Damien Tourish and his co-driver Domhall McAllaney scored their second Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge Ireland victory of the season on last weekend's Riverbank House Hotel Dick Bailey Stages - their performance good enough to see them finish third overall.

They led from the start, holding off the advances of Owen Murphy/Rodney Hicks who finished a clear second, the young Cork driver claiming the runner-up spot for the third time this season.

The event, better known as the Wexford Rally, featured 207 competitive kilometres split into eight stages on Saturday and a further eight stages on Sunday, with a service halt after every two.

Of the ten crews registered for the Irish Evolution Challenge, six had initially entered, but even before the start, Galway driver Tom Curley had to withdraw due to a recurring back injury - leaving five crews to contest the series' fifth and penultimate round.

Saturday started wet. However, that didn't stop Tourish/McAllaney making their intentions clear from the word go and they exited the first stage 15 seconds ahead of Murphy/Hicks, who were frustrated to have been slowed after catching other cars.

As the weather improved and the roads started to dry out, the pace increased - but Tourish kept his cool and continued to extend his lead. However, luck was certainly running with him, as he managed to survive a disintegrating brake disk, which was discovered by his team at the lunch-time service halt.

On the final stage of the day Murphy was at last able to set a faster time than Tourish, but was now one-minute and nine seconds behind. Next was winner of rounds one and three Brendan Cumiskey, who had rebuilt his car following a series of incidents last time out. With this in mind, he and co-driver Conor Foley admitted not to be driving flat-out in order to keep their championship hopes intact.

They were followed by current series leaders Alan Carmichael/Ivor Lamont, who were also not completely happy with the way things were going - especially after most of their car's major mechanical components had been overhauled in the past few weeks.

Stanley Ballentine/Richard Hyland held fifth place and, although setting respectable times, were keen on keeping out of trouble in light of their accident on round four. In fact, such was the damage to his familiar blue Evo, Ballentine was forced to use his 'spare' white car in which he had started the season.

With the rain clouds disappearing overnight, all of Sunday's stages were run in the dry, the first of which was cancelled due to a problem with the time clocks. With more grip on offer and finding himself in third place overall, Tourish tested the conditions to see if he could perhaps claim second place, but a spin on SS11 quickly changed his mind. From then on he focussed on the task he had set himself in Wexford - and that was to score maximum points in the Evolution Challenge.

Although they got quicker as the day progressed, Murphy/Hicks found they could do little to make an impact on the leader's advantage. However, they were now comfortably ahead of Cumiskey/Foley, who were aiming to ensure they finished in front of Carmichael/Lamont, which would put them in a better position for the final round.

Although still fifth, Ballentine/Hyland's pace had steadily increased during Sunday, to such an extent they were beginning to make an impression on fourth place, but they had left their charge too late and, at the end of the event positions in the Evo Challenge remained the same.

"I really enjoyed this rally - especially as I've won my second round of the Evolution Challenge and finished third overall", said Tourish. "I really must thank the team from Ballybofey for preparing the car so well and now I'm looking forward to the last round where it's going to be a really tough battle for the title."

With the end of season points' totals being calculated from competitor's best five scores from the six events, although currently leading the series, Carmichael has to drop his lowest score of seven points. Therefore, with all other drivers having dropped a score and 12 points on tap for the winner, Cumiskey, Tourish and Murphy also have a chance of becoming the very first Irish Evolution Challenge Champion.

The sixth and final round of the year takes place on September 27-28, with another classic event, the West Cork Rally - the climax to what has been an exciting inaugural season for the Irish Mitsubishi series.