Big Donegal interest in Midland Moto Rally in Longford this weekend

Donagh Kelly, Boyles and Manus Kelly in field

Big Donegal interest in Midland Moto Rally in Longford this weekend

Donagh Kelly, fresh from winning last weekend's West Cork Rally in Clonakilty, will have plenty of competition this Sunday as the Triton Showers National Rally Championship zooms in on Longford for the Midland Moto Rally.

The nine-stage event in association with The Longford Arms Hotel, A Plus Skip Hire & Admore Air Conditioning Corp has just over 100 entries for what is the second round of the national series.

Kelly, the 2015 Triton Showers champion, will have designs on outright victory, but will face a battle with the Boyle cousins, Sam Moffett and Donegal International winner, Manus Kelly.

Opening round winner in Nenagh, Sam Moffett is the top seed in his Ford Fiesta WRC. On the last round, Moffett - a former winner of the Billy Coleman award - led from the start and finished almost a minute ahead of the Fiesta WRC of former double national champion Donegal driver Declan Boyle.

The terrain around Longford will certainly provide a tough challenge for all concerned with the organising Midland Motor Club under the baton of clerk of the course Sean Cahill, who has laid out a very demanding route of three stages that will be repeated three times.

Boyle, who won back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2014, is hoping to be ultra competitive on Sunday, however, it will be a tough task especially with Moffett in such good form.

The rally will also mark the first outing of the season for Donegal’s Manus Kelly, who will campaign a Subaru WRC. Last year he made a stunning debut in a Subaru World Car winning the Carlow round of the Triton series, however on Sunday he may take time to acclimatise to the pace. Tyrone’s Mark Donnelly (Ford Fiesta WRC) is in his debut Triton season and will be aiming to improve on his fifth place finish in Nenagh.

In the Junior category, Donegal’s Michael Boyle (Honda Civic) is the leading entry. Reigning champion Gary McNamee (Honda Civic) will provide strong opposition that also includes Monaghan’s Jonny Treanor, Cavan’s John McCabe along with Kerry pair Mark Murphy and Kieran O'Donoghue, all in Honda Civics.

Top 10 Starters:

1. Sam Moffett/Karl Atkinson (Ford Fiesta WRC)

2. Declan Boyle/Brian Boyle (Ford Fiesta WRC)

3. Donagh Kelly/Conor Foley (Ford Focus WRC)

4. Roy White/James O'Brien (Ford Fiesta WRC)

5. Manus Kelly/Gareth Doherty (Subaru WRC)

6. Mark Donnelly/Barry McNulty (Ford Fiesta WRC)

7. Niall Maguire/Enda Sherry (Subaru WRC)

8. Pauric Duffy/Kevin Glynn (Ford Fiesta R5)

9. Adrian Hetherington/Andrew Grennan (Ford Escort)

10. Pat Donegan/Alan Keena (Ford Escort)

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 (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