With his sixth victory in as many events, the latest on the FAAC Simply automatic/Sligo Park Hotel Rally, Monaghan’s Sam Moffett (Ford Fiesta WRC) clinched the Triton Showers National Rally Championship in style.
Co-driven by Cork’s Karl Atkinson, twenty-seven year old Moffett finished a minute and 35.6 seconds clear of the Skoda Fabia R5 of Derry’s Desi Henry and his Cork co-driver Liam Moynihan. Former triple champion Niall Maguire (Subaru WRC) and his co-driver Enda Sherry were a minute and 22.2 seconds further behind in third.
On the opening stage near Ballintogher Sam Moffett (Fiesta WRC) punched in the best time and led the similar car of Declan Boyle by 3.7 seconds with late entry Josh Moffett in his Fiesta R5 some 8.1 seconds further behind. Reigning Triton champion Roy White (Fiesta WRC) was fourth.
Boyle made adjustments to the set-up of his Fiesta and reaped the rewards by claiming the best times for the other two stages of the opening loop. At the Colooney service park he led Sam Moffett by 9.4 seconds, the latter remarked that his car was unstable on the stages. Meanwhile, his brother Josh retained third – albeit 17.4 seconds further behind. Roy White was untroubled in fourth followed by Derry’s Desi Henry (Skoda Fabia R5) and fellow Ulsterman Jonny Greer (Citroen DS3 R5).
Niall Maguire (Subaru WRC) occupied seventh in a top ten that also featured Martin Cairns (Fiesta WRC), Kenny McKinstry (Subaru) and Brendan Cumiskey (Skoda Fabia R5).
In the Motorsport Safety Group N category, Shane Maguire (Mitsubishi) held a 5.4 second advantage over title rival David Guest, who made tyre choice that was far too brave and paid the consequences with an overshoot.
The second loop of three stages brought a significant change to the top ten.
Boyle was lucky not to have lost more time at a right hand junction when he slid wide and clouted a bank, yet, he only dropped a few seconds and still led Moffett by seven seconds. Greer retired when he slid his Citroen DS3 R5 off the road.
Quickest on S.S. 5 Boyle extended his advantage to 9.2 seconds but his rally ended on the next stage when he punctured, although he finished the stage, he withdrew at the stage finish as he had lost over three minutes.
Meanwhile, Josh Moffett (Fiesta R5) lost third place when his Fiesta R5 punctured and he had to stop and change the front left wheel.
At the final service Sam Moffett held a significant advantage, he was a minute and 12.3 seconds clear of new second placed driver Desi Henry. The rally leader was concerned about a vibration that was still present despite changing rims and tyres. However, he did admit that a change of tyres brought a marked difference in the handling of the car.
Second placed Henry reckoned his Skoda was down on power and attributed the loss to a leak from the turbo boost. Niall Maguire in third recalled an overshoot that cost him around twenty seconds. White in fourth had an eventful loop, he also had a moment at the same location where Boyle clouted a bank on the fourth stage. He lost more time on the next stage when he overshot a junction and then as he tried to exit that situation he beached his Fiesta WRC, the whole sequence cost the outgoing Triton champion around two minutes. McKinstry in fifth had issues with the brakes while Boyle was still classified as sixth.
Elsewhere, Martin Cairns on his first tarmac event in his new Fiesta WRC was untroubled in seventh and was followed by Brendan Cumiskey (Skoda Fabia R5) and the Mitsubishi of Group N leader Shane Maguire. Motorsport Safety Team Group N championship rival David Guest (Mitsubishi) was just over a minute behind as he struggled with tyres. Fellow Group N drivers Niall Devine, Trevor Bustard and Paul Barrett were sandwiched between the main title rivals. Monaghan’s Mickey Conlon (Escort) led the modified category even though he had problems with the front brake discs.
On the final loop of stages Sam Moffett went on to seal his sixth win of the season, he also won the Power Stage. En-route to his first ever national title, he has claimed all but one of the 126 points that were available.
Henry despite a moment on the seventh stage when he clouted the front of his Skoda Fabia R5, took second with Maguire third. Josh Moffett (Fiesta R5) continued his recovery to claim fourth.
Monaghan’s Mickey Conlon (Escort) won the modified category and also netted the Triton Showers Drive of the Day award.
Meanwhile, the Junior event was won by Monaghan’s Jonny Treanor (Honda Civic), who finished over a minute ahead of the Toyota Starlet of Armagh’s Jason Black with series leader Meath’s Brian Brady (Honda Civic) third.
1. S. Moffett/K. Atkinson (Ford Fiesta WRC) 1h. 07m. 55.7s.
2. D. Henry/L. Moynihan (Skoda Fabia R5) 1h. 09m. 31.3s.
3. N. Maguire/E. Sherry (Subaru WRC) 1h. 10m. 53.5s.
4. J. Moffett/J. Fulton (Ford Fiesta R5) 1h. 11m. 22.3s.
5. R. White/J. O’Brien (Ford Fiesta WRC) 1h. 11m. 38.6s.
6. B. Cumiskey/R. O’Kane (Skoda Fabia R5) 1h. 12m. 22.4s.
7. K. McKinstry/K. Hull (Subaru WRC) 1h. 12m. 51.5s.
8. M. Cairns/A. Purcell (Ford Fiesta WRC) 1h. 13m. 08.4s.
9. S. Maguire/D. Kelly (Mitsubishi EvoIX) 1h. 13m. 28.7s.
10. N. Devine/C. Henderson (Mitsubishi EvoIX) 1h. 14m. 17.9s.
1. J. Treanor/D. Fleming (Honda Civic) 48m. 55.1s.
2. J. Black/J. McKenna (Toyota Starlet) 49m. 57.5s.
3. B. Brady/L. Tuite (Honda Civic) 50m. 18.0s.
Images from Seamus Counihan