Monaghan’s Sam Moffett (Ford Fiesta WRC) continued his domination of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship with victory in the Rathkeale House Hotel Circuit of Munster Rally, round four of the campaign.
In what was the closest contest of the series to date, Moffett and local co-driver Keith Moriarty finished 12.4 seconds ahead of the Ford Focus WRC of former Triton champion Donegal’s Donagh Kelly and his Monaghan co-driver Conor Foley.
Ulster pair Alastair Fisher/Gordon Noble (Fiesta R5) were one minute and 39.4 seconds further behind in third.
The Group N category was won by Limerick’s Colm Murphy (Subaru) and his Cork co-driver Don Montgomery. Tyrone’s Vivian Hamill/Denver Rafferty (Escort) were the top two-wheel drive exponents.
Triton series leader Sam Moffett (Fiesta WRC) was quickest through the opening stage near Barnagh where he extricated a 3.1 second advantage over the Ford Focus WRC of Donagh Kelly with Declan Boyle (Fiesta WRC) a further 9.4 seconds adrift and just 1.8 seconds ahead of the Fiesta R5 of Alastair Fisher, Desi Henry (Skoda Fabia R5) and Manus Kelly (Subaru WRC) completed the top six.
In showery conditions tyre choice proved crucial, Donagh Kelly was quickest through second stage and fellow county man Declan Boyle was best on the third and final stage of the loop. At the Newcastle West service park, rally leader Kelly expressed satisfaction with his pace. Moffett, 3.1 seconds behind wasn’t happy with his performance through the second and third stages, the Monaghan man admitted to having a few moments on S.S. 3.
Boyle was 19.7 seconds further adrift in third, he lost time in the rain on the opening stage and he reckoned the set-up of his Fiesta WRC wasn’t right through S.S. 2, however, he made adjustments and it performed much better on the third stage.
Alastair Fisher in fourth was the leading R5 car and was followed by the Subaru WRC of Manus Kelly, who decided to back off a little on the third stage as he had chosen the wrong tyres.
Seventh on the opening stage, Keith Cronin (Fiesta R5) slotted into fourth a stage later but a massive overshoot on the third stage dropped him to sixth.
Elsewhere, seventh placed Desi Henry slid his Skoda Fabia R5 into a ditch on the third stage and lost over thirty seconds and had to rely on spectators to get him back on the road. The top ten was completed by Roy White, Josh Moffett and Niall Maguire. White picked the wrong tyres for his Fiesta WRC, Moffett (Fiesta R5) had a half spin on the third stage, he was on a confidence building exercise after his accident on the last round in Monaghan. Maguire stalled his Subaru on the opening stage.
In Group N, Athea driver Colm Murphy (Subaru) on his first rally in some three years, led the way, he was eleventh in general classification. Shane Maguire and Neil Tohill were next in the showroom category as Motorsport Safety Team leader David Guest (Mitsubishi) lost several minutes on the second stage where he slid into a drain and required the help of several spectators to re-join the action.
Out on the second loop and although Kelly extended his lead over Moffett to 6.4 seconds on S.S. 4, the Monaghan man responded in perfect fashion and regained the lead courtesy of two fastest stage times. At the final service, the event was finely poised with Moffett 2.1 seconds ahead of Kelly. On the fifth stage Declan Boyle (Fiesta WRC) retired after he lost over five minutes with a puncture.
His demise promoted Fermanagh’s Alastair Fisher into third spot albeit over a minute behind Donagh Kelly.
Manus Kelly (Subaru) occupied fourth from Keith Cronin, who made some adjustments after his Fiesta R5 suffered some steering issues. Roy White in sixth remarked that the tyres he used for the second loop would have been better for the first loop and vice versa. Desi Henry (Skoda Fabia R5) was seventh, Josh Moffett continued his confidence building, he was eighth as Niall Maguire and Group N leader Colm Murphy completed the top ten.
Moffett went on to secure his fourth win of the Triton campaign, he also picked up a bonus point from the Power Stage and for good measure, won the Triton Showers Drive of the Day. Kelly took second to remain in the title equation while Fisher was third. The remainder of the top ten was unchanged with tenth placed Colm Murphy (Subaru) winning Group N – Monaghan’s Shane Maguire (Mitsubishi) moves into the lead of the Motorsport Safety Group N category, pre-event leader David Guest retired with transmission problems soon after he completed the seventh stage. Neil Tohill (Mitsubishi) and Paul Barrett (Subaru) also failed to finish.
Monaghan’s Jonny Treanor/Stephen McElroy (Honda Civic) won the Junior category from Meath’s Brian Brady/Leonard Tuite and Donegal’s Michael Boyle/Dermot McCafferty, also in Honda Civics.
1. S. Moffett/K. Moriarty (Ford Fiesta) 1h. 06m. 14.8s.
2. D. Kelly/C. Foley (Ford Focus WRC) 1h. 06m. 27.2s.
3. A. Fisher/G. Noble (Ford Fiesta R5) 1h. 08m. 06.6s.
4. M. Kelly/G. Doherty (Subaru WRC) 1h. 08m. 12.7s.
5. K. Cronin/M. Galvin (Ford Fiesta R5) 1h. 08m. 35.0s.
6. R. White/J. O’Brien (Ford Fiesta WRC) 1h. 08m. 52.2s.
7. D. Henry/J. Rowan (Skoda Fabia R5) 1h. 08m. 53.1s.
8. J. Moffett/J. Fulton (Ford Fiesta R5) 1h. 10m. 02.5s.
9. N. Maguire/A. Nestor (Subaru WRC) 1h. 10m. 59.5s.
10. C. Murphy/D. Montgomery (Subaru) 1h. 12m. 39.8s.
Provisional Championship Positions after Round 4:
S. Moffett 83points.
R. White 59points;
=3. D. Kelly & N. Maguire 53points.
5. S. Maguire 39points.