An Grianan Hotel Harvest Rally 2015 – Boyle Wins – Back to Back!
After a hard 9 special stages across Inishowen terrain, the eventual winners, came to the finishers ramp at the An Grianan Hotel, Burt. This was a back to back win for the Donegal crew of Declan and Brian Boyle, in their Fiesta WRC with a winning margin of 1 minute and 35seconds, over second placed driver Gary Kiernan, and his co-driver, Niall Tierney, in a MkII Escort. This event was the final round of the 2015 Sligo Pallets Border Championship with many valuable points to decide classes for the season.
Early in the day, Padear Hurson and Damien Connolly in a Subaru WRC pushed all the buttons and were in the lead, making life hard for all who followed. The Boyles kept it steady, while other local interest drivers, such as PJ McDermott started cautiously on the first special stage.
Meanwhile Joe McGonigle and Ciaran Geaney, from Muff were making a steady, but hard-charge, in super quick and reliable, Skoda Fabia S20.
Everything was set for a real battle in the Donegal Harvest rally once again.
All change, PJ McDermott only completed stage 1, and did not get a complete recorded time for the second stage, nor complete the first loop of three stages.
Then after 3 stages, Hurson and Connolly, retired as well. The Boyle crew were going for it, with a ‘go for it now’ attitude, and a lead the field. Close behind was the Skoda, masterfully handled by the man from Muff, but the usually steady McGonigle, had a spin on at least one stage, and dropped some time. However, Boyle’s car suited the fast drying narrow stages, and kept the time margin that little bit safe to ensure the others such as Damien Gallagher, Wesley Patterson, Daniel McKenna, Damien Toner, Stephen McCann, Brian Brogan, Damien Tourish and Camillus Bradley all fighting for places in the top 10.
This was the pace for remainder of the afternoon, with three loops of 3 stages to complete. For Declan and Brian Boyle, it went well, leading the event, with Joe McGonigle in good 2nd place, with no close challenges for the remainder of the afternoon. For the young Skoda driver, Joe McGonigle, things changed dramatically. The usually reliable Skoda had a big problem on its was to the final stage of the day, and despite getting going again and finishing the 9th stage, too much time was lost on the road, causing a large ‘road penalty’ to be applied by the organisers costing the Muff crew 95 places in the finishers list.
The top 10 finishers remained steady as well, but Donegal Motor Club Chairman, Brian Brogan fell of the finisher list after the second loop, only completing 6 stages.