There is yet another magnificent entry for a round of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship as the Monaghan Rally on Sunday next, round three of the campaign, has a capacity entry along with some forty reserves - illustrating the huge popularity of national rally championship events.
Local driver Sam Moffett (Ford Fiesta WRC) goes in search of a third successive victory on the event having won last year in his Fiesta WRC and the previous year in a McKinstry Motorsport hired Subaru WRC. Fresh from fourth overall in the recent Circuit of Ireland, Moffett will certainly fancy his chances against the regulars of the Triton series.
With victories on the two opening rounds in Abbeyleix and Roscommon – Donagh Kelly (Ford Focus WRC) is very much the in-form driver. In Roscommon he became the first driver to secure the maximum twenty-three points that are available from a round of the series – twenty points for outright victory and an additional three points for posting the fastest time on the Power Stage. Kelly will relish the battle with Moffett and also with his fellow Donegal driver Declan Boyle.
Reigning National champion Boyle faces an important event as he aims to become the first driver to win a straight hat trick of National titles. It’s been a difficult year thus far, punctures in Abbeyleix and Roscommon has cost him dearly and he will determined to put an end to his disappointing run, currently, he is down in seventh spot – twenty-six points off the lead.
Meanwhile, triple National champion and multiple Monaghan winner Niall Maguire (Subaru WRC) is enjoying a strong season and is second in the Triton series – seven points behind Donagh Kelly. The third Monaghan driver in the top five is Josh Moffett (Ford Fiesta WRC), he had an excellent third overall in the Circuit of Ireland and it will be interesting to see if he will replicate that form over his local terrain.
For former national champion Peadar Hurson (Subaru WRC) - perhaps it will be a case of third time lucky – although he was entered on the two previous Triton rounds, he withdrew prior to the start on both occasions. Last year, on-board a Ford Escort WRC the Warrenpoint man finished second overall, he will be co-driven by Monaghan man Damien Connolly.
Former Billy Coleman award winner and yet another Monaghan driver Stephen Wright (Ford Fiesta R5) is also tackling the event, he occupies the number seven slot, comparisons between the R5 and the WRC’s should again prove interesting.
Series sponsor Kevin Barrett in the Triton Showers liveried Subaru WRC has finished sixth in both of the opening rounds and will be aiming to improve on that position over the nine-stage event. Interestingly, he finished fifth in last week’s non-championship event, the Circuit of Kerry.
Castleisland’s Alan Ring in the Mel Evans hired S12B Subaru WRC should be in ebullient mood following his victory in the aforementioned Circuit of Kerry on Sunday last where he had an exciting battle with Welsh ace Steve Wood (Subaru WRC), who completes the Monaghan top ten.
Another overseas driver John Stone (Skoda Fabia WRC) hasn’t enjoyed great fortune on his first two visits, hopefully, his trip to Monaghan will have a better outcome.
Frank Wray (Subaru WRC) makes his first appearance in a round of the Triton series as last year’s national championship runner-up Roy White (MG ZR) will be aiming to get his first finish of the season having failed to finish in the opening two rounds.
Meanwhile, the Modified entry in Monaghan is also hugely competitive, led by Gary McPhillips (Ford Escort), the Cavan man renews rivalry with Chris Armstrong (Ford Escort), who is actually equal third overall in the Triton series with Kevin Barrett. Further opposition in the two-wheel drive category is provided by Frank Kelly, Jonathan Pringle and Pat Donegan, all in Ford Escorts.
In Group N Triton Showers category leader Aidan Wray (Mitsubishi) is seeking his third straight win, opposition on Sunday includes Shane Maguire (Mitsubishi), Paul Barrett (Subaru) and the Mitsubishi quintet of Martin Doherty, Pat Kirk, Trevor Bustard, Michael Carbin and Stephen McCann.
Other entries are Pauric Duffy (Fiesta R5), Declan Gallagher (Toyota GT86)
Brian Brogan, John McQuaid and Adrian Hetherington, all in Ford Escorts.
Monaghan’s David Moffett (Toyota Starlet) and Cavan’s Gary Kiernan (Escort) should have a good battle in Class 13 that also features Raymond Conlon (Toyota Corolla) and John Bonner (Ford Escort).
Top 10 Starters:
1. Sam Moffett/James O’Reilly (Ford Fiesta WRC)
2. Donagh Kelly/Kevin Flanagan (Ford Focus WRC)
3. Declan Boyle/Brian Boyle (Subaru WRC)
4. Niall Maguire/Enda Sherry (Subaru WRC)
5. Josh Moffett/Jason McKenna (Ford Fiesta WRC)
6. Peadar Hurson/Damien Connolly (Subaru WRC)
7. Stephen Wright/Mikie Galvin (Ford Fiesta R5)
8. Kevin Barrett/Sean Mullally (Subaru WRC)
9. Alan Ring/Adrian Deasy (Subaru WRC)
10. Steve Wood/Keith Moriarty (Subaru WRC)