Although Tipperary’s Liam Ryan (Mitsubishi) has an eight-point advantage over Owen Murphy, the Corkonian can actually clinch the series by securing maximum points or by finishing ahead of Ryan. The Omagh event was added to the Valvoline series following the cancellation of the round in Donegal. With the best four rounds to count, Murphy made a tremendous start with victories in the opening rounds in Mitchelstown and Carrick on Suir.
However, a non-finish in the Moonraker Rally allowed the consistent Ryan take over at the top of the leaderboard. Murphy took maximum points on the Cork event last month to move closer to his first major title.
With a superb entry that has newly-crowned Northern Ireland champion Kenny McKinstry occupying the number one berth, Murphy needs to concentrate on his battle with his championship nemesis rather than get involved in mixing it with the vastly experienced McKinstry. In the context of the Valvoline series, Mitsubishi pair Vincent McAree and Gerard Lucey, along with Paul Fitzgerald (Escort), the leading two-wheel drive competitor, are all journeying north.
Meanwhile Antrim’s Derek McGarrity (Subaru WRC) is seeded directly behind McKinstry and will be a formidable opponent over the 11 stages. Martin Cairns (Subaru), Donagh Kelly (Mitsubishi), Conor McCloskey (Subaru WRC), who won the Tipperary Stonethrowers Rally last month, complete a very competitive top five. The WRC’s of James Gillen (Subaru) and Viv Hamill (Toyota) line up ahead of Murphy with Ian Cochrane(Mitsubishi) and Stuart Biggerstaff (Subaru WRC) filling the final places in the top ten. Ryan is seeded at 12, meanwhile, Frank Kelly (Escort) can continue his efforts to land the two-wheel drive category in both the Irish Forest and Dunlop National championships. Servicing is in Castlederg, the event is also a round of the Ford Fiesta Sport Trophy Ireland series.
Meanwhile, the Citroen DS3 of Derry’s Marty McCormack and Cork’s David Moynihan head the entry for the International Rally Yorkshire, round six of the Dulux Trade British Rally Championship. The Irish pair, who netted maximum points in Rally Northern Ireland last month, lead the Formula 2 category with an 18-point advantage over Twingo R2 duo of Finnish ace Mikko Pajanen and Estonian Siim Plangi (Twingo R2). Derry’s Joseph McGonigle (Citroen C2R2) is also bound for Scarborough. BRC leader David Bogie (Mitsubishi) and defending champion Elfyn Evans (Subaru), along with Northern Ireland’s Jonny Greer (Skoda Fabia S2000), are seeded further down the order. Bogie has three wins and two podium finishes from his five outings and is 14 points ahead of Evans. The first of tomorrow’s nine stages begins at 10.28am.
Yesterday, it was announced that the Rally Isle of Man has been cancelled.
Rallye Sanremo, round nine of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge begins today. French ace, Bryan Bouffier (Peugeot 207 S2000), Jan Kopecky (Skoda Fabia S2000) and Freddy Loix (Skoda Fabia S2000) are the top three seeded drivers. Kopecky has a 17 point advantage over Loix.
Former Irish and British S1600champion Brian O’Mahony will drive a Kenny McKinstry prepared Subaru S11 on next weekend’s Moran Silver Springs Hotel Cork 20 International Rally, the final and deciding round of the Irish Tarmac Championship.
The Tarmac series is a three way battle between Meath’s, Tim McNulty, Maynooth’s Kevin Barrett and Midleton’s Daragh O’Riordan.
The Top Part West Coast Championship will be decided on the Banna Beach Hotel Kerry Rally (November 13), the final round of the regional series. Following last week’s round in Clare the series is essentially a two-way contest between Kerry’s Mike Quinn (Escort) and reigning champion Monaghan’s Shane Maguire (Subaru).
Currently level on points even when dropped scores are taken into consideration, whoever finishes the highest in Kerry will take the series.
However, if both fail to finish and Kevin Barrett was to take maximum points, he would actually win the championship.