McNulty poised to clinch first major title

WITH an unbeaten record in the current Dunlop National Rally Championship, Tim McNulty, can clinch his first major title on Sunday’s eighth round of the series in Clare although he will need a little help from his rivals.

The Meath driver has taken five wins from as many outings and another set of maximum points will put him out of reach of rival Kevin Barrett provided the latter doesn’t score more than 16 points.

The Ennis based Auburn Lodge Clare Rally, with a strong entry, will have McNulty as the top seed for the day’s nine stages, he is the first driver to lead both the Dunlop National Rally Championship and the Irish Tarmac Championship at this point of the season. Indeed, he is on the cusp of becoming the first driver to win both championships in the same season.

Kevin Barrett, currently third in the series, has a tough task trying to stop McNulty and given the latter’s form, it will be difficult to prevent another victory. However, should Barrett get either top points or second placed points in Clare, the title destiny will move to the penultimate round in Donegal. Niall Maguire, also in a Subaru WRC, completes the top trio in Clare, the Monaghan driver is down in seventh place in the series that he has won on three occasions.

Meanwhile, it has been a fine season for another Monaghan driver, Sam Moffett (Mitsubishi), who has taken a pair of top three finishes from the last two rounds. The 21-year-old has scored in seven of his eight events to hold second overall and lead the Motorsport Safety Group N contingent.

Shane Maguire (Subaru) will be his closest championship rival on Sunday but he is 31 points adrift in the quest for overall Group N success.

Lisburn’s, Wesley Patterson (Ford Escort) at number six and is the top two-wheel drive exponent. He is amongst a group of drivers trying to catch Tyrone’s, Frank Kelly, who leads the two-wheel drive category. Meanwhile, Limerick’s, Ed O’Callaghan (Escort) should give Patterson a good battle in Clare where fellow top ten seed, Washington James (Darrian T90 GTR) will be followed by Frank Kelly (Escort) and Kerry’s, Mike Quinn, who leads the Top Part West Coast Championship.

The Clare event is the penultimate round of the popular regional series. Elsewhere, there are places for Donegal’s, Trevor Bustard (Mitsubishi), Sam Smyth (Ford Escort) and John McQuaid (Ford Escort). Having campaigned a Mitsubishi in recent seasons, local stalwart, Anthony O’Halloran, reverts to the Opel Manta 400 that made him such a popular driver on the local scene.

The rally is the penultimate round of the Dunlop Junior Rally Championship, Cal McCarthy (Honda Civic) is the top seed, the Clonakilty driver is five points behind series leader, Chris Snow (Honda Civic) with David Moffett (Toyota Starlet) three points off the lead. Johno Doogan (Ford Escort) is also in the title equation and all four will battle in Clare.

The ceremonial start takes place in the square in Ennis on tomorrow evening at 8pm. The penultimate round of the Dunlop series, the Donegal Harvest Rally (October 8) in Redcastle, will be sponsored by the Bailey Nite Club and Redcastle Oceanfront Golf and Spa Hotel.

Also on Sunday, the Imokilly Rally Sprint at the Corrin Event Centre in Rathcormac will have a minimum of three timed runs. Entries include Brian O’Keeffe (Subaru), Escort pair, Davy Armstrong and Fergus O’Meara, Damien Brown (Metro 6R4), Mike Deane (Nissan Silvia) and Owen Murphy (Toyota Corolla). Youghal’s, Jason Ryan (Honda Civic) and the Toyota Corolla trio of Allen Treacy, James Cunningham and William Walsh are the top local contingent. The first timed run begins at 11am.

The International Rally Isle of Man has been excluded from next year’s British Rally Championship that switches to two-wheel drive cars. The six round series kicks off with the Rallye Sunseeker International in Bournemouth on February 24.25th. The remaining rounds are March 30/31 — Bulldog International Rally North Wales, Welshpool; April 27/28 — Pirelli International Rally, Carlisle, Cumbria; June 1/2 — Jim Clark International Rally, Duns; August 17/18 International Rally Northern Ireland, Antrim and September 28/29 — International Rally Yorkshire, Scarborough.

The Leinster Trophy race on Sunday in Mondello Park is part of the two day racing at the Kildare venue. The MEC Sporting Trial at Glenealy, County Wicklow begins at 12.30 tomorrow.

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CourtsPlace: ClarePlace: DonegalPlace: LisburnPlace: EnnisPlace: RedcastlePlace: Redcastle Oceanfront Golf and Spa HotelPlace: Corrin Event CentrePlace: RathcormacPlace: IslePlace: BournemouthPlace: Carlisle, CumbriaPlace: AntrimPlace: ScarboroughPlace: Mondello ParkPlace: KildarePlace: Glenealy, County WicklowPerson: McNultyPerson: Tim McNultyPerson: Kevin BarrettPerson: BarrettPerson: Niall MaguirePerson: Sam MoffettPerson: Shane MaguirePerson: Wesley PattersonPerson: TyronePerson: Frank KellyPerson: Ed O’CallaghanPerson: PattersonPerson: Washington JamesPerson: Mike QuinnPerson: Trevor BustardPerson: Sam SmythPerson: John McQuaidPerson: Anthony O’HalloranPerson: Cal McCarthyPerson: Chris SnowPerson: David MoffettPerson: Johno DooganPerson: Brian O’KeeffePerson: Davy ArmstrongPerson: Fergus O’MearaPerson: Damien BrownPerson: Mike DeanePerson: Owen MurphyPerson: YoughalPerson: Jason RyanPerson: Allen TreacyPerson: James CunninghamPerson: William WalshEvent: Dunlop National Rally ChampionshipEvent: Irish Tarmac ChampionshipEvent: Dunlop Junior Rally ChampionshipEvent: Dunlop seriesEvent: Donegal Harvest RallyEvent: Imokilly Rally SprintEvent: International RallyEvent: British Rally ChampionshipEvent: Rallye Sunseeker InternationalEvent: Bulldog International Rally North Wales, WelshpoolEvent: Pirelli International RallyEvent: Jim Clark International Rally, DunsEvent: International Rally Northern Ireland,Event: International Rally YorkshireEvent: Leinster Trophy raceEvent: MEC Sporting TrialOrganisation: Subaru WRCOrganisation: MitsubishiOrganisation: Motorsport Safety Group NOrganisation: SubaruOrganisation: Ford EscortOrganisation: EscortOrganisation: OpelOrganisation: Honda CivicOrganisation: Toyota StarletOrganisation: Bailey Nite ClubOrganisation: Nissan SilviaOrganisation: Toyota Corolla
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