Darren Gass took the honours at the Safety Direct Galway International Rally after a dramatic day on the roads in the West.
The 23-year-old won the event in his Subaru Impreza by 1.3 seconds from Eugene Donnelly with last year’s champion Tim McNulty finishing 6.4 seconds behind the winner.
It was McNulty who set the early pace in his Subaru winning the first spectator stage at Dyke Road in Galway city. From there McNulty increased his lead over the first three stages to lead by 22.3 seconds from Eugene Donnelly in his Mini WRC with Gass in third.
With Stage 4 cancelled, McNulty continued to set the pace on Stage 5 extending his lead to 30 seconds from Donnelly and 49 seconds from Gass. However is was Stage 6 that changed the event as McNulty hit two bales damaging his suspension and it was from here that the Meath man began to lose pace.
Gass and Donnelly continued to cut McNulty’s lead over stages 7 and 8 before Gass took the lead outright on Stage 9 to lead by 9.2 seconds from McNulty and Donnelly in third, 17 seconds back. The Armagh native held out on the final stage to win by just over a second from Donnelly and McNulty in third.
This win puts Gass on top of the Irish Tarmac Leaderboard after this first round of championship with the next event being the Circuit of Ireland rally in across the Easter weekend in April.