Kyle McBride secured his first Stellantis Motorsport Rally Cup IRE & UK victory of the season at the weekend, by taking victory at the Wilton Recycling Donegal International Rally [21-23 June].

The 21-year-old County Donegal driver battled with rival Peugeot 208 Rally4 driver Keelan Grogan throughout the arduous three-day event, but would grab the lead once and for all on the final day, holding on over the five tests to spray the champagne with co-driver Darragh Mullen and scoop the €3,000 first prize.

Despite his best efforts, Grogan couldn’t match McBride’s final day pace but enjoyed an impressive run to second place, taking home €1,750 and importantly, giving him and co-driver Ayrton Sherlock the Cup lead heading into the summer break. In another battle for position, it was Matthew Boyle and Gary Byrne who rounded out the podium, their €750 prize marking their maiden Cup podium of the season.

Promoted by Race & Rally, the new-for-2024 championship for both Peugeot 208 and Opel Corsa Rally4 machinery allows drivers to compete across eight, top-class events in Ireland and the UK and the iconic Donegal International Rally marked the halfway point of the season.

Three, long and testing days were on offer over classic County Donegal roads and McBride led from the outset but was chased hard by Welshman Ioan Lloyd who headed into the weekend at the top of the standings and with two wins so far. Try as he might, Lloyd couldn’t live with the home hero and after the opening day, was in second place, albeit just 10.3s shy. Even a final stage puncture couldn’t derail McBrides’ lead.

Grogan was a further 36 seconds back but clawed most of that back on Saturday’s opening Knockalla stage as McBride clipped the armco, setting scratch RC4 time and moving back into contention. Sadly Lloyd’s run would come to a premature end with a fire on board his 208. Meanwhile, Grogan’s charge was relentless, eventually overhauling McBride on Saturday afternoon to head into the final day just 1.9s ahead.

Behind, a three-way battle had also been brewing for the final podium spot between Casey Jay Coleman, Joseph Kelly and Matthew Boyle. Kelly held his own throughout much of Friday but would go off the road on Saturday, leaving Coleman and Boyle to fight it out across the remainder of the weekend, with Boyle just 5.6s to the good heading into Sunday.

The final day was not a traditional sprint, and although one test was cancelled, there were still five gruelling stages in store. McBride wasted no time, beating Grogan from the outset to regain the lead and despite a stage win from Grogan over Fanad Head, he was forced to settle for second to McBride.

Boyle rounded out the podium on only his second Stellantis Cup showing of the season, beating Coleman and co-driver Lorcan More to third by just 11.5s after three days of flat-out competition.

Sole Opel Corsa Rally4 contender John O’Rourke enjoyed a confidence-boosting run to fifth place and first non-junior home. After a troubled Rally of the Lakes, the Opel Motorsport driver headed to the non-championship Jim Clark Rally at the end of May, enjoying a solid result and finding his feet once again in the unique right-hand-drive example.

Kelly and co-driver Killian McArdle rejoined on the final day to take sixth, whilst Kalum Graffin suffered with a low seeding all weekend and thanks to sliding off the road on Friday afternoon, would have to settle for seventh.

Running as high as fifth on Saturday, Severn Valley winners Robert Proudlock and Steven Brown enjoyed their experience of the world-class Donegal stages but suffered clutch failure which led them to start the final day under Super Rally. Sadly they would go off the road for good on the tricky Atlantic Drive test.

The Stellantis Motorsport Rally Cup IRE & UK now heads into a short break, with the Voyonic Grampian Forest Rally marking the next event in the calendar in August as the series returns to the Probite British Rally Championship and the gravel near Aberdeen in Scotland.

Provisional Top 5 Stellantis Motorsport Rally Cup IRE & UK Points after round 4 – the Donegal International Rally

  1. Keelan Grogan/Ayrton Sherlock                 59
  2. Kyle McBride/Darragh Mullen                     58
  3. Ioan Lloyd/Sion Williams                               50
  4. Casey Jay Coleman/Lorcan Moore            44
  5. Michael Fitzgibbon/Carrie Ryan                 43


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