On Saturday, they powered through the eight stage encounter and finished 20.9 seconds ahead of the Escort of Welsh duo Tomas Davies/Eurig Davies. The Welsh/Irish pair of Mel Evans/Sean Hayde (Escort) were a minute and seven seconds further behind. The Modified category was won by Cavan’s Chris Armstrong/James Fulton (Ford Escort).
The prevailing conditions allowed Moynihan attack from the start, ironically, the Glounthaune driver is — by his own admission — a slow starter.
Not this time and by the end of Moll’s Gap he was 12.6 seconds in front of Davies with Evans 3.2 seconds further behind followed by Rob Smith (Escort) and Andy Johnston (Vauxhall Chevette). Smith was quickest through Beallaghbeama but Moynihan had the pace around Caragh Lake and arrived at the Fossa service halt with a lead of 22.9 seconds. Even then his rivals reckoned that even equalling his stage times for the remainder of the rally was going to be difficult.
So it proved, another blast around the loop of three stages confirmed their opinions as second placed Davies was 29 seconds adrift. Yet for rally leader Moynihan it wasn’t plain sailing, he suffered cramp on the sixth stage at Caragh Lake, yet he still set the fastest stage time.
Smith retired after Moll’s Gap. That iconic stage also claimed Luke McCarthy’s Porsche due to a slight engine malady caused by over revving. Johnston also bowed out. Gaining just over two seconds on the penultimate stage – the first run through Gortnagane — Moynihan was able to ease off on the final night stage to take victory.
In the Modified category, Donegal’s Martin McGee led through the first loop where Chris Armstrong (Ford Escort) was only two seconds behind. Armstrong edged ahead on the second loop albeit by 1.7 seconds. A strong performance on Gortnagane (S.S.7) then put the Cavan ace 14.6 seconds in front and although McGee had seemingly settled for second, he crashed out on the final stage.
His exit elevated local hero Ed Murphy into second with Phil Collins and Fergus O’Meara, all in Ford Escorts, completing the top quartet. Cork’s Chris McCarthy/Ray Looney (Toyota Corolla) were the sole survivors in the Junior category.
Meanwhile, Antrim co-driver Chris Patterson partnered Khalid Al Qassimi (Citroen DS3 RRC) to victory in the Dubai International Rally as the Abu Dhabi driver clinched the FIA Middle East Rally Championship.
A number of other Irish co-drivers were also competing. Mayo’s Killian Duffy and John Higgins were third and fourth with their respective drivers — Abdulaziz Al Kuwari and Khalid Al Suwaidi – both in Ford Fiesta RRC’s.
Monaghan’s Enda Sherry called the notes for sixth placed Abdulla Al Kuwari (Ford Fiesta RRC) and Belfast’s Stephen McAuley was ninth with Mohammed Al Mutawaa (Citroen DS3 R3).
Sebastien Loeb’s preparation for his one-off appearance in Rallye Monte Carlo in January went according to plan when he took a Citroen DS3 WRC to a comfortable victory in Rallye du Var.
In Mondello Park, the six hour Endurance Race was won by the Murray Motorsport team of Eoin Murray, Niall Murray, Barry English and Michael Cullen.