By David Fallon in Ireland

Ray Breen emerged victorious over his neighbour Andrew Purcell as the two south Kilkenny men traded stage wins throughout an eventful day's rallying in the Willie Loughman Memorial Rally in Ireland.

The event started at 5 am and gave the competitors their only taste of night rallying in Ireland this year.

The 2006 National Rally Champion, Ray Breen, with his son Craig calling the notes, reached the first service area at 7.15am, 11 seconds up on Purcell. Purcell had claimed stage 1 by 3 seconds from Breen, but Breen struck back taking 8 seconds off him in stage 2 and a further 6 by services.  One of the favourites, Denis Cronin ,went off in stage 3 and it cost the Cork man over 8 minutes, forcing his eventual retirement.

Following a two hour service, stage 4 saw Breen's Ford Focus two seconds faster than Purcell's Suburu Impreza. However Purcell claimed 5 seconds off Breen in the next stage and they shared the same time on stage 6 before returning for final services.

Breen again set the fastest time in stage 7 giving him a 10 second lead over Purcell. Third place was Colin Britton who also 10 seconds up on James Murphy.  But Murphy was to retire, joining Emma McKinstry and Kevin O'Kane as the rally drew to a close, all three drivers having been in the top ten.

Andrew Purcell lost 2 seconds to Ray Breen on stage 8, but only took 9 seconds back on the last stage. This meant that Ray Breen had won his first ever Forestry Rally event by 3 seconds and put him one point behind Purcell's 38 points in the Championship.

2nd Round of Hankook Tyres National Forest Rally Championship
1.      Ray Breen/Craig Breen   Ford Focus   41.28.
2.       Andrew Purcell/ Mick Courtney  Suburu Impreza  41.31
3.       Colin Britton/Arthur Kearns  Mitsubishi Evo 9  42.54
4.       John Reid/Enda Shields  Toyota Corolla WRC 44.58
5.       Sean Heaney/Liam McLoughlin  Mitsubishi Evo 9  45.30
6.       James Coleman/Michael Haley  Ford Escort 46.43
7.       John Reddington/Stephen Quin  Mitsubishi Evo 9  47.16
8.       Martin Brady/Colm Brady Ford Escort 47.56
9.       Connie Delaney/Ray Grace Suburu Impreza 48.00
10.   Alan Commins/Darren Coady Escort MK 2 48.26

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