Sligo offers Kelly first chance of National Rally title

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Triton Showers National Rally Championship leader Donagh Kelly (Ford Focus WRC) has the first of three opportunities to clinch the Vard Memorial Trophy on Sunday’s McCormack Opel/Sligo Park Hotel Rally, round six of the eight round campaign.

Donegal driver Kelly and his Derry co-driver Kevin Flanagan have been in sensational form in this year’s national campaign where they have stormed their way through five rounds securing all but three of the 115 points that were on offer. This season’s introduction of a Power Stage – akin to the World Rally Championship - allows the fastest Triton Showers registered competitor over the final stage to gain an additional three points. Kelly has won every Power Stage bar the opening round in Abbeyleix when Garry Jennings created history in becoming the first to win a Power Stage in the Triton Series.

In Sligo, eleven championship points will be sufficient for Kelly to annex the prestigious Vard Memorial Trophy for the very first time. “Yes, it will be a Sunday drive, much as we would like to have a go, we must be sensible as well. I didn’t set out with any aspirations but now it would be nice to win the title. I have really enjoyed the Triton series, it’s been great with the level of promotion and publicity. There is a competitive rivalry in all regards but it’s also been a friendly rivalry.” said Kelly.

Meanwhile, outgoing champion and fellow Donegal driver Declan Boyle, who is the top seed, will give his state of the art Ford Focus WRC it’s debut in the national championship. Monaghan’s Sam Moffett (Ford Fiesta WRC), who won his home event last April, should provide some great opposition for the Donegal pair.

In the last round in Waterford former triple champion Niall Maguire debuted the
ex-Boyle S12B Subaru WRC and although he took some time to acclimatise the Monaghan man should be quicker in Sligo where he has won in the past. With Kelly set for Triton success and in the absence of Kerry’s Alan Ring, Maguire can take a major step in securing the runner-up spot.

One of the great legends of Irish rallying, Banbridge rally preparation expert Kenny McKinstry makes his first appearance in a round of the series Triton series where he is seeded at number six ahead of the similar S14 Subaru WRC of title sponsor Kevin Barrett, who will be keen to get back on track after crashing out in Waterford.

Having finished runner-up last year and third in 2013, Clonmel’s Roy White (MG ZR) can improve his bid for a top three finish, currently, he is fourth overall 13 points adrift of third placed Alan Ring.

Also in the Sligo top ten are Tyrone’s Martin Cairns (S14 Subaru WRC), John Cairns (Subaru WRC) and top two-wheel drive competitor Donegal’s Declan Gallagher (Toyota Starlet). Gallagher could make a late bid for the title, with points from Monaghan and the last round in Waterford, he has annexed 27 points, Cavan’s Chris Armstrong has 46 points with Jonathan Pringle on 40 points.

The modified entry includes the Escorts of Jonathan Pringle, Gary Kiernan, Chris Armstrong and David Moffett (Toyota Starlet). Armstrong is four points ahead of Pringle in the battle for success in the Triton Showers Mk. 2 Champions Trophy.

In Group N, Donegal’s Trevor Bustard (Mitsubishi EvoIX) faces opposition from the similar cars of Pat Kirk, Shane Maguire, Aidan Wray (Mitsubishi EvoX) and Paul Barrett (Subaru). In the Motorsport Safety Group N category Wray is six points ahead of Paul Barrett.