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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.

Maguire scored first over­all rally win of the year de­spite last-stage tyre drama

Fans will flock to see Se­bastien Loeb in France

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