Josh Moffett has taken a shock Donegal International Rally victory as both leader Callum Devine and second-placed Matt Edwards crashed out.
Devine had led Edwards by 17.7 seconds heading into the final day, and his task was made that bit easier with the cancelation of the High Glen 1 stage “due to a bereavement and removal”.
But early on the very first stage of Sunday, held in damp but drying conditions, Devine slammed into a haybale chicane and heavily damaged the front of his Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.
Devine continued on but soon was forced to park up with radiator damage.
That elevated Edwards into a 19.2s lead and placed him perfectly for his first-ever Donegal victory at the first attempt at the rally, which was also his first event in a Citroën C3 Rally2, first event in any four-wheel-drive car since November and his first event with co-driver David Moynihan.
But unfortunately, early on the very next stage, Atlantic Drive, Edwards would also crash out and the stage was cancelled.
That opened the door to Moffett who wasn’t about to blow his shot. He had been supreme on Sunday’s opener, besting everyone by over six seconds to vault past Alastair Fisher into what became second place following Devine’s retirement.
The Irish Tarmac Championship leader was fastest again on the repeat run to extend his rally lead to 3.8s, putting the pressure on Fisher to respond.
But Fisher was denied the chance to challenge his rival as he hit a rock with the front-right tire and picked up a puncture, costing him over 45s. Fisher then lost more time without brakes on the final stage to drop from second to fifth place.
Moffett however was immune to the last day drama, and he cruised through the final stage to grab an emotional first-ever Donegal victory.
His eventual winning margin was 46.7s over his brother Sam Moffett, who jumped past Meirion Evans on SS18 of 20.
Moffett, drving a Ford Fiesta WRC beat Evans’ Polo R5 by just 2.4s.
Declan Boyle won the final stage to move up to fourth overall, finishing 8.3s behind in another Fiesta WRC.
Fifth place for Fisher was a huge disappointment as he felt he could challenge Moffett for the win, but he at least got third place in the ITRC points with the two WRC cars ahead of him ineligible to score.
Two-time Donegal winner Garry Jennings stole sixth place from Kevin Gallagher on the final stage as Gallagher was battling clutch problems in his Darrian T90 GTR.
The issues weren’t enough to deny Gallagher the Modified class win though, as he beat the similar Darrian of James Stafford by 1m00.8s.
Ford Fiesta R5 driver David Kelly took eighth overall away from Stafford on the last stage, as Declan Gallagher took 10th in his Toyota Starlet.
Eighteen-year-old Max McRae finished his first-ever European rally a strong third in class behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta Rally4