An exciting Monaghan Rally, round three of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship, was won by local duo of Josh Moffett/Jason McKenna (Ford Fiesta WRC). They finished 5.1 seconds in front of the similar car of top seeds and fellow locals Sam Moffett/James O’Reilly. Championship leaders Donagh Kelly/Kevin Flanagan (Ford Focus WRC) were third – 7.8 seconds further behind.
On the opening stage Sam Moffett (Fiesta WRC) set the pace but his younger brother Josh was only two tenths of a second behind followed by the Subaru of Peadar Hurson, who was only nine tenths of a second further adrift.
Triton Showers Championship leader Donagh Kelly occupied fourth in his Ford Focus WRC just 1.3 seconds off the lead. Frank Wray retired his Subaru WRC with engine woes.
Kelly was quickest on the short second stage to take the lead but Josh Moffett set the best time on stage three and arrived at the Monaghan service halt as rally leader with a 3.7 seconds advantage.
Having softened the suspension after the opening stage Josh set a superb time on S.S. 3 on what is effectively his home stage. Second placed Kelly reckoned that he took a steady approach to all three stages while Sam Moffett lost time on the second stage when he overshot a junction.
Fourth placed Peadar Hurson reckoned his Subaru was somewhat twitchy while the battle for fifth was going the way of Stephen Wright (Fiesta R5) – he was four seconds ahead of the Subaru WRC of fellow Monaghan driver Niall Maguire.
Having pushed hard on the opening pair of stages Gary McPhillips (Escort) was steady through the final stage of the opening loop, he held seventh and led the Modified category by nine seconds with Declan Gallagher - in a late switch to his Toyota Starlet - his closest rival. The Escorts of John McQuaid and Jonathan Pringle completed the top ten.
Elsewhere, Triton Showers Championship regulars Roy White (MG ZR), Kevin Barrett (Subaru WRC) and Alan Ring (Subaru WRC) were outside the top ten.
In Group N, Pat Kirk (Mitsubishi) led Martin Doherty (Mitsubishi) by a mere two tenths of a second. Local ace Shane Maguire crashed his Mitsubishi out of the rally on the second stage while Paul Barrett (Subaru) had a moment on the opening stage that sapped his confidence.
Out on the repeat loop of three stages the battle for supremacy intensified – Josh Moffett was quickest on Stage 4, Kelly was the best driver through Stage 5 and Sam Moffett set the pace on Stage 6.
Josh Moffett arrived at the final service halt with a damaged front left wing, “I was off the road after a crest and I was very lucky to get away with it.” Despite the indiscretion, the Monaghan drive led his brother Sam by 8.8 seconds with Kelly 1.6 seconds behind in third. The Triton Showers Championship leader opined “That final stage of the loop is a real Fiesta stage and of course the Moffett’s live there as well.”
Meanwhile, Hurson continued in fourth and having stiffened the Subaru he was far more pleased with its performance.
In the battle for fifth, Wright continued to lead Maguire, however, the latter had cut the deficit to just 1.3 seconds. Wright stated that the handling of the car was much improved after the set up was stiffened and the car was lowered a little.
Leader of the rear wheel drive category McPhillips was untroubled as was his rival Declan Gallagher, albeit for a slight overshoot on S.S. 6. The top ten was completed by Jonathan Pringle (Escort) and Roy White (MG ZR). In Group N, Martin Doherty was 3.2 seconds in front of Pat Kirk, also in a Mitsubishi. John McQuaid (Escort) crashed out on S.S. 5.
On the first stage of the final loop (S.S. 7) Sam Moffett cut the deficit to just three seconds with Kelly 10.2 seconds further adrift in third. Josh gained four tenths of a second on the penultimate test where Kelly was quickest. On the final stage Josh Moffett set the best time to clinch victory with Sam Moffett and Kelly completing the top three. As neither of the Moffett brothers registered for the Triton series, Kelly took maximum points and also the three additional points for the Power Stage as he extended his lead in the series
Hurson, Wright and Maguire completed the top six. Declan Gallagher (Toyota Starlet) won the Modified section- his rival and long time category leader Gary McPhillips crashed his Escort on the final corner of the final stage.
Defending National Rally champion Declan Boyle (Subaru WRC) was the principal non-starter due to transmission difficulties.
The Triton Showers Drive of the Day was won by Jonathan Pringle/Martin Byrne (Ford Escort).
Victory in the Group N category was won by Martin Doherty/Conor Foley (Mitsubishi).
1. J. Moffett/J. McKenna (Ford Fiesta WRC) 43m. 06.3s.
2. S. Moffett/J. O'Reilly (Ford Fiesta WRC) 43m. 11.4s.
3. D. Kelly/K. Flanagan (Ford Focus WRC) 43m. 19.2s.
4. P. Hurson/D. Connolly (Subaru WRC) 43m. 42.1s.
5. S. Wright/M. Galvin (Ford Fiesta R5+) 44m. 36.5s.
6. N. Maguire/E. Sherry (Subaru WRC) 44m. 49.4s.
7. D. Gallagher/R. Moore (Toyota Starlet) 45m. 16.3s.
8. J. Pringle/M. Byrne (Ford Escort) 45m. 35.1s.
9. R. White/J. O'Brien (MG ZR) 45m. 39.9s.
10. D. Moffett/F. Sherry (Toyota Starlet) 45m. 45.8s.
Triton Showers National Rally Championship – Provisional Positions after Round 3: 1. D Kelly (Ford Focus) 66 points; 2. N Maguire (Subaru) 50 points; =3. C. Armstrong 34 points.