Monaghan’s Sam Moffett (Ford Fiesta WRC) produced a start-to-finish victory in the Jim Walsh Cork Forest Rally, to increase his chances of winning all three major Irish rally championships.
Yesterday, in round four of the Valvoline Irish Forest Championship and co-driven by Darragh Kelly, he finished 51.4 seconds ahead of fellow Ulster pair Jonny Leonard/Arthur Kierans (Mitsubishi EvoVI). David Crossen/Damien Fleming (Ford Escort) were 7.9 seconds further behind in third.
Moffett was three seconds quicker than Adrian Hetherington (Toyota Corolla WRC) on the opening stage but an electrical issue forced the latter’s retirement. Although he stretched his advantage to over 30 seconds on S.S. 2, Moffett lost well over 20 seconds on the third stage with a front right wheel puncture.
Leonard reeled in Crossen for second and Jordan Hone (Mitsubishi) was fourth after series leader Gerard Lucey punctured his Mitsubishi on the penultimate stage. Moffett moves into second in the series just two points behind Lucey with two events left.
Elsewhere, there was yet another fifth place in a round of the World Rally Championship for Waterford’s Craig Breen as he was the highest placed Citroen driver in Rally Finland. It was the fifth time he finished fifth. Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle were eighth. Breen spun and lost time on Saturday’s stages, yesterday, he overshot a junction. Admitting to being low in confidence Meeke adopted a defensive approach to hold position.
In what only his fourth appearance at the top flight Esapekka Lappi (Toyota Yaris) won the event , the 26 year old had late drama when he broke a rear wheel on the penultimate stage. However, the Toyota Gazoo Racing team driver finished 36 seconds ahead of Welsh driver Elfyn Evans, who claimed second for the M-Sport outfit to deny Juha Hanninen a 1-2 for Toyota.
Thierry Neuville (Hyundai 120 WRC) netted sixth and that was enough to claim the championship lead, albeit on a tie-break from Sebastien Ogier, who crashed on Friday and didn’t re-join the rally.
Meanwhile, Derry’s Desi Henry and his Millstreet co-driver Liam Moynihan took their Skoda Fabia R5 to victory in the Tyrone Rally, round four of the Northern Ireland Rally Championship. After nine stages they were 12.6 quicker than the similar Skoda of Derry’s Marty McCormack who was co-driven by Barry Mitchell. First stage leaders Peadar Hurson/Damien Connolly (Ford Fiesta WRC) were 11.6 seconds further behind in third.
Hurson was just a fraction of a second ahead of the Mini WRC of Philip Allen on the opening stage. Henry moved in front a stage later and went on to command proceedings. Derek McGarrity retired his Subaru after S.S. 1 due to an engine problem as Allen spun and dropped outside the top three. Hurson was Henry’s closest rival until Marty McCormack punched in a few fastest stage times en-route to second spot in wet conditions. Henry had enough of a buffer and eased off on the final stage to claim the spoils.
In the 24 Hours of Spa Cork’s Matt Griffin and his AF Corse team mates Duncan Cameron and Aaron Scott had to be content with 23rd after their Ferrari 488 GT suffered brake problems.
During the night session a rear brake pad disintegrated and the team lost nine minutes in the pits repairing the damage. Earlier, Griffin, who began from P45, had the car in the top twenty.
On what was his debut in the British F4 Championship at Snetterton, Cork teenager Luca Allen finished 13th, 16th in Saturday races and 16th again yesterday.
For the second year in succession Killeagh’s Michael Browne (Yamaha R6) won the West Cork Motorcycle Club’s Dunderrow Hillclimb. He beat Riverstick’s John “Plumb” O’Donovan (Yamaha R6) by 1.035seconds.
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