DECLAN McCrory endured an eventful but ultimately fruitful start to the Triton Showers National Rally Championship when he won class five at the Mayo Stages Rally.
The Clady man, assisted by Stephen O’Hanlon endured plenty of ‘ups and downs, ons and offs’ on his way to sixth place overall, while Dunmanagh’s Niall Devine, who had Liam McIntyre on the notes, guided his Mitsubishi Evo to eight overall and first in class four.
For McCrory and his Ford Fiesta R5, things started inauspiciously with a transmission problem causing them to slow up somewhat and slide off twice on the third stage.
Having lost around one minute of time, their hopes of overall victory were gone already but from 24th overall and fifth in class McCrory and O’Hanlon mounted an eye-catching repsonse following some hard graft from the R317 Motorsport crew during service.
McCrory took a different mindset into the second loop, mounting a charge to close down the class leaders. With some fantastic times over the next three stages, they had moved up to third in the class and 12th overall.
Now with a more positive frame of mind, McCrory faced the new challenges presented by rain head-on during the third loop of stages.
By the end of stage seven, he and O’Hanlon were class leaders, but only just because between them and third place was less than two seconds!
They managed to hold off Paul Rowley and David Carney over the last two stages to secure the class win by 16 seconds and sixth place overall.
“I want to say thanks to the guys in service for keeping the car on the road and also to Frank Wray and Aidan Wray for doing the gravel notes,” said McCrory, who was also keen to pay tribute to the event organisers, marshalls and his co-driver, O’Hanlon.