A new season of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship gets underway on Sunday next with the Óstán Oileán Acla/Connacht Print & Signs Mayo Rally. The event showcases the splendid scenery of Achill Island where nine stages – a loop of three stages repeated three times – form the thrust of the event.
Four former national champions are amongst the entry with Donegal’s Declan Boyle and Donagh Kelly along with Monaghan’s Niall Maguire and Tipperary’s Roy White sharing a total of seven titles.
White (Ford Fiesta WRC) is the most recent champion of the quartet – winning the Triton series two seasons ago – remarkably, he clinched the Vard Memorial Trophy without actually winning any of the events. Just a few weeks ago as a shakedown for this event White won the Nenagh Rally where Kelly and Boyle were second and third respectively.
While that victory is likely to be a confidence booster for the Clonmel driver, he will be under no illusions as he is very aware that his rivals will have also benefitted from their seat time. Both White and Boyle (Ford Fiesta WRC) are committed to a full Triton programme and each will endeavor to secure as many championship points as possible from this event.
Meanwhile, Kelly (Ford Focus WRC) is using the event as a shakedown for his bid to win next week’s West Cork Rally in Clonakilty for an unprecedented fifth successive year. A winner of the 2015 Triton series Kelly will compete in the next round in Kerry before deciding whether to continue with a championship bid. Interestingly, it will be the first time for the trio to compete in Achill.
Maguire (Subaru WRC) is a triple national champion and has won the Mayo Rally in 2015 and previously in 2012, he’s been chasing that elusive fourth national crown since 2004.
Another former Mayo Rally winner Garry Jennings will compete in his Subaru WRC, a past Irish Tarmac champion, the Fermanagh man had an all too brief outing in Nenagh where he retired after just two stages.
Monaghan’s Josh Moffett (Fiesta R5) is also on the entry list, he is seeded at number six and given a strong result may get involved in a championship bid to try and emulate his brother Sam, who won the Triton series last year.
An interesting entry is that of Derry driver Desi Henry in his recently acquired Ford Fiesta R5, how quickly he adapts to his new car remains to be seen and the picturesque stages in Achill could provide part if not all of the answer.
Last year’s rally winner Donegal’s Joe McGonigle will campaign a Mini WRC as opposed to the Skoda Fabia R5 he drove to success last year, he too is on the trail of the Triton series for the season ahead. Having won in Mayo last year, he will have the number one decals on the door of his Mini WRC.
Maynooth’s Kevin Barrett in the Triton Showers sponsored Subaru WRC will occupy the number nine spot, he is a former winner of the Mayo Rally (2011) and was second in both 2010 and 2012.
In Group N, Motorsport Safety Triton Showers champion Monaghan’s Shane Maguire (Mitsubishi) will battle with former champion Tyrone’s Aidan Wray (Mitsubishi EvoIX) and Maynooth’s Paul Barrett in the Vado liveried Subaru.
Vado will again sponsor the television coverage of the Triton series via On the Limit Sports that will be shown on terrestrial and satellite television.
Elsewhere, the Modified section features entries from Tyrone’s Adrian Hetherington (Escort), Cavan’s Chris Armstrong (Escort), former Billy Coleman award winner Donegal’s Stuart Darcy (Darrian), Carlow’s David Condell (Escort), Monaghan’s Mickey Conlon (Escort), who won the category in last year’s Triton series and Donegal’s Michael Boyle (Honda Civic).
Scotland’s Lee Hastings (Subaru), a class winner in last year’s Triton National Rally Championship is also competing as is Limerick’s Eamonn Daly (Mitsubishi) and Derry’s Niall Henry (Mitsubishi)
In the Junior section Shrule’s Noel Murphy (Honda Civic) is the top local entry and he will face stern opposition from Monaghan’s Jonny Treanor (Honda Civic) and Armagh’s Jason Black (Toyota Starlet).
A number of Mayo drivers are competing on the event with Achill’s Peter McManamon (Peugeot 205) and Brian Lavelle (Honda Civic) hoping to make a good impression in front of their local folowers. Others such as Belcarra’s Barry Cuffe (Escort) and Colm O’Connor (Toyota Corolla); Crossmolina’s Stephen Gallagher, John Duffy and Stephen Gallagher all in Honda Civics; Castlebar’s Gordon Nimmo (Ford Fiesta); Ballina’s Tony Langdon (Honda Integra) and Bonniconlon’s Trisha Greavey (Honda Civic) add to the interest.
Organising Club: Mayo & District Motorsports Club
Clerk of the Course: Trevor O’Connell.
Rally Headquarters: Óstán Oileán Acla. Tel: 098 45138
First Car Away: 09. 00.
S.S. 1, 4 & 7: Saile (5.15km) 9.56, 12.40 & 15.24.
S.S. 2, 5 & 8: Atlantic Drive (15.14km) 10.15, 12.59 & 15.43.
S.S. 3, 6 & 9: The Valley (16.31km) 11.05, 13.49 & 16.33
Service: Keel Sandybanks Caravan & Camping Park, Keel: 9.22, 11.36 & 14.20.
Finish Ramp: Óstán Oileán Acla. 17.15.
Top 10 Starters:
1. J. McGonigle/C. Geaney (Mini WRC)
2. R. White/J. O’Brien (Ford Fiesta WRC)
3. D. Kelly/C. Foley (Ford Focus WRC)
4. D. Boyle/J. O’Reilly (Ford Fiesta WRC)
5. G. Jennings/R. Kennedy (Subaru WRC)
6. J. Moffett/K. Moriarty (Ford Fiesta R5)
7. D. Henry/L. Moynihan (Ford Fiesta R5)
8. N. Maguire/E. Sherry (Subaru WRC)
9. K. Barrett/S. Mullally (Subaru WRC)
10. A. Hetherington/R. O’Neill (Ford Escort)
2018 Triton Showers National Rally Championship Diary Dates:
1. Mayo Rally (March 11)
2. Circuit of Kerry Rally (April 8)
3. Cavan Rally (May 27)
4. Sligo Rally (July 8)
5. Tipperary Stonethrowers Rally (August 12)
6. Clare Rally (September 16)
7. Donegal Harvest Rally (October 13)