With two wins from two rounds, Monaghan’s Josh Moffett is on home territory for Sunday’s Four Seasons Hotel Monaghan Rally, round three of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship as he aims to increase his lead over his main title rivals Declan Boyle and Roy White.
Last year’s event winner and top seed Donagh Kelly wheels out his trusty Ford Focus WRC though business commitments have seen the Donegal man cut back on his rallying endeavours. His participation in Monaghan is more to appease his Monaghan co-driver Conor Foley and also as a shakedown for the Donegal International Rally as he confirmed he will use the Focus rather than his Skoda Fabia R5 on his own home event next June.
Not surprisingly, the nine-stage Monaghan event, that is also a round of the Sligo Pallets Border series, has a capacity entry with several reserves. Last year Kelly broke the Moffett dominance (beating Sam’s Fiesta R5 by just 1.8 seconds) that stretched back to 2013 through Josh and his older brother Sam.
Sam is seeded at number two and while it was his turn to campaign the Fiesta WRC, he will stick with the car he used last year and allow Josh to continue to drive the Fiesta WRC that Josh has driven to victory in the Abbeyleix and Longford rounds of the Triton series.
So far it’s been a difficult season for Donegal’s Declan Boyle, the reigning national champion. Last week, driving a Fiesta R5, he crashed heavily just after the start of the first stage of the Wastewater Solutions Easter Rally, a round of the Tarmac series. On his last Triton series outing he spun and hit a bale that burst the radiator of his Fiesta WRC forcing him out. On Sunday’s it’s a case of into the lion’s den as he tries to stop Josh Moffett’s early season dominance.
Former national champion, Clonmel’s Roy White (Fiesta WRC), is currently second in the series — seven points behind and he too needs to derail the Moffett express. The top ten also features Niall Maguire (Subaru WRC), who last won the rally in 2010, Donegal’s Joe McGonigle (Mini WRC), Warrenpoint’s Peadar Hurson (Ford Fiesta WRC), Armagh’s Darren Gass (Skoda Fabia R5) and another local driver Stephen Wright (Ford Fiesta R5).
In the modified category, Donegal’s Kevin Eves (Toyota Corolla) heads the two-wheel drive entry and another Donegal driver Michael Boyle (Mitsubishi) is the top entry in the Motorsport Safety Team Group N category.
Meanwhile, fresh from their fine second place in last week’s Easter Rally, Antrim’s Desi Henry (Skoda Fabia R5) and his Cork co-driver Liam Moynihan head the Irish challenge in tomorrow’s Carlisle based Pirelli Rally, round three of the British Rally Championship.
Derry’s Marty McCormack withdrew due to business commitments and Josh Moffett chose to concentrate on the Triton series. Welsh aces Matt Edwards (Fiesta R5) and Tom Cave (Hyundai i20 R5) and Scotland’s David Bogie (Skoda Fabia R5) are the top three heading to the eight stages in the Kielder complex tomorrow morning. Billy Coleman award winner James Wilson (Peugeot 208R2) has Derry’s Jordan Hone (Fiesta R2) and fellow Northern Ireland aces William Creighton and Josh McErlean and Donegal’s Marty Gallagher all in Peugeot 208 R2’s and promising Londoner Ruari Bell (Fiesta R2) amongst the opposition in the Junior BRC category.
Six-times World Rally champion Sebastien Ogier (Citroen), who has yet to win Rally Argentina, aims to erase that statistic on this weekend’s fifth round. Five points separate the top three of Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) Ogier and Ott Tanak (Toyota Yaris), as the latter’s team-mate Kris Meeke seeks his first podium of the season.