The Donegal Forestry Rally proved a frustrating event for local crews, with the quartet of Fermanagh drivers all suffering problems on a day of drama at the Donegal Town based event.

Jon Armstrong, Jonny Leonard, Shane McGirr and Damien McGauran all had high hopes going into the rally but all suffered their own issues over the eight loose surface stages.

Jonny Leonard is battling for points in the Irish National Forestry Championship and was hoping for a good finish to maintain his push for the group N title.

He made a promising start posting a time within half a second of the class leader on the opening stage, but his rally came to an abrupt end on the next stage when he slid wide and collided with a tree stump, damaging the suspension and forcing him into retirement.

“Nine times out of ten we would have got away with it but this time we didn’t unfortunately,” said Jonny.

“It was a bit of a disappointment but we have plenty of time to regroup before the next round in July.”

Jon Armstrong’s main focus for the season is his appearance at the wheel of a Fiesta in two rounds of the World Rally Championship later in the year, but he switched cars to a four wheel drive Mitsubishi for the Donegal event.

He adapted quickly to the change of machinery and set a fastest overall stage time as he recovered from an early spin to lie third at the half way point.

His challenge came to a halt on the penultimate stage however when an electrical problem signalled the end of his rally.

Shane McGirr and co-driver Martin McGarrity were one of the favourites for the two wheel drive honours but the Starlet driver suffered a succession of problems from the first stage that prevented him from battling for the lead. Despite his problems and a puncture on stage four he held second in class at the midway point. A second puncture on stage six meant he had to borrow rival Mickey Conlon’s spare to get through the loop of stages, and on the final test exhaust fumes in the car allowed Conlon to slip past, relegating McGirr to third in class.

Damien McGauran had taken his distinctive BMW into the top twenty before dropping down to outside the top forty when he hit trouble, but a good recovery drive lifted him to an overall finishing position of twenty second.