Sam Moffett tightens grip in National Rally race

Sam Moffett: Beat Donagh Kelly by 12.4 seconds.

Monaghan’s Sam Moffett (Ford Fiesta WRC) strengthened his grip on the Triton Showers National Rally Championship when claiming the Rathkeale House Hotel Circuit of Munster Rally, round four of the campaign.

Partnered by local co-driver Keith Moriarty, and after yesterday’s nine stages that had a mixed bag of weather conditions, they enjoyed a winning margin of 12.4 seconds over the Ford Focus WRC of former Triton champion Donegal’s Donagh Kelly and his Monaghan co-driver Conor Foley. 

Ulster’s Alastair Fisher/Gordon Noble in the less powerful Ford Fiesta R5 were a minute and 39.4 seconds further behind in third.

Victory in the Group N category went to Limerick’s Colm Murphy (Subaru) and his Cork co-driver Don Montgomery, and Tyrone’s Vivian Hamill/Denver Rafferty (Escort) were the top two-wheel drive exponents.

Series leader Moffett (Fiesta WRC) was quickly into his stride and took a 3.1 second lead on the opening stage from Kelly with Declan Boyle (Fiesta WRC) a further 9.4 seconds adrift in third from the Fiesta R5 of Alastair Fisher, who was 1.8 seconds further behind followed by Desi Henry (Skoda Fabia R5).

Kelly, like many others, dovetailing a Triton bid with a shakedown for the forthcoming Donegal International Rally, proved quickest on second stage and Declan Boyle (Ford Fiesta WRC) topped the timesheets on the third test.

Rally leader Kelly arrived at the Newcastle West service park with a 3.1 second advantage over Moffett, who declared that his performance on the second and third stages wasn’t of his usual standard.

Boyle was next but lost ground due to the set-up issues, he was 19.7 seconds further behind. 

Alastair Fisher in fourth was the highest placed R5 car in a top six that also included Manus Kelly (Subaru) – he backed off due to an incorrect tyre choice; Keith Cronin (Fiesta R5), who dropped from fourth following a major overshoot.

Desi Henry in seventh lost a chunk of time when he slid his Skoda Fabia R5 into a ditch (S.S. 3). Roy White (Fiesta WRC) in eighth selected the wrong tyres, Josh Moffett (Fiesta R5) endured a spin on S.S. 3 and Niall Maguire, who completed the top ten, stalled his Subaru on the opening stage.

Athea driver Colm Murphy (Subaru) on his first rally in over three years led Group N as pre-event Motorsport Safety Team leader David Guest (Mitsubishi) lost several minutes when he slid into a drain and required the help of several spectators to get back on track.

Although Kelly pushed his lead over Moffett out to 6.4 seconds on S.S. 4, he had to give way to the Monaghan man on the remaining two stages. 

At the final service halt, Moffett led Kelly by 2.1 seconds. Alastair Fisher (Fiesta R5) moved up to third when Declan Boyle (Fiesta WRC) retired after he punctured and lost over five minutes on S.S. 5. 

Elsewhere, Manus Kelly (Subaru) was fifth and Keith Cronin, utilising the rally as a shakedown for his next outing in the British Rally Championship and using BRC controlled tyres and fuel, made some adjustments to his Fiesta R5 following some steering issues. Reigning Triton champion Roy White (Fiesta WRC) held sixth.

Moffett went on to secure his fourth win of the Triton campaign with Kelly and Fisher completing the top three. Elsewhere, there were no changes, Guest retired with transmission problems. Monaghan’s Jonny Treanor (Honda Civic) won the Junior category.

Stuart Cosgrove (78) a founding director of Mondello Park, died on Saturday after a short illness. He was responsible for bringing the circuit from an idea to reality in a very short time. He also built indoor kart tracks in Dublin and Limerick.


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