Yet another Moffett show, the latest episode on the TuffMac Trailers Lakeland Rally, round five of the Valvoline Irish Forest Rally Championship saw the Monaghan born brothers Sam and Josh dominate proceedings during Saturday’s eight stages in the forests of west Fermanagh.
Sam, driving a Ford Fiesta WRC, led initially, lost lead for a stage before finishing with a 21 second victory margin over younger sibling Josh (Mitsubishi), who claimed top points in the Valvoline series and with championship leader Michael O’Brien (Ford Focus WRC) finishing down in 17th. place, Josh Moffett is now a genuine title rival.
Jonny Greer (Citroen DS3R5) was 40 seconds further behind third. In the “Road2Wales” competition, Killarney’s Rob Duggan’s chances of claiming the top prize of a fully funded drive in a Citroen DS3 in Rally GB hit a glitch when he beached his Peugeot 208R2 on the second stage.
Sam Moffett was quickest through the opening stage with Waterford’s Andrew Purcell (Mitsubishi) four seconds behind and two ahead of Josh Moffett with Desi Henry (Skoda Fabia S2000) three seconds further adrift in fourth place.
On the second stage Josh Moffett edged two seconds ahead with Sam Moffett and Purcell (Mitsubishi) tying for second. Sam was slowed when he encountered the Skoda Fabia of Desi Henry, who was trying to get back on the stage after he couldn’t stop the car at a very loose square left junction, the episode cost the Antrim driver some three minutes.
Martin Cairns (Subaru) retired with a blown engine, on the opening stage and Niall Henry bowed out due to a vibration in his Subaru WRC.
The third stage saw Sam Moffett regain the lead as he punched in the best time through the 12.27-mile stage to lead Josh by 11 seconds. Championship leader Michael O’Brien (Ford Focus WRC) punctured, lost around two minutes and plummeted to 40th.
On the opening stage his car suffered a recurrence of the steering issue that blighted his progress in the previous round. Another driver to drop down the order was Andrew Purcell, he slipped to 26th. with differential woes. The fourth stage was cancelled due to the lack of full medical services.
Out on stages five and six Sam Moffett controlled the pace and led by 15 seconds with Josh continuing in second and Greer third.
The order remained the same to the finish. Frank Kelly (Escort) netted the two-wheel drive award – 14 seconds ahead of Shane McGirr (Starlet). Adrian Hetherington, lying sixth after S.S. 6, rolled his Escort on the penultimate stage and finished 24th. - a place behind Ballyvourney’s Gerard Lucey (Mitsubishi), who punctured on the opening stage.
Elsewhere, Desi Henry set some good times after his second stage blemish, fastest time on the final stage helped him to finish ninth, O’Brien was 17th.
Jon Armstrong (Peugeot 208R2) took top points for the “Road2Wales” competition, Killarney’s Rob Duggan reflected on his second stage demise.
“The car just slipped off, it’s a lesson for us, we have to finish first or second in the last round (The Bushwhacker) to win the prize. The Junior category was won by Ian Downey (Opel Corsa).
In the penultimate round of the European le Mans Series, the 4 Hours of Le Castellet at the Paul Ricard Circuit in France, Douglas racer Matt Griffin and his AF Corse team mates Duncan Cameron and Aaron Scott finished sixth as the Formula Racing trio of Johnny Laursen, Mikkel Mac and Andrea Rizzoli extended their lead in the LMGTE category.
Autotest specialist Robin Lyons (Mini Special) won the opening two rounds of the Hewison Autotest series in Ballyvourney.
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