Donegal cousins Declan and Brian Boyle had to settle for second place behind Monaghan’s Sam Moffett in a Ford Fiesta WRC and co-driven by Cavan’s James Fultonm who won the Abbey Court Hotel Nenagh Rally, the opening round of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship. The Boyles finished 59.1 seconds behind Moffett.
Another Donegal driver, Donagh Kelly and his Monaghan co-driver Conor Foley in a Ford Focus WRC were 36.1 seconds further behind in third, they claimed an extra championship point for setting the fastest time on the Power Stage.
Cork’s David Guest and his Monaghan co-driver Emmet Sherry (Mitsubishi) won the Group N category and Cavan’s Gary McPhillips/James McNulty (Escort) took the laurels in the two-wheel drive section. Victory in the Junior category went to Donegal’s Michael Boyle and his co-driver Dermot McCafferty (Honda Civic).
On the opening stage Moffett, despite stalling his Ford Fiesta WRC on the start line was quickest and led Kelly by 10.1 seconds. Roy White (Ford Fiesta WRC) was a second behind followed by Niall Maguire, who was 10.5 seconds further adrift and had to contend with a misted windscreen. Declan Boyle was next in a top six that was completed by the Escort of Adrian Hetherington.
On the second stage Moffett pushed on and arrived at the Nenagh service park with a 19.3 second lead over Boyle, who was slightly dubious about his time, he posted the best stage time, but Moffett arrived at the stage finish hot on his heels. – (Boyle’s time was subsequently amended). White admitted he took a cautious approach and wasn’t taking any chances, he occupied third – 12. 3 seconds further adrift and 3.2 seconds ahead of Kelly, who spun half way through the stage.
Maguire struggled through the stage due to a heavily misted over windscreen. Mark Donnelly (Fiesta WRC) rounded off the top six as he took a steady approach. Adrian Hetherington, who was next in classification continued to lead the two-wheel drive category and was trouble free. The top ten was completed by Stephen McCann, who reckoned his Fiesta S2000 lacked top speed on the opening stage. Gary McPhillips (Escort) was ninth with Daniel Cronin in tenth losing time with transmission woes as his Mitsubishi stuck in third gear.
Meanwhile, David Guest (Mitsubishi) led the similar car of Neil Tohill by 14.3 seconds with Paul Barrett (Subaru) a fraction of a second further behind.
On the repeat of both stages Moffett was in control and duly extended his lead to 30.4 seconds, the rally leader was happy with his pace and remarked that he just needed to stay out of trouble. Second placed Boyle had a few moments when his car aquaplaned in the wet conditions. Meanwhile, White retained third as he admitted his tyre choice was a little too brave. Kelly closed to within 1.9 seconds but he commented that his lack of seat time and the conditions were costing him time. An untroubled Mark Donnelly (Fiesta WRC) and Niall Maguire (Subaru WRC) rounded out the top six, the latter having sorted the issue with the windscreen.
Top two wheel drive exponents Adrian Hetherington and Gary McPhillips, both in Escorts, were next on the leaderboard, the margin between them stood at 7.2 seconds. Stephen McCann (Fiesta S2000) and Ed Murphy (Escort) completed the top ten.
In Group N, David Guest continued to control proceedings, he was 29.3 seconds ahead of the Mitsubishi of Shane Maguire with Neil Tohill (Mitsubishi) seven seconds further adrift in third followed by an untroubled Paul Barrett (Subaru).
Switching to a pair of stages closer to Nenagh for the afternoon, Moffett continued to blaze the trial and consolidated his lead to 58.8 seconds by the completion of S.S. 6. At the Nenagh service the Monaghan man recalled a major moment on the sixth stage when his Fiesta almost got away from him. Boyle was second and Kelly moved into third at the expense of White. Donnelly and Maguire both got through the pair of stages safely to hold fifth and sixth respectively.
McCann in seventh thought he had punctured when he clipped a bridge and he backed off for a few kilometres.
Gary McPhillips (Escort) took over the lead of the two-wheel drive category but Adrian Hetherington was only three tenths of a second behind in a top ten that was completed by the Mitsubishi of Group N leader David Guest. Shane Maguire cut Guest’s advantage to 17.2 seconds, Paul Barrett (Subaru) was third.
Moffett backed off on the final pair of stages to claim the spoils with Boyle second, Kelly punched in the best time on the Power Stage to claim the additional bonus point.
In the two-wheel drive category, McPhillips held off the challenge of Hetherington. Ian Barrett (Darian T90) was third in the category. Guest, Shane Maguire and Paul Barrett were the top three in Group N.
1. S. Moffett/J. Fulton (Ford Fiesta WRC) 1h. 00m. 26.9s.
2. D. Boyle/B. Boyle (Ford Fiesta WRC) 1h. 01m. 26.0s.
3. D. Kelly/C. Foley (Ford Focus WRC) 1h. 02m. 02.1s.
4. R. White/J. O'Brien (Ford Fiesta WRC) 1h. 02m. 05.9s.
5. M. Donnelly/B. McNulty (Ford Fiesta WRC) 1h. 02m. 57.3s.
6. N. Maguire/E. Sherry (Subaru WRC) 1h. 03m. 37.3s.
7. S. McCann/D. Fleming (Ford Fiesta S2000) 1h. 04m. 54.2s.
8. G. McPhilips/J. McNulty (Ford Escort) 1h. 05m. 12.9s.
9. A. Hetherington/R. O'Neill (Ford Escort) 1h. 05m. 15.3s.
10. D. Guest/E. Sherry (Mitsubishi Evo IX) 1h. 07m. 52.7s.
Provisional Championship Positions after Round 1: S. Moffett 20pts; 2. D. Boyle 18 pts; 3. D. Kelly 17pts; 4. R. White 14pts; 5. M. Donnelly 13pts & 6. N. Maguire 12pts.
2017 Triton Showers National Rally Championship Diary Dates:
1. Abbey Court Hotel Nenagh Rally S. Moffett/J. Fulton (Ford Fiesta WRC)
2. Midland Rally (Longford) March 26
3. Monaghan Rally April 23
4. Circuit of Munster (Rathkeale) June 4
5. Raven’s Rock Rally (Waterford) June 25
6. Sligo Rally July 9
7. Galway Summer Rally (Gort) August 27
8. Fastnet Rally (Bantry) October 29