Josh Moffett & Andy Hayes in their Ford Fiesta R5 took an excellent victory in the UAC Easter Stages Rally with a hard fought 4.6 second victory over Sam Moffett & Karl Atkinson in a similar car. The result gives Josh two maximum scores to date in the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship and extends his lead over his brother to six points. Like the previous round in West Cork, Josh withstood a late charge from his older brother to give him his first overall win on a Tarmac Championship round since the Cork 20 Rally in 2016. Marty McCormack took third place in his Skoda but is not championship registered so Robert Barrable in fourth place maintains third overall in the series to date.
Derek McGarrity had led the event after the first day in his Subaru Impreza WRC, but gearbox problems leaving Parc Ferme on the second morning made it a straight fight between the R5 contenders. Josh had been third overnight but a quick opening stage moved him into a lead he never relinquished. Sam moved from fourth to second after that opening stage and McCormack had to settle for third. Barrable in fourth place finished 54 seconds off the lead by the end of the event and was never quite close enough to match the pace of the front two. Jonny Greer edged Daniel Cronin for fifth place on the penultimate stage but it was still a very impressive showing from the Cork driver with some excellent stage times.
Stephen Wright and Eugene Donnelly were next of the Tarmac championship contenders with Donnelly still on a steep learning curve with the new car. However the times on the second day were more competitive and Eugene feels more time in the car will bring him closer to the pack. There was major disappointment for Desi Henry who gave his new Skoda Fabia its debut and was setting some very impressive stage times until he slid off the road on the fifth stage to go OTL and out of the rally.
Provisional Championship Placings after Round 2
1 – Josh Moffett 34
2 – Sam Moffett 28
3 – Robert Barrable 24
4 – Daniel Cronin 16
5 – Jonny Greer 15
In the other categories, Kevin Eves continued his impressive run with tenth overall and top Modified championship contender to make it two maximum scores from two events to date. Jason Roche was next up of the registered contenders to take his first points of the season and move in to joint third place while J.R. McDaid was next up and now lies second overall in the championship. Wesley Patterson had mechanical problems and was forced into Rally 2 but picked up some valuable championship points ahead of Joe McQuillan who also finished the event in Rally 2.
Stanley Orr was an impressive 18th overall and took top points in the Historic Category while Martin Freestone also scored points following his retirement on the previous round at West Cork. The Junior Championship leader Gary McNamee took full points again ahead of Gareth Deazley who moves into joint second overall in the series. The crews now head to the third round of the championship in Killarney on May Bank holiday weekend where some of Irelands classic stages will be tackled.
Photo of rally winners and current championship leaders Josh Moffett & Andy Hayes is courtesy of Kevin Glendinning.