Although Monaghan’s Josh Moffett (Ford Fiesta WRC) won the Clare Rally, the penultimate round of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship, he faces an uphill battle to win the series after his main rival Donegal’s Declan Boyle, co-driven by James O’Reilly came home in fifth.
Boyle only requires ten points from next month’s final round of the series in Donegal to win a third title.
Yesterday, Moffett with his Limerick co-driver Keith Moriarty finished 7.7 seconds ahead of Clonmel’s Roy White and Dromtarriffe’s James O’Brien also in a Fiesta WRC. Midleton’s Daragh O’Riordan and Wexford’s Andy Hayes (Fiesta WRC), were a minute and 56.1 seconds further behind in third.
The opening stage was cancelled due to a bereavement. White traversed the first competitive stage (S.S. 2) just a fraction of a second ahead of Moffett and on S.S. 3 he went 4.2 seconds clear as Moffett’s car lapsed onto three cylinders for both stages.
Meanwhile, Boyle was down in tenth and struggled to find a rhythm. Punching in the best three times for the second loop, Moffett led White by 4.3 seconds as they moved well clear of third placed O’Riordan who was a minute and 3.6 seconds further adrift of White.
A change of tyres benefitted fourth-placed Daniel Cronin (Fiesta R5) with local driver Pádraig Egan in a McKinstry hired Subaru WRC making amends for having forgotten to release the handbrake and turn on the anti-lag. Niall Maguire withdrew his Subaru WRC with clutch issues as Boyle moved up to seventh.
Moffett took the victory as second-placed White denied him the chance of claiming the Power Stage point. Elsewhere, Cavan’s Chris Armstrong (Escort) won the Mk. 2 Champions Trophy and in the battle for the rally.ie award (top two-wheel drive in the overall standings) he narrowed the deficit to Donegal’s Stuart Darcy (Darrian T90) to four points.
On his R5 debut, Gareth MacHale took the Dom Buckley Fiesta to eighth overall. Donegal’s Trevor Bustard (Mitsubishi) won the Group N category and the Junior title went to Clare’s Cathal Nolan (Honda Civic).
Meanwhile, a third consecutive victory for Ott Tanak (Toyota Yaris WRC) has moved the Estonian right into contention for the World Rally Championship title during an eventful Rally Turkey, round ten of the series. He finished 22.3 seconds ahead of his team mate Jari Matti Latvala to propel Toyota to the head of the Manufacturer’s standings.
With championship rivals Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20) and Sebastien Ogier (Ford Fiesta WRC) hitting trouble Tanak has edged into second in the series and with three rounds remaining is only 14 points behind series leader Neuville, whose only consolation came when he won the Power Stage to claim five championship points.
Craig Breen, who led after the second stage on Friday, saw his rally end when his Citroen caught fire and burnt out on Saturday.