Triton Showers National Rally Championship leader Donagh Kelly (Ford Focus WRC) has the first of three opportunities to clinch the Vard Memorial Trophy on Sunday’s McCormack Opel/Sligo Park Hotel Rally, round six of the eight round campaign.
Donegal driver Kelly and his Derry co-driver Kevin Flanagan have been in sensational form in this year’s national campaign where they have stormed their way through five rounds securing all but three of the 115 points that were on offer.
This season’s introduction of a Power Stage – akin to the World Rally Championship - allows the fastest Triton Showers registered competitor over the final stage to gain an additional three points. Kelly has won every Power Stage bar the opening round in Abbeyleix when Garry Jennings created history in becoming the first to win a Power Stage in the Triton Series.
In Sligo, eleven championship points will be sufficient for Kelly to annex the prestigious Vard Memorial Trophy for the very first time. “Yes, it will be a Sunday drive, much as we would like to have a go, we must be sensible as well. I didn’t set out with any aspirations but now it would be nice to win the title. I have really enjoyed the Triton series, it’s been great with the level of promotion and publicity. There is a competitive rivalry in all regards but it’s also been a friendly rivalry.” said Kelly.
Meanwhile, outgoing champion and fellow Donegal driver Declan Boyle, who is the top seed, will give his state of the art Ford Focus WRC it’s debut in the national championship. Monaghan’s Sam Moffett (Ford Fiesta WRC), who won his home event last April, should provide some great opposition for the Donegal pair
Also in the Sligo top ten are Tyrone’s Martin Cairns (S14 Subaru WRC), John Cairns (Subaru WRC) and top two-wheel drive competitor Donegal’s Declan Gallagher (Toyota Starlet). Gallagher could make a late bid for the rally.ie title, with points from Monaghan and the last round in Waterford, he has annexed 27 points, Cavan’s Chris Armstrong has 46 points with Jonathan Pringle on 40 points.
In Group N, Donegal’s Trevor Bustard (Mitsubishi EvoIX) faces opposition from the similar cars of Pat Kirk, Shane Maguire, Aidan Wray (Mitsubishi EvoX) and Paul Barrett (Subaru). In the Motorsport Safety Group N category Wray is six points ahead of Paul Barrett.
Event details - Oranising Club: Connacht Motor Club. Clerk of the Course: Robert Lyttle. Rally Headquarters: Sligo Park Hotel. Tel. 071 9190400. First Car Away: 09.45.
S. S. 1,4 & 7 Glencar Lake (19.93Km) 10.27, 12.57 & 15.27.
S. S. 2,5 & 8 Tawnylust (7.68Km) 11.05, 13.35 & 16.05.
S. S. 3,6 & 9 Lough Gill (11.70Km) 11.41, 14.11 & 16.41.
Service: Sligo Institute of Technology: 10.00, 12.15 & 14.45.
Finish Ramp: Sligo Park Hotel, Sligo. 17.14.
Top 10 Starters:
1. Declan Boyle/Brian Boyle (Ford Fiesta WRC)
2. Donagh Kelly/Kevin Flanagan (Ford Focus WRC)
3. Sam Moffett/TBA (Ford Fiesta WRC)
4. Niall Maguire/Enda Sherry (Subaru WRC)
5. Kenny McKinstry/Kenny Hull (Subaru WRC)
6. Kevin Barrett/Sean Mullally (Subaru WRC)
7. Roy White/James O’Brien (MG ZR)
8. Martin Cairns/Gary McElhinney (Subaru WRC)
9. John Cairns/James Cairns (Subaru WRC)
10. Declan Gallagher/Ryan Moore (Toyota Starlet)
Triton Showers National Rally Championship – Provisional positions after Round 5: 1. D Kelly 112 pts; 2. N Maguire 70 pts; 3. A. Ring 65 pts; 4. R. White 52pts; 5. C. Armstrong 46 pts; 6. K. Barrett 44pts; 7. J. Pringle 41pts