Devine joins exclusive club with Killarney win

Callum Devine's third Lakes success established him among the best of the best in the south-west


Names like Bertie Fisher, Billy Coleman and Austin MacHale are written into Irish rallying legend, especially when it comes to Killarney. A third Rally of the Lakes win has elevated Callum Devine to the same rank on the fourth round of this year’s Tarmac Championship.

The Volkswagen driver triumphed in the lanes around Ireland’s south-west, edging title rival Matt Edwards by 7.9 seconds after two days and 120 competitive miles. The 29-year-old’s Killarney hat-trick also demonstrates the ageing Polo R5 remains a force in Irish rallying.

Asked how it felt to be in such esteemed company, Devine said: “Yeah, it’s crazy. These are like idols, people I grew up watching. To be there three times in a row is fantastic.”


Devine's win moves him up to third in the Tarmac Championship standings

Devine had taken the lead of the rally on Saturday’s seventh stage, after early leader Keith Cronin dropped two minutes with a puncture aboard his Fiesta Rally2. Championship leader coming into Killarney, Cronin was demonstrating the sort of early form which had helped him to victory in Galway and West Cork earlier in the season. He won five stages, including an outstanding run through the 11-mile Ardgroom test where he stopped the clocks 18.2s faster than anybody.

The deflation turned a 33.3-second lead into sixth and a 1m46s deficit. Fastest time on the final stage of the day did at least allow him to move back up to fifth, but it was scant consolation.

“I’m gutted, there’s nothing more I can say,” Cronin said.

“I thought I heard a click on a left hander, there was no big impact or anything, we drove on it, then I could see it on right handers, it was starting to nose on a little bit, it was just slow puncture.”

Devine had been quickest out of the blocks, winning the first run up Moll’s Gap to lead after the opener. He remained second to Cronin through the morning and was chief beneficiary when his rival hit trouble.


A puncture on the penultimate stage on Saturday ended Keith Cronin's hopes of victory, but he retains the championship lead thanks to a brace of wins earlier in the season

Three-time British Rally Champion, Matt Edwards ended Saturday’s opening day 14.4s in arrears to Devine. He’d had a slow start, dropping 12.1s in the iconic opener.

The Welshman soon started to find his feet and spent the rest of Saturday clawing time back to ensure he was ready to take the fight to Devine on Sunday. Edwards cause hadn’t been helped through the opening day by catching the ailing leader in SS7 and suffering pop-off valve issues with his Ford.,

Škoda man Eddie Doherty ended day one in third spot, 35.5s off the front.

Six stages and a further 53.5 miles sat in wait on day two. Devine made the best start, adding nine-tenths of a second to his advantage on Sunday’s opener. Edwards struck back on the final stage of the morning loop to bring the gap back down to 13.5s.

Or at least that’s how it looked on the timesheets.


Three-time British champion Matt Edwards pushed Devine all the way, but fell 7.9 seconds short after 125 miles of stages

Heading into the final loop, the size of the gap was being debated after Edwards queried his time for the first run through the Meentoges stage. This would influence the narrative as the afternoon wore on and Edwards pressed for victory.

Going into the final 8.9-mile test, the gap was down to 8.7s. Or was it 3.7s?

As it turned out, it didn’t matter. Edwards couldn’t overturn Devine, who shadowed his rival with a time just 0.8s slower, guaranteeing him his first win of 2024 and his third on the bounce in Killarney.

After two retirements so far this season, the defending champion was in need of a score.

“We needed a win coming here,” the delighted Devine said. “It wasn’t easy, obviously. We were sampling different tires over the weekend but yeah, we’re delighted.”

Perhaps the hero of Sunday was Cronin, who set fastest time on four of six stages, as he hunted down the podium’s bottom step. He’d slashed a gap of more than a minute to under 20s with one stage still to run. Sadly for the four-time British champion, he ran out of miles and ended the event fourth by 16.2s.


Škoda man Eddie Doherty brought his Fabia Rally2 Evo home in third place

At the end of the final stage, Cronin’s co-driver, Mikie Galvin was disappointed with the result, but not with the pace. “The speed on the stages was absolutely incredible,” said Galvin.

“It was just a pity how it worked out for us. We weren’t in great form last night, it goes like that sometimes, but there’s plenty more to come.  I’m looking forward to the next one, it was a mighty weekend.”

It wasn’t a bad weekend for Cronin by any stretch, who retains the championship lead ahead of Edwards. Devine’s win moves him into third ahead of the absent Josh Moffett. Jonny Greer (Citroën C3 Rally2) and David Kelly (Volkswagen Polo R5) rounded out the top six.


Wales' Ioan Lloyd won the three-way fight for Rally4 honours after Ryan McHugh was slowed by rear suspension damage

In the Rally4 class, honors in a three-way fight went Wales’ Ioan Lloyd, who finished ahead of fellow Peugeot 208 driver Keelan Grogan, with Fiesta driver Ryan McHugh third.

McHugh had taken the lead late on Saturday, but Lloyd overturned an 8.6s deficit to jump from third to the lead on the first stage of Sunday morning. Rear suspension damage on the penultimate stage forced McHugh had to settle for third.