Outgoing national rally champion Declan Boyle heads an impressive and overflowing entry for this Sunday's Galway Summer Rally, the penultimate round of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship.
With fellow Donegal driver Donagh Kelly having clinched the title on the last round in Sligo, the battle for the remaining top three slots rests between the trio of Niall Maguire, Alan Ring and Roy White.
Boyle, who won the Sligo Rally, will campaign his state of the art Ford Fiesta WRC and is the favourite for event victory.
His bid to become the first ever driver to record a straight hat trick of National titles was destroyed early in the season with punctures on the opening rounds in Abbeyleix and Roscommon – at the time he led both events.
In Sligo he took a fine victory as Kelly concentrated on landing the prestigious Vard Memorial Trophy.
The battle for second and third is still very much in the balance, former triple national champion Monaghan’s Niall Maguire (Subaru WRC) holds the advantage at present although with dropped scores taken into consideration there is just five points separating the trio.
Maguire best haul of points - 19 – was in the Midland Rally, since then he has switched to the ex-Boyle S12B Subaru WRC and is still adapting to his new acquisition.
For Roy White – third overall in 2013 and runner-up to Boyle (by a single point) last year - another top three finish for the Clonmel driver will be a fine achievement in his MG ZR. The bonus points from the Power Stage could play a deciding role.
Kerry’s Alan Ring (Subaru WRC) missed the last round in Sligo, his best performance was in the Midland Rally where he annexed twenty points - a similar performance in Galway would boost his bid to finish second in the Triton series.
Meanwhile, Welsh driver Steve Wood, a regular in last year’s series, netted third in the recent non-championship round - the Clonmel based Tipperary Stonethrowers Rally. Kevin Barrett in the Triton Showers liveried Subaru WRC will be aiming to secure a top five championship finish.
The top ten also includes Tyrone’s Paddy McVeigh in the ex-Patrick Elliott Subaru WRC, he has made only sporadic outings this season; former national champion Peadar Hurson (Subaru WRC), whilst seeded at number eight, could be amongst the main contenders for event victory; Monaghan’s Daniel McKenna will campaign a Ford Fiesta R5 as Motorsport Safety Group N leader Aidan Wray edges closer to claiming the showroom category of the Triton series.
Elsewhere, Donegal’s Declan Gallagher (Toyota Starlet) is the highest seeded two-wheel drive entry, he faces opposition from the Escorts of Gary McPhillips, Gary Kiernan, Jonathan Pringle, Chris Armstrong, Ed O'Callaghan, Pat Donegan and Mike Quinn in what should be a fascinating contest.
In the race for supremacy in the Triton Showers Mk. 2 Escort Trophy, Cavan pair Armstrong and Jonathan Pringle are on equal points with two rounds remaining. British driver Simon Chapman (Proton Satria) is also on the capacity entry.
In Group N, Trevor Bustard, Shane Maguire, Pat Kirk and Neil Tohill, all in Mitsubishi Evo IX’s and Paul Barrett (Subaru) are Aidan Wray’s opponents.
Top 10 Starters:
1. Declan Boyle/Brian Boyle (Ford Fiesta WRC)
2. Niall Maguire/Enda Sherry (Subaru WRC)
3. Alan Ring/Adrian Deasy (Subaru WRC)
4. Steve Wood/Keith Moriarty (Subaru WRC)
5. Kevin Barrett/Sean Mullally (Subaru WRC)
6. P. McVeigh/Gary McElhinney (Subaru WRC)
7. Roy White/James O'Brien (MG ZR)
8. Peadar Hurson/Damien Connolly (Subaru WRC)
9. Daniel McKenna/Kevin Glynn (Ford Fiesta R5)
10. Aidan Wray/Kieran McGrath (Mitsubishi EvoX)