Family pride and indeed the Monaghan bragging rights that also entwine multi-event winner and former triple national champion Niall Maguire (Subaru WRC) and ex-Billy Coleman winner Stephen Wright (Ford Fiesta R5) are all part of a sub-plot.
The organising Monaghan club has been overwhelmed with the quality and quantity of the entry that is full to capacity with some 40 crews on a reserve list.
Even when they campaigned a pair of Group N Mitsubishi Evo IX’s, the Moffett’s enjoyed their own personal battles. The switch to the Fiesta WRC’s hasn’t changed their competitive nature, indeed, it even has intensified the situation.
On their last outing in the Circuit of Ireland, Josh took the honours – beating his older brother by 41.8 seconds. On Sunday, Sam, who occupies the number one berth, will be keen to redress the balance. He also has the incentive of completing his third successive win on home ground. Two seasons ago on his debut in a Subaru WRC he beat another local hero Niall Maguire by just over a minute. Last year, he had double that margin over former national champion Peadar Hurson.
It will be much closer on Sunday – along with his Monaghan rivals, there is the Triton Showers series leader Donagh Kelly (Ford Focus ERC) and reigning national champion Declan Boyle (Subaru WRC), who have Donegal and national rivalry at stake. Four rallies, four wins – is a statistic that illustrates why Kelly is very much the form driver. Yet, Boyle can take some solace that he led three of those four events. His Monaghan outing is crucial in terms of his bid to become the first driver to win the national title in three consecutive seasons. Last year he had to win the four final rounds to clinch back-to-back titles, now it’s a similar situation with little room for error.
Peadar Hurson, Kevin Barrett, Circuit of Kerry winner Alan Ring and Steve Wood, all in Subaru WRC’s, and last year’s championship runner-up Roy White (MG ZR) are also in the mix. Incidentally, the Modified category in last week’s Circuit of Kerry was won by Paul Purtill (Escort), our report was filed before a glitch in the results was discovered.
Meanwhile, Donagh Kelly (Ford Focus WRC) is also in action tomorrow as he competes in the Lark In The Park Border Hopper Rally in north Donegal. His primary reason is to get accustomed to co-driver Conor Foley, who will partner the Donegal man in next week’s Rally of the Lakes, as regular co-driver Kevin Flanagan is not available. Derek McGarrity, Desi Henry, PJ McDermott, Frank Wray, all in Subaru WRC’s, Derek McGeehan (Mini WRC) and Wesley Patterson (Escort) are some of the entries. The usual venue for the event, St. Columb’s Park in Derry, is not available and the organisers - following deliberations with Motorsport Ireland and after some changes - have resorted to a ten-mile stage across the border in Donegal.
Following last night’s Super Special, Rally Argentina gets underway in earnest today with five stages including a double run of the 51.99 kilometre Agua de Oro-Ascochinga test. The Irish pair of Kris Meeke/ Paul Nagle really need a good result for the Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team.
Last year, on their first outing in Argentina they finished on the podium; they tied with Ogier on Wednesday’s 4.59km shakedown stage. “I know what I need to do. I only have to concentrate on driving without making any mistakes and that way, I’ll find the right pace.” said Meeke. Winner of the last five WRC events and current leader Sebastien Ogier can equal Sebastien Loeb’s records (2005 & 2008) of six consecutive wins. Surprisingly, Argentina is the only round in the calendar he hasn’t won previously.
The opening rounds of the Naylor Engineering Irish Hillclimb and Sprint Championship get underway this weekend in a co-promotion by the Clare and Galway Motor Clubs that is sponsored by Hogan Motors Galway Hyundai. Tomorrow’s action is on Scalp Hill, Carron while Sunday’s event is at Ballyallban Hill, Ballyvaughan. Local man Sylvie Mullins in his Judd-engined Gould GR 37 is amongst the favourites, he won the PJ Vaughan Perpetual Trophy last year and will renew rivalry with reigning champion Dubliner Simon McKinley in his Warrior engined Lant single seater.