Damien Tourish and co-driver Domhall McAllaney recorded their third Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge Ireland victory in a row on the Murphy Construction/Weathermaster Cork 20 Rally last weekend.
However, their perfect performance in the second half of the season was still not enough to claim the series title - that accolade going to Brendan Cumiskey, who's third place was enough for him to become the very first Irish Evolution Challenge Champion.
Taking place on September 27-28, the Cork “20” Rally is a classic in the Irish motorsport calendar. This year's event featured eight stages on Saturday followed by a further six on Sunday, the total of which provided crews with an overall competitive distance of 240 kilometres.
Before the event, four drivers were in a position to win the Mitsubishi series crown, with Cumiskey best placed to achieve success, having only to finish fifth or higher in order to claim the title.
However, although this appeared easy on paper, in reality it soon became a different matter when, about four kilometres before the end of the first stage, the Dundalk driver slid straight-on at a junction and planted his Mitsubishi into a hedge. With significant damage to the front of his car, coupled with a leaking radiator, he and co-driver Connor Foley were lucky to make it out of the stage.
Needing to stem the water-loss somehow, the resourceful crew stopped at the nearest shop and bought a supply of chewing gum and eggs, which they proceed to insert into the damaged radiator before topping it up with water. With the second stage stopped because of an accident, Cumiskey/Foley were given a notional time, which in-turn helped them stay in contention. Thankfully the first service halt followed and their car was repaired.
Fastest of the Mitsubishi crews on the opening stage were Owen Murphy/Rodney Hicks. However, their advantage was quickly lost in SS2 when they first clipped a rock and punctured the front-left tyre and then, with the car not handling erratically, they clipped something else and punctured the right rear tyre.
With only one spare on board they stopped and changed the front wheel, but unfortunately the flailing rubber from the rear damaged some of their car's wiring - just before they made it back to service - and their rally came to a halt.
Other Evo Challengers to fall foul of the opening stages were Michael Murray/Thomas Maguire, who clipped a bank and damaged their Lancer's intercooler. Although managing to fix things at the side of the road, they too were late into service and went over their maximum time allowed.