Declan Boyle . . . fifth in Clare
Monaghan’s Josh Moffett (Ford Fiesta WRC) and his Limerick co-driver Keith Moriarty won the Charlie McEnery Motor Services Clare Rally, the penultimate round of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship.
However, Triton Championship contender Donegal’s Declan Boyle and co-driver James O’Reilly, in yet another Ford Fiesta WRC, finished fifth (fourth in the points table) and a top eight championship finish in the Donegal Harvest Rally in early October will be enough for Boyle to win the series and secure a third national title.
Moffett and Moriarty finished 7.7 seconds ahead of the similar car of Clonmel’s Roy White and his Cork co-driver James O’Brien with Cork’s Daragh O’Riordan and Wexford’s Andy Hayes, also in a Fiesta WRC, a minute and 56.1 seconds further behind in third.
The opening stage was cancelled due to a bereavement. When the rally got underway there was only a fraction of a second between Roy White (Ford Fiesta WRC) and Josh Moffett with the former holding a slender lead of three tenths of a second. Daragh O’Riordan was eleven seconds further behind in third. Meanwhile, Declan Boyle was 29.6 seconds adrift of rally leader White.
On S.S. 3, White was also quickest and arrived at the Ennis service park with a lead of 4.2 seconds. The former Triton champion was happy with his performance but remarked on the slippery nature of the stage at near Crusheen. Moffett’s Fiesta lapsed onto three cylinders for both stages and he did well to stay close to leader White. An untroubled O’Riordan was 13.5 seconds further behind in third and was also content with his pace.
Local driver Padraig Egan in a McKinstry hired Subaru WRC occupied fourth, he was a little flustered when Niall Maguire (Subaru WRC) stalled on the start line of S.S. 2 and the Clareman had the handbrake lock on and also forget to turn on the anti-lag. Then, on S.S. 3 he clipped a rock and buckled a wheel rim.
Daniel Cronin (Ford Fiesta R5) was fifth and was relatively pleased with his tyre choice.
Ian Barrett (Darrian T90) led the two-wheel drive category and was sixth followed by a hard trying Chris Armstrong (Ford Escort) and although his Escort lacked grip on S.S. 3, he was 2.5 seconds ahead of his rally.ie title rival Stuart Darcy (Darrian T90)
Niall Maguire (Subaru) was sandwiched between Armstrong and Darcy, Maguire’s car had clutch woes on both stages and stalled at the start line of S.S. 2, he withdrew at the service park. .
Darcy, with new co-driver, Cork’s Aileen Kelly, also remarked on the slippery nature of the stages, particularly the stage at Crusheen.
Declan Boyle (Fiesta WRC) rounded out the top ten and admitted that he just couldn’t get into a rhythm but was confident of settling on the next loop of stages.
Gareth MacHale making his Ford Fiesta R5 debut was eleventh. “I’m just taking it nice and easy, just want to get accustomed to the car.” Donegal’s Johnny Jordan (Toyota Starlet) was twelfth. Fellow county driver Trevor Bustard (Mitsubishi) led Group N.
On the second loop, Moffett punched in the best three times and duly turned a 4.2 second deficit into a 4.3 second lead. O’Riordan completed the top three but was a minute and 3.6 seconds adrift of White. Fourth placed Cronin tried a harder compound tyre and was satisfied with the result.
Egan, next on the leaderboard expressed the view that with the conditions drying rapidly, his Subaru could have done with a harder compound tyre. Armstrong, despite clipping a chicane on S.S. 4, took control of the two-wheel drive category after Barrett retired on S.S. 5 and Darcy had a fuel issue a stage earlier leaving the margin between them at 42.8 seconds.
Boyle occupied seventh overall and all of the top seven with the exception of Cronin were registered for Triton points. MacHale slotted into eighth spot and was growing in confidence as he acclimatised to the Fiesta R5. Darcy and fellow Donegal’s Johnny Jordan (Toyota Starlet) completed the top ten. Elsewhere, David Condell (Escort) admitted to having two massive moments on the sixth stage while David Guest (Skoda Fabia R5) was surprised that his time for S.S. 5 wasn’t better. Bustard continued to lead Group N.
Moffett went on to claim victory as second placed White netted the additional point for winning the Power Stage. O’Riordan completed the top three. Cronin, the top R5 driver, was fourth overall. The only major change to the top came when Boyle moved up from seventh to fifth and with Cronin not registered for the Triton series the Lettermacaward driver took 14 points. He needs a maximum of ten points in Donegal to win the series for a third time.
Elsewhere, Padraig Egan (Subaru) was the top local driver - he finished sixth.
Chris Armstrong (Escort) in seventh netted the Mk. 2 Champions Trophy and in the battle for the rally.ie award (top two-wheel drive in the overall standings) he narrowed the deficit to Donegal’s Stuart Darcy to four points.
Gareth MacHale (Ford Fiesta R5), Darcy and Johnny Jordan (Toyota Starlet), who had fuel starvation problems on the final loop, completed the top ten.
Trevor Bustard (Mitsubishi) won the Group N category and the Junior title went to Clare’s Cathal Nolan (Honda Civic).
1. J. Moffett/K. Moriarty (Ford Fiesta WRC) 52m. 53.5s.
2. R. White/J. O'Brien (Ford Fiesta WRC) 53m. 01.2s.
3. D. O'Riordan/A. Hayes (Ford Fiesta WRC) 54m. 57.3s.
4. D. Cronin/S. Buckley (Ford Fiesta R5) 54m. 59.6s.
5. D. Boyle/J. O'Reilly (Ford Fiesta WRC) 55m. 26.3s.
6. P. Egan/B. Hassett (Subaru WRC) 55m. 35.0s.
7. C. Armstrong/C. Melly (Ford Escort) 56m. 23.1s.
8. G. MacHale/B. Murphy (Ford Fiesta R5) 56m. 23.7s.
9. S. Darcy/A. Kelly (Darrian T90 GTR) 57m. 02.3s.
10. J. Jordan/P. McCrudden (Toyota Starlet) 57m. 42.7s.
Triton Showers National Rally Championship (Provisional Positions after Round 6): 1. D. Boyle 91 pts; =2. J. Moffett & J. McGonigle 79pts; 4. R. White 61pts; 5. S. Darcy 57pts; 6. C. Armstrong 53pts.