Rivalry is nothing new in the Triton Showers National Rally Championship but it takes on an extra dimension this weekend on round three of the series, the Four Seasons Hotel Monaghan Rally.
The capacity entry has a strong local flavour that features the Moffett brothers Sam and Josh, who between them have won the rally every year since 2013, albeit with the exception of last year when Donegal’s Donagh Kelly (Ford Focus WRC) took the laurels. But even then there was a local link as Kelly was co-driven by Monaghan’s Conor Foley.
The Moffett duo will have much to discuss over breakfast and other breaks this week ahead of Sunday’s nine stage encounter where Josh seeks his third successive win of this season’s Triton campaign and Sam, who won the Triton series in 2017, seeks a fourth win on his home event. Indeed, last year (driving his Fiesta R5) he had a great battle with Kelly and only lost by 1.8 seconds.
The brothers have an intriguing sibling rivalry but they have an agreement that they rotate the use of their Fiesta WRC on an annual basis.
On Sunday and based on that plan, it’s Sam’s time to use the more powerful Fiesta WRC but the conundrum facing Josh is that he wants the best possible opportunity to win the rally and take maximum points for the third time.
Meanwhile, Donegal driver Donagh Kelly has a dual reason for competing. An extremely busy work schedule has meant few outings for the Kelly/Foley combination, however, along with providing Foley with another opportunity to win his home event, it is also seat time for both before they compete in the Donegal International Rally later in the year when they will also campaign the very successful Ford Focus WRC as opposed to their Skoda Fabia R5.
Sam and Josh are next off the start line and will be followed by triple National Rally champion Donegal’s Declan Boyle (Ford Fiesta WRC), who has been Josh’s main rival on both rounds of this year’s Triton series. With the series based on the best seven from eight events Declan has a tough task on this occasion as he tries to stop the Moffett express.
Another of the title contenders is Clonmel’s Roy White (Ford Fiesta WRC), a national winner in 2016, he occupies the number five berth in Monaghan and will be determined to match the pace of his Triton rivals.
Ballinode’s Niall Maguire (Subaru WRC) knows what its like to win on home ground, a multiple winner, his last success was in 2010. He remains a great stalwart of the National series and while he has lost some of that outright pace, he still enjoys competing, particularly on his local event.
The top ten is completed by Donegal’s Joe McGonigle (Mini WRC), Warrenpoint’s Peadar Hurson (Ford Fiesta WRC), Armagh’s Darren Gass (Skoda Fabia R5) and another local driver Stephen Wright (Ford Fiesta R5).
Hurson has local co-driver Damien Connolly calling the notes and cannot be ruled out of the victory equation provided their Fiesta WRC is trouble free.
Gass has enlisted the services of another local co-driver Enda Sherry. Business commitments have meant few outings for Stephen Wright and it may take a few stages to get to the pace of the regulars.
Just outside the top ten are national championship title sponsor Kevin Barrett in his Triton backed Subaru WRC, Donegal’s PJ McDermott also in a Subaru WRC and Welshman Hugh Hunter (Ford Focus WRC).
The Modified entry is headed by Donegal’s Kevin Eves (Toyota Corolla) with Cavan’s Jonny Pringle, Armagh’s Damian Toner and the Donegal trio of Stuart Darcy, John Bonner and Damien Gallagher and local ace Johnno Doogan, all in Ford Escorts providing ample opposition. Wexford’s James Stafford (Darrian) is amongst the reserves.
Mitsubishi Evo IX pair of Donegal’s Michael Boyle and Ballinode’s Shane Maguire are the principals in Motorsport Safety Team Group N category that also includes the similar car of Wexford’s Tomas O’Rourke.
Maynooth’s Paul Barrett competes in his Ford Fiesta R5 as he continues to acclimatise to his new surroundings.
Elsewhere, local interest is plentiful with David Moffett (Toyota Starlet), Mickey Conlon (Ford Escort), Michael Carbin (Mitsubishi EvoVIII) and Seamus Connolly (Toyota Corolla) all aiming to impress.
Organising Club: Monaghan Motor Club.
Clerk of the Course: Eoghan Corr.
Rally Headquarters: Four Seasons Hotel, Monaghan. 047 81888.
1.Donagh Kelly/Conor Foley (Ford Focus WRC)
2. Sam Moffett /James Fulton (Ford Fiesta WRC)
3. Josh Moffett/Andy Hayes (Ford Fiesta R5)
4. Declan Boyle/Brian Boyle (Ford Fiesta WRC)
5. Roy White/James O'Brien (Ford Fiesta WRC)
6. Niall Maguire/James O'Reilly (Subaru WRC)
7. Joe McGonigle/Ciaran Geaney (Mini WRC)
8. Peadar Hurson/Damien Connolly (Ford Fiesta WRC)
9. Darren Gass/Enda Sherry (Skoda Fabia R5)
10. Stephen Wright/Stephen Thornton (Ford Fiesta R5)