Brian Hoy navigated Callum Devine to their first ever rally win on the Donegal Harvest Rally on Saturday. The pair took the lead on the first stage, and withheld sustained pressure from Josh Moffatt to claim the top spot on the latest round of the National Border Championship.

The pair had already claimed third overall in the Irish Tarmac Championship but there was a feeling of frustration when they failed to capitalise on the absence of several big names on the final round in Cork. Despite Craig Breen and Alastair Fisher not entering the event, Callum and Brian could not seal the victory on that occasion and had to wait another two weeks to spray the champagne.

“It was class,” admitted Brian. “We went to a few rallies this year thinking we could have won. Callum never let on but it was kind of like a wee gremlin that he wanted to get one over the line and get his confidence build up. The plan in Cork was to win but it didn’t happen so he was relieved with this one, and if we are ever leading a bigger rally now it will be one less thing to worry about. That is off his back now and it has been a good year. It was a massive help having Fisher and Breen to race against. They are two boys with world quality. He used to be setting his sights on European rallying but you aren’t going to get any better quality than those two boys to race against and he showed that he could race against them.”

Callum and Brian opened up a slender lead of six seconds over the first two stages of the nine stage rally, but it was not until the final stage that they were in a position to relax as Josh Moffatt’s challenge faded. “We had a wee half overshoot on the third stage and Josh was six seconds quicker which brought the gap down to three seconds,” explained Brian. “We took three on the next stage and then we spun again on the fifth stage which lost us four seconds and narrowed the deficit again. There was torrential rain on the sixth stage. It was brutal but it was the same for everyone. We were fastest again by three on the seventh stage. On the eighth stage Josh obviously went for a big push and he spun and we took 25 seconds off him, and that was it then.”

Although Brian does not foresee another rally on home soil this year he is hopeful of one more outing further afield, with an eye on a European challenge for 2020. “We are planning for next year but nothing is set in stone yet,” he said. “He is hoping to get one rally before the end of the year outside of Ireland but nothing is confirmed yet, and he hopes maybe to contest the European championship next year but it’s just about gathering up a budget.

Elsewhere in the rally Declan Campbell was battling for the honours in class 12 in his Ford Escort. He made a good start establishing himself in the top three after the first stage, and although he briefly slipped to fourth midway through the event, he recovered his third position on the penultimate stage to claim a podium finish in the class.