Kelly, Boyle & Eves head Donegal challenge in Limerick

The Triton Showers National Rally Championship reaches mid-point this Sunday with the Lyons of Limerick Circuit of Munster Rally, round four of the series. The nine-stage rally will be based at the impressive Lyons of Limerick facility at Ballysimon Road, Limerick. The Lyons family have strong links with the rally and motorsport in general and on Sunday, Ken Lyons, also well-known in rugby circles, will compete in the rally as will his son Keith.

Leader of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship and winner of two of the three rounds to date Monaghan’s Josh Moffett (Ford Fiesta WRC) is the top seed. Having won the opening rounds in Abbeyleix and Longford, Josh had to be content with second place on his home event, the Monaghan Rally after his Ford Fiesta WRC punctured during the second loop of stages. Having won all the other major Irish rally championships, the Triton series remains elusive. No doubt, he will aim to return to winning ways in Limerick but given the quality of the entry, it will not be an easy task.

One of his main rivals will be Donegal’s Donagh Kelly (Ford Focus WRC), who won the Monaghan Rally a few weeks ago and is a former winner of both the Circuit of Munster and the Triton series. Kelly has yet to decide if he will continue to pursue a title challenge but has admitted a strong result this weekend could pave the way.

Another Donegal driver Declan Boyle (Ford Fiesta WRC) is committed to a title defence. He used last week’s Cavan Rally as a shakedown for Limerick and his second place in that event (some 44 seconds behind Sam Moffett’s Ford Fiesta WRC) should stand him in good stead as he sets his sights on reducing the 26-point deficit to Josh Moffett.

Former Triton champion Clonmel’s Roy White (Ford Fiesta WRC) was very pleased with his pace in Monaghan where he was third overall, currently in second place in the series, he still awaits his inaugural win in a round of the series.

Another former champion Warrenpoint’s Peadar Hurson (Ford Fiesta WRC) occupies third spot in the eight round series but needs a significant result on Sunday to sustain a realistic title bid. Maynooth’s Ian Barrett will campaign a S12B Subaru WRC and could spit the series regulars. Welshman Hugh Hunter (Ford Focus WRC) is also amongst the top ten that is completed by Donegal trio Kevin Eves (Toyota Corolla), Declan Gallagher (Toyota Starlet) and Kevin Gallagher (Darrian T90). Monaghan’s Stephen Wright (Ford Fiesta R5) is a late entry.

Meanwhile, Tyrone’s Seamus Leonard will compete in a Ford Focus WRC and despite the lack of seat time, he will be expected to make an impression. British driver Steve Wood (Subaru WRC) and local co-driver Keith Moriarty, who won the Circuit of Munster in 2016, are also competing along with Welsh ace Melvyn Evans (Hyundai i20 R5) and Maynooth’s Kevin Barrett in the Triton Showers liveried Subaru WRC, Kevin will have another local co-driver, Sean Mullally calling the notes.

In the Motorsport Safety Team Group N category, Donegal’s Michael Boyle (Mitsubishi) faces opposition from the similar cars of Tyrone’s Niall Devine and Wexford’s Tomas O’Rourke.

The rally is important for title sponsors Lyons of Limerick as long time rally competitor Ken Lyons explains. “We are delighted to put something back into the sport and that we are able to put the facilities here (Lyons of Limerick complex) at the disposal of the Limerick Motor Club and those concerned with the rally. Our staff here will also help out over the weekend.”

While Ken has never won this rally (he did lead on a few occasions) he has finished second and third in previous years. However, he is a former winner of the Thomond Rally, winning the event in 1983, ironically, the last time the event utilised stages in the same location as Sunday’s rally.

Now rallying at a less hectic pace but still enjoying the competitive element, Ken remarked, “I am very proud of the Circuit of Munster, it’s a great rally and the entry this weekend is brilliant. When I was a teenager I marshalled at the club’s events.” Ken will drive a Mk. 2 Ford Escort and will have his regular co-driver Paddy McDonnell calling the notes, they are seeded at No. 37.

The association with Lyons of Limerick is further enhanced with the entry of Keith Lyons (Ford Fiesta R5). Keith and his Sligo co-driver Niall Burns are seeded at No. 17. Keith said, “Going back over the years we (Lyons of Limerick) always had an association with the Circuit of Munster through Ken as well as being an associate sponsor when then rally was based in west Limerick. We never had the opportunity to showcase the facilities here, but following a proposal to the Limerick Motor Club, we have agreed a deal to be the title sponsor for the next three years.”

Aside from the Lyons duo, some on the other Limerick competitors on the entry list are Shanagolden’s Ian Roche (Subaru WRC), who will be co-driven by local Anthony Nestor, who is a national championship winning co-driver (with the late Mickey Farrell in 1994), Mungret’s Paul Purtill (Ford Escort), Kilmallock’s James Murphy (Ford Fiesta), Ardagh’s Kenneth Ryan (Ford Escort), Patrickwell’s Bryan Carrig (Ford Escort) and Ballyneety’s John Byrnes (Renault Clio).

1. Josh Moffett/Andy Hayes (Ford Fiesta WRC)
2. Donagh Kelly/Conor Foley (Ford Focus WRC)
3. Declan Boyle/Brian Boyle (Ford Fiesta WRC)
4. Roy White/James O’Brien (Ford Fiesta WRC)
5. Peadar Hurson/Damien Connolly (Ford Fiesta WRC)
6. Ian Barrett/Paul Magee (Subaru WRC)
7. Hugh Hunter/Rob Fagg (Ford Focus WRC)
8. Kevin Eves/Chris Melly (Toyota Corolla)
9. Declan Gallagher/Derek Heena (Toyota Starlet)
10. Kevin Gallagher/Gerard Callaghan (Darrian T90)