We enjoyed a strong start to the 2017 Donegal International Rally with our latest Porsche 997 R-GT rally car. Always a spectator favourite, the car was also a hit with new owner, John Coyne, and co-driver, Stephen Joyce.
The first day of this three-day event consisted of a three-stage circuit, run once in the morning and repeated in the late afternoon. The weather was good for spectators – the rain held off for the duration and the sun stayed behind the clouds most of the day – so there was no shortage of people to watch this R-GT car on its maiden event.
Overall, it was a very satisfying first day for the 997 and crew. The car ran absolutely reliably and the paddle shift system proved seamless. The only damage was to a couple of sump guard bolts, ground down on the humps along Donegal back roads. “They need to lower the road a bit there,” joked John.
“I’ve been rallying in Donegal since the 1970s, but today was the first time I have driven these stages in years. We’ve previously brought historic cars to Donegal and the historics do not run on Fridays – only Saturday/Sunday. So the Friday stages are fairly new to me. Tomorrow we’ll be back on more familiar territory, and I will have many more miles with the car under my belt. Hopefully this will reduce the advantage of the regulars.”
Having previously shared a Lotus Sunbeam and Fiesta R5 with John, navigator Stephen was very impressed with the Porsche. “I only learned about the new 911 a couple of weeks ago, so I have been eagerly awaiting the start of the rally! The car is fantastic: the ride is amazing and it flies over bumps. The power is simply phenomenal: it just hits you in the chest and the brakes are terrific.
“John’s enjoying the drive and getting to know the new car and I’m not pushing him to go any faster. We lost about fifteen seconds on the last stage due to premature yellow flags for a crash up the road, but, other than that, we’re delighted with everything.”
Seeded 74th in the early entry, John and Stephen finished the day just outside the top twenty. Two more long days remain, with plenty of tight and twisty sections to catch the unwary. Fingers crossed for the rest of our rally: more news as it happens!