boyle.
The wide, open, vast roads of Knockalla saw Boyle roar back in front of huge crowds on one of the true classics of Donegal.
“We just can’t keep up – we got wiped in there,” Moffett said.
Frosses man Donagh Kelly’s rally ended on SS 11, Carnhill, when he got caught on a square right at a farmyard.
By the close of play on Saturday – with Garry Jennings and Rory Kennedy well back in third – there were two horses out in front with that saddled by the Boyle cousins, Declan and Brian, looking the more likely over the final day.
PAT Kirk provided one of the comments of the day on Saturday. The Evo was encountering problems – having had the overnight lead in the group – and after Knockalla the Strabane man ventured: “My get up and go has got up and left.”
By the end of Saturday, it was Josh Moffett who was in a firm command of Group N.
Josh and John Rowan were 1 minute, 13.2 seconds ahead of Eugene Meegan and Sarah Whelan. Stephen McCann and Lisa O’Dowd were third and Aaron McHale – with Paul McGee on the notes – ended the day fourth in Group N, but it was Moffett, the 22-year-old,
DANIEL McKenna kept up the pulsating pace all through Saturday to give himself a 19.8-second lead on Gary McPhillips overnight. His times were such that he would have been sixth in the overall event were he competing.
The National Rally was his for the taking, though, as he set another blistering loop of times.
McPhillips himself was coming off stages with his navigator, Paul Sheridan, showing some fastest times on the notepad, but it was McKenna who was in the groove.
McPhillips was complaining of feeling unwell in the morning, but he recovered and was much better throughout the day, his times reflective of that.
The National side of things is where a lot of the attention is these days – and Saturday provided plenty of talking points.
By Saturday night, Conor Harvey and Gerard Callaghan were third on the leaderboard, the Letterkenny crew having ‘done donoughts’ after a spin on Knockalla earlier in the day. Brian Brogan and Damien McGettigan made it through some early gearbox issues and a stall at Garrygort.
Adrian Hetherington had a leaking fuel tank at the end of Knockalla but service sorted out his difficulties.
Daniel Conaghan left the road on Knockalla and Mark Alcorn – who had a 40-second lead in class 13 on Friday night – had a big off on Saturday’s first stage to end his participation, while Manus Kelly, who had earlier problems with no first gear in the Escort but traveling well considering, was out after Gartan 1.
Motorcycle king Michael Dunlop – who had James McNulty from Stranorlar beside him – didn’t come through Carnhill 1 and was gone owing to axle and engine problems.
FOR FULL RESULTS CLICK THE LINK HERE – http://results.shannonsportsit.ie/results.php
Manus Kelly and Donall Barrett, who will start umber one on the road this morning in their Subaru WRC,...