MAGUIRE BEATS LATE DRAMA FOR GALWAY VICTORY
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overshoots, one of them into a field.
Mcveigh subsequently upped his pace throughout the day. It didn’t appear that he had any chance of catching Niall Maguire, but he had a real go at catching second-placed Kiernan.
Mcveigh was fastest through the penultimate stage but then on the final test Frank Kelly, who was running third on the road, crashed his Ford Escort heavily and curtailed the stage.
Thankfully Kelly and his co-driver Paul Twomey were unhurt, but the following cars got a nominal time, which was Mcveigh’s actual time.
Between Maguire’s puncture and the nominal time, just 7s covered the top three at the finish. For his part, Kiernan drove a very good rally. This was his first outing with a 2.5-litre engine in his Escort. He made no mistakes, drove beautifully all day, and kept some very experienced top Escort crews at bay.
Brian Brogan, Damien Toner and Adrian Hetherington, all experienced class 14 Escort men, made up the top six.
Shane Maguire finished 14th in his Mitsubishi Lancer, and won Group N from Cathan Mccourt in a similar Mitsubishi.
Michael Boyle from Donegal, co-driven by Dermot Mccafferty in a Honda Civic, had an outstanding drive to win the Junior category (just six stages) by almost three minutes from Mark Murphy/michael Hamilton, also in a Civic. Michael son of 2014 Irish Tarmac champion Declan, had a really clean run on this rally. The result has earned him the Junior Championship win on the Border series.
There was another Tarmac champion out and about on the Galway Summer Stages. Donagh Kelly was competing in a Mk1 Escort – with his 17-year-old son Eamonn co-driving – and they won their class.
Sport has an incredible way of inducing emotion, when participating or even watching from afar.
The recent Olympics in Rio brought home just how evocative sport can be; almost getting carried away in the emotion of the Team GB women’s hockey team scoring a shock victory at the end of a penalty shoot-out in the final. Or even arguably the greatest athlete of all time, Usain Bolt, winning his ninth gold medal in the 400 metre relay, never mind the ever-humble Mo Farah securing his second double gold in successive games.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of pain that drives emotion too; look no further than the inconsolable Lutalo Muhammad who lost the taekwondo gold medal in the very last second of the final.
Sebastien Loeb has experienced many highs and lows in his exceptional motorsport career, although admittedly mainly highs. When the rally legend first first sampled rallycross in Europe, in 2013, at his home round of the European Rallycross Championship, he drew an extraordinary crowd to the popular event.
Such is the popularity of the Frenchman at home that late into the evening in the Loheac paddock, long after the team had finished working on Loeb’s Citroen, onlookers still crowded around the awning to feel part of something special. Largely due to the calibre of his steed, Loeb didn’t make the final three years ago. Now a permanent fixture in the FIA World Rallycross Championship, Loeb will return to Loheac this weekend for the eighth round of the championship.
However, somewhat surprisingly to some, the nine-time WRC champ is yet to score a victory. Last time out in Canada, Loeb didn’t even make the final, his Peugeot not having the legs of the opposition on a power-critical circuit. The characteristics of Loheac are different to those of Trois-rivieres however. The smooth, flowing nature of the French track will suit the Peugeot-hansen 208, and is the first and only circuit of the year that Loeb has raced on before. This weekend is Loeb’s best opportunity so far to stand atop the World RX rostrum. Twelve months ago, Swede Timmy Hansen won Peugeot’s home event.
The atmosphere from the sell-out crowd when the 208 crossed the finish line of the final was electrifying, and even brought emotion out of Peugeot-hansen’s team principal, the usually temperate Kenneth Hansen.
Loeb will draw a huge crowd by just competing in the Brittany event this weekend. If he was to score victory – which is far from out of the question – the French fans will be beside themselves.