There was a grandstand finish to round three of the Motorsport Ireland Triton Showers National Rally Championship - the Hotel Kilmore Cavan Rally.
Eventual winners Josh Moffett and Keith Moriarty entered the final stage near Drung 0.3 of a second in arrears to Callum Devine and Noel O’Sullivan.
The Hyundai i20 crew dug deep over the challenging test, their task not helped by the melting tar caused by the day’s high temperatures, to turn the deficit into a 1.8-second victory.
“It was all or nothing, we took a lot of chances out there this evening,” said the Monaghan-based driver at the finish ramp at the Hotel Kilmore.
“It was a bit dusty out there this morning and in the end, the tar was slightly melting which made for a challenging day, but we are delighted. There is still a lot to play for in the championship, we needed a victory, it was important."
It was their second win of the 2023 Triton campaign after coming out on top on the Circuit of Kerry in April too.
Earlier in the day Moffett survived a hair-raising spin on stage five and overcame a mysterious engine management fault that resulted in the car’s engine cutting out.
Round one winners Devine and O’Sullivan were credited with a poor time on stage one, attributed to a malfunction within the event's timing system and this threw their concentration in the early part of the rally.
When the time was eventually corrected, just ahead of stage seven the Volkswagen Polo crew found themselves in the rally lead in the thick of a battle for overall honours.
Third seeds Desi Henry and Paddy Robinson made their maiden Triton Showers National Rally Championship appearance of the year and finished where they started in third.
“We had a few altercations with Cavan ditches, they jumped out in front of us,” said Henry.
His Citroen C2 Rally 3 also developed an engine management system similar to the one Moffett experienced.
“We overshot a junction, stalled and then the engine management system went into reboot mode for some reason,” he added.
Cathan McCourt and Barry McNulty were fourth in their first outing in a new Ford Fiesta. He admitted that he took the early part of the rally to get acquainted with his new mount.
David Kelly was on his first outing since an accident in the West Cork Rally in March and was using the rally to get some seat time ahead of his home event, the Donegal International Rally next month.
He and new co-driver Shane Buckley were fifth in another Citroen C3.
Former Triton Showers National Rally champion Declan Boyle (and co-driver Stephen Walsh) just managed to stay ahead of his son Michael in what was one of Boyle Junior’s best results to date. He finished seventh, one minute behind his father.
Just like the main rally, the modified category was decided on the last stage. Kevin Eves and Chris Melley entered the final stage some five seconds behind long-time rally leaders Daniel McKenna and Andrew Greenan.
The Toyota Corolla driver threw caution to the wind to take the category victory by just 0.1 of a second over his Ford Escort rival.
Dessie Keenan and Jason McKenna rounded out the top ten in their Ford Escort. The Monagan crew have not rallied since the Midland Moto in March and admitted it took until the latter part of the rally to get up to the same speed as their busier rivals.
Monaghan’s Jack McKenna and Damien Doherty won the Junior Rally, this was the Honda Civic crew’s third maximum score from as many starts this season.
Dylan Eves and Ryan Farrell won the Sligo Pallets Drive of the Day in their Class One Ford Fiesta.
Keelan Grogan and Ayrton Sherlock won that class in a Peugeot 208 Rally 4 who finished just 0.8 of a second clear of the second-placed crew of Ryan McHugh and Declan Boyle in a Ford Fiesta Rally 4.