Monaghan’s Sam Moffett came out on top against younger brother Josh at the Clonmel-based Sepam Tipperary Stonethrowers Rally.
Sam and his Bandon co-driver Karl Atkinson took their CombiLift Ford Fiesta WRC to a start to finish victory and were 15 seconds clear of the similar car of Josh and co-driver John Rowan. The Welsh/Limerick pairing of Steve Wood/Keith Moriarty (Subaru WRC) were a minute and 21.1 seconds behind in third. Victory in the Modified category went to the Escort of Gary Kiernan/James O’Reilly while the Group N category was won by Clonmel’s Pat Kearney (Mitsubishi) and his Rosscarbery co-driver Alastair Wyllie.
On the opening stage Sam Moffett set the pace and led the Subaru of Steve Wood by 8.8 seconds with late entry Kenny McKinstry (Subaru WRC) a further 4.2 seconds behind in third. Michael O’Brien was fourth in his Ford Focus WRC – 2.1 seconds adrift of McKinstry and a half a second in front of the Fiesta WRC of Josh Moffett, who was 15.6 seconds off top spot.
Sam Moffett was also quickest through the second stage where his brother Josh increased his pace with the second fastest time that elevated him to third – 2.9 seconds behind Wood, who trailed Sam Moffett by 16.8 seconds.
On the third stage the Moffett domination of fastest times continued but it was Josh that set the pace – moving into second and trailing his brother by 19.1 seconds. Wood was third and reckoned the tyre compound he selected was too soft, especially for the opening pair of stages. Meanwhile, Desi Henry found the fast nature of the opening pair of stages unsuited to his Skoda Fabia S2000, he was much happier with the tight and twisty nature of the third stage. Gary Kiernan in fifth place led the two-wheel drive category.
The top 10 was completed by the Ford Focus of Mick O’Brien, the Escorts of Pat Donegan and Enda O’Brien and the Mitsubishi of Pat O’Connell; the latter was on his first outing on tarmac surface in his Class 20 car.
On the repeat loop there was little between the Moffett brothers with Sam leading by 22.6 seconds — Josh was quickest again, albeit by a fraction of a second on the final stage of the loop. Wood was 40.9 seconds further behind and admitted there was little he could do in terms of closing the margin. Henry continued to acclimatise to his Skoda and again enjoyed the final stage of the loop due to its suitability for the car.
McKinstry was untroubled in fifth while Garry Kieran continued to set a scintillating pace in the rear wheel drive category. Pat Donegan (Escort) was just some six seconds adrift while the remaining three drivers to feature in the top 10 were Michael O’Brien, Enda O’Brien and Pat O’Connell, who lost time when a deflated front left tyre ripped off the wheel rim of his Mitsubishi.
Sam Moffett went on to claim victory but thought he had eased off too much on the final stage where brother Josh cut the margin from 26.9 seconds to 15 seconds. The only major change to the order was the retirement of Kenny McKinstry (Subaru WRC) on the seventh stage.
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