The Clare Motor Club Stages Rally got underway yesterday with a starting list of 98 crews preparing to do battle in extremely wet conditions over nine special stages around the Clare countryside.
In form local driver John Warren and his co-driver Ruthann O’Connor, fresh from fantastic results on the recent Galway Stages Rally and the Sligo Stages Rally, brought their McHale Fusion Toyota to the Banner county in search of another Top Mayo Crew finish and the possibly of a top 20 finish not to be discounted given their recent run of form.
It was hit the road at full throttle for the South Mayo pair, despite getting blocked on stage 1, coming across a car that had crashed, Warren and O’ Connor quickly put that out of their minds as they set the pace and came back to the first service in 16th place overall.
As the rain worsened on the second loop the pair were truly up for any challenges that lay ahead, as they moved even further up the leader board. Heading into the final loop they sat 2nd in Class 13 trailing 1st by just 20 seconds and in 13th place overall. John and Ruthann provided the spectators with some truly impressive driving in very wet conditions, despite not having the benefit of four wheel drive, and with visibility at a minimum in the torrential rain, the pair made a decision to concentrate on finishing as they entered the last stage.
"It was a great day, the stages were tight and tricky," said Warren, after emerging from the final stage in 15th place overall and 2nd in class. He had praise for his co-driver Ruthann, on what was a difficult outing in the conditions, and the tyres under his McHale Fusion Toyota.
"I really enjoyed it, the car worked like a speedboat in the floods! Ruthann worked so easy with me on the notes. I'm delighted with our position overall".
The event was won by Roy White from Tipperary in a Fiesta WRC with Corks Daniel Cronin second in a Fiesta R5 and Maynooth’s Ian Barrett in a Darrian T90 who had Mayo native Paul McGee on the notes in third.
Along with finishing third Barrett and McGee also picked up the much sought after “If in doubt, flat out” Colin McRae Perpetual cup, which goes to the fastest overall modified 2wd car of the day.