The Four Seasons Hotel Monaghan Rally ended in dramatic fashion as the Donegal/Monaghan pairing of Donagh Kelly/Conor Foley guided their KN Group liveried Ford Focus WRC to a final stage victory to deny long time leaders, the Monaghan/Cork duo of Sam Moffett/Karl Atkinson (Ford Fiesta R5).
Kelly overturned a 4.5 second deficit to win by just 1.8 seconds. Monaghan’s Niall Maguire/Enda Sherry (Subaru WRC) were a minute and 51.3 seconds further behind in third. The Modified category was won by Adrian Hetherington/Ronan O’Neill (Escort) and victory in the Group N class went to Monaghan’s Shane Maguire/Darragh Kelly (Mitsubishi).
On the first stage in greasy conditions, Sam Moffett (Fiesta R5) led both the Ford Fiesta WRC of his younger brother Josh and the Skoda Fabia R5 of Derry’s Desi Henry by 9.6 seconds. Niall Maguire (Subaru) was four seconds further adrift with Kelly in fifth spot — 14 seconds off the lead after he slid off and hit a bank.
Monaghan’s Sam Moffett was quickest through S.S. 2 to move 17.5 seconds ahead of Kelly while Henry was 5.5 seconds further behind. Josh Moffett’s rally ended when his lost four-wheel drive before spinning off backwards and pulling a wheel off his Fiesta.
Another fastest stage time gave Sam Moffett an 18-second advantage at the end of the opening loop, Kelly remained second with Henry 13.2 seconds further behind. The top six also featured Maguire, Wright and top two-wheel drive competitor, Adrian Hetherington (Ford Escort).
On the repeat of the loop that didn’t include S.S. 5 that was cancelled, Kelly began to inch closer to Moffett, the margin between them was ten seconds. Henry punctured on S.S. 4 and stopped to change the front left wheel, he plummeted to 24th. and even though S.S. 5 didn’t run, he netted ten places from S.S. 6 to lie 14th. in overall classification.
Meanwhile, Niall Maguire (Subaru) moved into third followed by Wright, Hetherington and local ace, David Moffett (Toyota Starlet). The remainder of the top ten was the sole domain of the two-wheel drive aces with the Escorts of Frank Kelly, Chris Armstrong and Barry Meade followed by the Darrian T90 of Stuart Darcy.
Kelly trimmed the deficit to 4.6 seconds by S.S. 7, Moffett looked to have stemmed the tide as Kelly only gained a tenth of a second on the penultimate test. However, Kelly eclipsed his rival on the final stage to claim a narrow win.
Moffett was far from despondent. “This morning I would have taken second, I didn’t expect the R5 car to match the World cars, but it was a terrific battle.”
Maguire came home third followed by Wright.
The West Cork Motorcycle Drag Race at Halfway ended in a battle of the brothers as Rylane’s Justin O’Driscoll (Suzuki GSXR) edged out his brother Kieran to win the event.
In the semi-finals, Justin beat Blarney’s Ted Brady (Yamaha FJ Prostock) while Kieran beat six-time winner, UK rider Craig Mallabone (Suzuki Hayabusa) from Sutton, who actually posted the best time of the day (8.783 seconds) on his fifth qualification run.
Elsewhere, there were class wins for Glanmire’s Ollie Leahy (Suzuki GSX-EXE); Ballincollig’s Colm Bowles (Suzuki SV); Togher’s Richard Murphy (Yamaha YZF-R6); Mahon rider Liam Wainwright (Yamaha YZF-R6); Clonakilty’s David Hayes (Suzuki GSXR); Mahon’s Jay O’Sullivan (Yamaha YZF-R1) and Ringaskiddy’s Kieran Kelly (Suzuki GSXR).
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