Strabane’s Sean Devine wins 2009 Fisher Engineering Lakeland Stages

September 14, 2009 by  
Filed under R 7: Lakeland Stages Rally

Winners of the 2009 Fisher Engineering Stages Rally, Sean Devine and Tony McDaid. picture:Jonathan MacDonald/MEDIAJAM COMMUNICATIONS

Strabane’s Sean Devine secured his second consecutive Hankook MSA N.I. Rally Championship victory at Saturday’s Fisher Engineering Stages Rally!

Navigated by Tony McDaid, the construction company owner sealed a start to finish win at the County Fermanagh event, finishing comfortably ahead of leading Group N crew, Alastair Fisher and Barry McNulty.

The tussle for the event spoils was expected to be a battle between the main championship contenders, Derek McGarrity and Kenny McKinstry, but both crews suffered various problems which thwarted their efforts.

Glengormley’s McGarrity, who leads the Hankook series, sealed a deal for Glenn Allen’s Toyota Corolla WRC on the eve of the rally. He decided to use his new mount at the Enniskillen Motor Club event but almost immediately hit trouble with a misted up windscreen.

Meanwhile, there was a troubled look on Kenny McKinstry’s face at the end of stage one. He had set second fastest time, one second slower than Devine, but was fiddling with his Subaru’s paddle gear-change. Some clutch troubles were causing him concerns, and a rushed re-program of the car’s ECU didn’t help the car’s handling characteristics during the second stage.

Not helped by a near overshoot, McKinstry’s problems saw him drop down the order after the second test. And with McGarrity also in trouble, it was Devine who reached the end of stage two leading the event by five seconds from Alastair Fisher and Barry McNulty, while Steven Whitford and Jonny Hart held third.

Only a handful of crews completed the second stage after it was stopped when Matthew Cathcart and Martin Brady had a massive accident in their Group N Subaru. Near the start of the stage, Cathcart lost control of his car after a jump. His Impreza hit a bank at high speed which threw the crew into multiple rolls over tree stumps. It was a massive accident but thankfully both crew members were able to walk away.

Back at the top, there were no such troubles for Sean Devine as he continued to set the pace. Through the long third stage, he was an impressive 23 seconds quicker than his nearest rivals, allowing him to cement his position at the top of the order. That set the scene for the day, and by the end of the rally, he had done more than enough to secure victory by more than 40 seconds from Alastair Fisher and Barry McNulty.

Fisher was overjoyed at taking second overall in his Group N Mitsubishi Lancer at what was his home event. The 21-year-old driver, who currently holds third overall in both the Irish Tarmac and British Rally Championships, also claimed maximum Sunoco Fuels Group N points in the process.

Jonathan Greer and Kirsty Riddick claimed the final podium position and second in Group N with their Mitsubishi, just 11 seconds behind Fisher. Enda McNulty and Ronan O’Kane moved up to fourth after Stephen Whitford retired with mechanical trouble during stage seven, while championship leader Derek McGarrity completed the top five.

The Superdrive two-wheel-drive category saw Frank Kelly and Liam Brennan emerge supreme in their Mark 2 Escort. The crew entertained the spectators with their spectacular sideways driving style, and they also claimed sixth overall in the process.

It was a tight battle between Kelly and Adrian Hetherington throughout the day, with Kelly snatching the 2WD win by five seconds at the finish. And in the Montgomery Motorsport historic category, Tommy O’Connell and Sean Magee took the category spoils.

But what of Banbridge’s Kenny McKinstry? His car troubles worsened on stage three when his clutch pedal stuck to the floor of his Subaru. He lost a couple of minutes during the test, but towards the end of the day, he set a couple of fastest times which pulled him back up to 10th overall.

With round seven of the Hankook N.I. Stage Rally Championship completed, attention now turns to Omagh Motor Club’s Bushwhacker Rally. Based at Omagh’s Silverbirch Hotel, action resumes at the forestry event on Saturday 26 September.

Go Motorsport

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