The first of those is the Shearwater Carlton Galway Summer Rally in Ballinasloe on Sunday, where the Donegal driver is one of a quintet that can win the Vard Memorial Trophy.
Based on the best six scores from eight events, Boyle and last year’s event winner, Hugh Hunter (Subaru WRC), who is the top seed, cannot afford to drop points. Boyle has won two of the five rounds to date and can, provided he scores maximum points in the remaining three rounds, finish on the 100 points that could be enough to claim the series.
It’s a high-risk strategy and he will need help from some of his rivals to split the points further down the order. There’s no doubt he’s the quickest of the five — that also includes current leader Steve Wood and Paddy McVeigh. Although Roy White (MG ZR) could end with the highest total of all, even though it’s unlikely as he tries to match the World Rally brigade, another top-three series finish is a more realistic target.
The quality and capacity Galway entry also includes Derek McGarrity (Mini WRC), who will compete in Class 20, Kevin Barrett (Subaru WRC), James Stafford (Darrian) and Michael O’Brien (Ford Focus WRC). Stafford could have a major bearing on the title outcome as he can split the contenders taking points as he seeks to make up ground in the rally.ie award for the top two-wheel drive exponent in the series. Alan Ring is a non-starter, as the hired Mel Evans Subaru WRC isn’t ready.
Meanwhile, in the Motorsport Safety Group N category, Monaghan’s Josh Moffett (Mitsubishi) will wrestle with countyman Shane Maguire and Dubliner Neil Tohill, while there are Mitsubishi Evo IX’s debuts for Killarney’s Rob Duggan and Ballylickey’s Daniel Cronin.
In the modified category, Frank Kelly is in contention for the Dunlop Mk 2 Challenge, with Vivian Hamill his nearest rival. The rally is also a round of the Top Part West Coast Championship, with Hugh Hunter leading the popular regional series.
Meanwhile, Irish drivers Craig Breen (Peugeot 208 T16) and Robert Barrable (Ford Fiesta R5) will contest the Barum Czech Rally Zlín, with Breen resuming his activities in the European Rally Championship, where he currently lies third overall.
The Waterford driver is top seed for the asphalt event that holds the qualifying stage this morning to determine the starting order. This evening’s super special stage will be followed by nine stages tomorrow and six on Sunday. Breen was prevented from starting last week’s WRC round in Germany due to concerns about the back injury sustained in Finland.
Dubliner Barrable hasn’t competed since finishing third in the Circuit of Ireland in April. Two years ago he was fifth overall in a Skoda Fabia S2000.
Other competitors include ERC leader Esapekka Lappi and Sepp Wiegand (Skoda Fabia S2000s), Ott Tänak (Fiesta R5), Breen’s team-mate Kevin Abbring and Bruno Magalhaes (Peugeot 208T16s).
Elsewhere, further to the decision of the Northern Ireland Motor Club in declaring a result for the recent Ulster Rally that was curtailed after three stages due to the tragic death of Timothy Cathcart, both the organisers of the Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Championship and the British Rally Championship have awarded full points.
It means Declan Boyle has won the series but apart from the championship standings available on the championship’s website, the Tarmac Rally Organisers Association has made no official announcement. The decision has taken many by surprise as it was felt no points should have been awarded.
Meanwhile, the Irish Examiner understands next season’s West Cork Rally will have full championship status but the organising Cork Motor Club is still to be informed. Sources suggest that the TROA are planning to make a double announcement that should also confirm the continuation of Clonakilty Blackpudding as sponsors.