For a fifth successive season, Triton Showers will underpin the 2019 Irish National Rally Championship, which begins with the Abbeyleix Manor Hotel Rally on February 24.
This year’s championship was reduced to seven rounds, while the Sligo Rally, a substitute event, was eventually held some two months after its original July date due to the heatwave that posed road surface issues. Following the scrapping of the licence levy, hopes are high that next year’s events will see an increase in entry numbers.
In 2015, Donegal’s Donagh Kelly (Ford Focus WRC) won the title and was crowned champion on the sixth round in Sligo. He was followed in 2016 by Clonmel’s Roy White (Ford Fiesta WRC), who celebrated at his home event, the Tipperary Stonethrowers Rally. The 2017 series was won by Monaghan’s Sam Moffett (Ford Fiesta WRC), who also clinched the series in Sligo. This year, Declan Boyle took a final-round title win and secured the Vard Memorial Trophy in Donegal. The Lettermacaward man became only the second driver to win a hat-trick of national titles, having also won the series in 2014 and 2013. Monaghan’s Niall Maguire was the first to achieve the feature, with crowns in 1999, 2002 and 2004.
Meanwhile, Wastewater Solutions, are the new title sponsors for the Ulster Automobile Club’s Easter Rally. With restrictions to using the title of Circuit of Ireland, the UAC has agreed a three-year deal with Wastewater Solutions. Irrespective of what happens should the Circuit of Ireland event secure a round of World Rally Championship within that term, the Easter Rally will go ahead. The 2019 event on April 19/20 will feature stages in the Antrim/Lisburn area, with rally HQ at the Chimney Corner Hotel in Newtownabbey.
The outcome of the 5 Star Catering National Loose Surface Autocross Championship will be determined on Sunday’s final round in Bridgetown, Clare. With the best six scores to count from the seven rounds, it’s a case of winner takes all, though Maynooth’s Padraic McHale (Yacar Buggy) holds a 13-point lead over Laois driver Anthony Culleton (Semog Buggy). Last time out, there was only two-hundredths of a second between the pair in favour of McHale. Third place rests between the Semog Buggy pair of Cork drivers Stevey Lane and Fachtna McCarthy. Aside from its national status, the event is the penultimate round of the Barrett Transport Munster Autocross Championship.
Irish National Rally Championship 2019 details: Abbeyleix Manor Hotel Rally (February 24); Midland Rally (March 24); Monaghan Rally (April 28); Circuit of Munster (June 2); Raven’s Rock Rally (June 30); Sligo Rally (July 14); Galway Summer Rally (August 25) and Fastnet Rally (October 27).