Motorsport: Ferrari ace Matt Griffin enjoying return to his roots

Matt Griffin

Having built his racing career in Northampton and within earshot of Silverstone, Matt Griffin is content with life following his decision to return to his native Leeside from where he continues his globetrotting motorsport career as a professional Ferrari factory-racing driver.

Based in Ballincollig, he is more than happy with his lifestyle that still centres on training at a very high level. “I often cycle out to Macroom and other places like Passage West and when the weather is too inclement, I use Dennehy’s Gymnasium here in Ballincollig,” he says.

The former Motorsport Ireland International Driver of the Year winner notches up another milestone this week-end as he and teammate Duncan Cameron debut the new Ferrari 488 GT3. The pair onboard the No 52 AF Corse entered the car to compete in the first round of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup at Imola. It replaces the ultra successful Ferrari 458 GT3 that has been raced since 2011. Free practice tomorrow will be followed by qualifying on Sunday morning with the three-hour race beginning at 3pm local time.

Over the last five seasons, Griffin has never competed in fewer than 24 races, all in a Ferrari — two seasons ago he raced in eight championships.

In rallying, although he has won 34 events in the World Rally Championship, victory in Rally Argentina has, so far, eluded 32-year-old Sebastien Ogier (VW Polo WRC). The French ace is optimistic about his chances in this weekend’s event in South America.

Volkswagen Motorsport can create history should either Ogier or teammates Latvala or Andreas Mikkelsen take the win, as it would enable the German manufacturer to become the first team to stay unbeaten for a year.

The Moffett brothers, Josh and Sam, renew sibling rivalry on home territory on Sunday’s Monaghan Rally, with an entry of some 130 crews.

Twelve months ago and driving Fiesta WRCs, they had a good battle, with Josh taking outright victory by some five seconds. Now with Fiesta R5s, the pair will have seven-time winner and fellow Monaghan driver Niall Maguire (Subaru WRC) as opposition along with Kevin Barrett (Subaru WRC) and Stephen Wright (Fiesta R5).

A cracking entry in the Modified category includes Gary McPhillips, Gary Kiernan, Chris Armstrong, Dessie Keenan, and Brian Brogan, all in Mk 2 Escorts.

The Lark in the Park Rally at the Ebrington Complex and St Columb’s Park in Derry, and a stage at Drung, Donegal, takes place tomorrow with Donegal’s Joe McGonigle (Skoda Fabia S2000) heading an entry that also features Frank Wray (Subaru WRC), and Adrian Hetherington and Seamus O’Connell in Ford Escorts.

The Ballyvaughan Hillclimb weekend incorporates the opening two rounds of the Naylor Engineering National Hillclimb & Sprint Championship, with the event, based at Logues Lodge. The Corkscrew Hill is the venue tomorrow while the Ballinalacken Hill is the location on Sunday.

Entries include Galway’s Joe Courtney (Reynard 913), Rory Stephens (Radical), and the Gould GR37S of local ace Sylvie Mullins and Carlow’s Michael Connolly.

Meanwhile, Keith Cronin (Citroen DS3 R5) contests next week’s Cartell.ie Rally of the Lakes and focuses on the Irish Tarmac Championship as he feels the opportunity to land a fourth British Rally Championship has diminished significantly by his retirement from the Circuit of Ireland.

Here’s a little extra sport. Watch the latest BallTalk for the best sports chat and analysis:

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