Monaghan’s Josh Moffett (Ford Fiesta WRC) survived some late drama to claim an important victory in the Clonmel based Fanning Motor Factors Tipperary Stonethrowers Rally, round four of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship.
At the finish of the nine-stage event Moffett and his Limerick co-driver Keith Moriarty were 7.8 seconds ahead of the similar car of Donegal’s Declan Boyle and his Monaghan co-driver James O’Reilly. Former Triton Showers National Rally champions, Clonmel’s Roy White (Ford Fiesta WRC) and his Cork co-driver James O’Brien were a minute and 10.5 seconds further behind in third.
Donegal’s Stuart Darcy (Darrian T90) took a final stage win in the two-wheel drive category after Cavan’s Chris Armstrong (Ford Escort) punctured on the final stage.
In the Motorsport Safety Group N category, Waterford’s Brian O’Keeffe (Mitsubishi EvoIX) finished 24.9 seconds in front of the Mitsubishi EvoX of Maynooth’s Paul Barrett.
Moffett was best on the opening stage near Cahir where he extricated a lead of 11.8 seconds over Boyle with White 1.8 seconds further back in third followed by McGonigle and Daragh O’Riordan (Fiesta WRC), who was a late entry. Boyle was marginally quicker on the remaining two stages of the loop and arrived at the Powerstown Racecourse service park 10.4 seconds behind rally leader Moffett.
Boyle commented that the suspension was too soft on the opening stage and he tweaked it prior to the start of the next stage. Rally leader Moffett was far from content and reckoned S.S. 3 was the only stage that he could draw solace from his driving. White, 32.3 seconds behind Boyle was even more dissatisfied, he opined that he had no confidence in his ability and struggled as a result. McGonigle was only a fraction adrift in fourth, stating he needed a harder compound tyre. O’Riordan just a second behind McGonigle was untroubled.
Stuart Darcy (Darrian) led the two-wheel drive category and was sixth in general classification. Daniel Cronin occupied seventh but was concerned about a noise emanating from his Fiesta R5 on the road back to service. Chris Armstrong (Escort), Johnny Jordan (Toyota Starlet) and Adrian Hetherington (Escort) rounded out the top ten. Daniel Barry (Citroen DS3 R5) seventh after S.S. 2 slipped down to 47th when he was of the road on a right-hander on S.S. 3 and the altercation damaged the steering.
Out on the second loop Moffett got into the groove and kept a good pace and at the final service he led Boyle by 22 seconds. For his part Boyle lost time when he clouted a bank on S.S. 4 and overshot on a square right on S.S. 5. Third placed White – 50.2 seconds further behind remarked that his driving was much improved, helped by a better set-up.
McGonigle occupied fourth followed by the Fiesta WRC of an untroubled O’Riordan. Cronin was sixth, the earlier noise transpired to be a broken anti-roll bar and with no spare, the service crew customised a replacement.
In the modified section, Chris Armstrong (Ford Escort) went ahead after he increased his pace, his plight also helped by Darcy’s spin on S.S. 4 and a misfire on S.S. 5 – he fell some 16 seconds behind his Cavan rival. The top ten was completed by the Toyota Starlet of Johnny Jordan and the Escort of Adrian Hetherington.
In Group N, Waterford’s Brian O’Keeffe (Mitsubishi EvoIX) led Paul Barrett’s EvoX version by some twenty seconds
Out on the closing loop Boyle whittled the margin down to 3.4 seconds with one stage remaining after Moffett’s Fiesta lapsed on to three cylinders. However, Moffett was back on full power to win the final stage and took the spoils by a margin of 7.8 seconds. Moffett also netted the point from the Power Stage to claim the maximum 21 points available and with three rounds remaining, he is certainly Boyle’s main rival for the Vard Memorial Trophy. White stopped on S.S. 8 as he thought Boyle had gone off the road, his time was later amended and he retained his third place.
Armstrong punctured on the final stage and Darcy claimed the two-wheel drive honours. On what was his first rally in quite a while, Kevin Barrett (Subaru WRC) finished ninth.
The Triton Showers Drive of the Day went to Galway’s Des Lyons/Des Sherlock (Honda Civic).
The Junior category was won by Armagh’s Jason Black/Jack McKenna (Toyota Starlet).
Triton Showers National Rally Championship (Provisional Positions after Round 4): 1. D. Boyle 77pts; 2. J. McGonigle 60pts; 3. J. Moffett 59pts; 4. S. Darcy 47pts; =5. D. Kelly & R. White 42 pts.
After the race, Martin Walsh spoke with Declan Boyle, and the Donegalman knows he has work to do to win the Championship...