Haran and Benson among the winners
On a typical Irish summer Sunday, with emerging showers on the horizon, Sligo Stages Rally kicked off from parc ferme with drivers undecided on tyre choices hitting the first loop of tests.
For the leading drivers it was never going to throw any surprises into the pot, no one was going to upset Sam Moffett's dominance on the National title, and with five wins to his credit , another would confirm the championship. This was the outcome even with the best efforts from Declan Boyle who unfortunately retired having encountered a puncture on the penultimate stage.
All eyes locally was on Enda Haran who was debuting a hired Class 14 animal, and with no stage mileage recently or on this car, how he was going to have to tame the Escort on wet conditions. His ability was unquestioned and apart from a close shave on the near left , he returned to the finish ramp, grasping the class 14 honours.
The other local crew, Jason Currid and Sharon Clarke, in a somewhat similar hired Escort, was a template to be measured off, and while they were never much off the their club comrades' times, Haran's extra horses came to the fore. The North Sligo crew picked up the Mc Landscapes fastest local crew award for their efforts. Long time competitor, Dominic McLoughlin and nephew Brian rekindled their past history, finishing at 28th overall picked up the club award.
Dominating a seriously competitive Class 11f Alan Lawson and Sean Harte secured a class win finishing just behind Dominic on the leaderboard. Untouchable in Class 10 , the Gevagh brothers Martin and James Ewing had a comfortable lead in their humble but reliable Peugeot 205, picking up the class award.
Grange crew Colin Currid and Paul Gallagher had the benefit of a the experience on a number of neighbouring events this year which stood them well to come second in a tricky Class 12. Joint event title sponsor, Ciaran Phelan ably assisted by daughter Aine took their National Automation Civic across the finish ramp and pick up second in Class 11f .Dromahair pairing Kieran Carroll and Tony Curran were the third club crew to be on the 11f class awards table, it was a very credible result. Ballinful's Phillip Harte rekindled his past successes in the Class 9 Nova to capture the second in Class.
Patrick Herity and Seamus Dolan ran a faultless event and finished just outside the awards. South Sligo comrades Art Mc Carrick and Leigh Cavanagh took third in the Class 1 Civic. Manorhamilton's Stephen Reynolds finished 55th overall , encountering some drama along the way. Brothers Tony and Kevin O'Brien , were consistent in bring the Civic home at 56th overall. Gurteen natives Davy Hunt and Gillian Gilmartin also in class 11f, brought their rare Peugeot 106 home at 58th spot.
Being the second of the Clarke family in the awards , Sam picked up 3rd in Class 10navigating for Marty Mc Guigan. Raymond Giileece and Anthony Gilligan took their Civic to third in Class 3.
Ballymote crew David Quinn and James Mc Dermott took their BMW to a 64th overall. Deirdre Benson on her first rally , with Ferlin Taylor on the notes took her recently acquired Honda Civic to the finish and picked up a special ladies award. North Sligo's Stephen Brady and John Conway recovered mechanical issues earlier on to finish.