Having spurned a chance to tighten his grip on the Triton Showers National Rally Championship, Donegal’s Declan Boyle (Ford Fiesta WRC) faces title rival Monaghan’s Josh Moffett (Ford Fiesta WRC) on Sunday’s Charlie McEnery Motor Services Clare Rally, the penultimate round of the series.
On the last round in Sligo, where Moffett crashed out of the lead on the sixth stage, Boyle entered the seventh stage as rally leader and more importantly on course to take the maximum 21 championship points.
But he slid off the road soon after and although he finished the stage, his Fiesta WRC was too badly damaged to continue. Fellow Donegal driver Joe McGonigle (Mini WRC) subsequently claimed maximum points to move to the top of the championship standings — two points ahead of Boyle.
McGonigle hasn’t entered the Ennis-based event, though his scores from the season are consistent and mathematically, he could still win the Vard Memorial Trophy.
However, Boyle and Moffett are the two that battle it out in Clare where Boyle doesn’t actually have to beat Moffett. Indeed, the former double champion can win the Triton title by annexing 25 championship points between this and the final event, the Donegal Harvest Rally in October.
Meanwhile, Moffett remains in contention to win the three main championship titles in the one season but the national crown looks to be his toughest quest.
An impressive entry will be led away by Ballylickey’s Daniel Cronin (Ford Fiesta R5), who won last year’s Clare Rally. He heads a posse of four WRCs — all in the much-discussed Class 20. The group also includes former champion Clonmel’s Roy White and Midleton’s Daragh O’Riordan also in Ford Fiesta WRCs. Monaghan’s Niall Maguire and Kevin Barrett (Subaru WRCs) are also in the top seven.
Following an absence of five and a half years, Rathcoole’s Gareth MacHale returns to competitive action. The former Irish Tarmac Rally champion will campaign a Dom Buckley prepared right-hand drive Ford Fiesta R5. The chase for supremacy for the rally.ie award (top two-wheel drive in overall standings) sees Donegal’s Stuart Darcy (Darrian) and Cavan’s Chris Armstrong renew their rivalry with Darcy holding a five-point lead.
Following last evening’s 2km super special, Rally Turkey, round 10 of the World Rally Championship, begins in earnest today. Waterford’s Craig Breen (Citroen C3 WRC) hopes to benefit from a recent tough three-day test.
Having signed up for next season, Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20 WRC) has a 23-point advantage over champion Sebastien Ogier (Ford Fiesta WRC) with the in-form Ott Tanak (Toyota Yaris WRC) 13 points behind.
Billy Coleman award winner Callum Devine (Fiesta R2) competes in the Junior WRC that will be decided in Marmaris. Mathematically, the 24-year-old Derry driver is one of eight with a chance of the title.
The most prestigious event race in Irish motor racing, the Leinster Trophy, takes place in Mondello Park on Sunday. A grid in excess of 20 cars from the BOSS Ireland Championship including seven Formula 3 cars and three Formula 3000s, will vie for the trophy.