Taking the lead on the third stage Monaghan’s Josh Moffett (Ford Fiesta WRC) and his Wexford co-driver Andy Hayes won the Lyons of Limerick Circuit of Munster Rally, round four of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship. They finished 21.1 seconds ahead of Donegal cousins Declan and Brian Boyle.
Clonmel’s Roy White and his Cork co-driver James O’Brien were 24.2 seconds further behind to complete an all Ford Fiesta WRC top three. Early leaders Donegal’s Donagh Kelly and Monaghan’s Conor Foley retired their Ford Focus WRC with a broken throttle spring on the seventh stage.
Meanwhile, Shanagolden’s Ian Roche (Subaru WRC) and co-driver Anthony Nestor were the top Limerick crew, they finished eleventh overall despite an on-going clutch problem throughout the rally, they also won Class 15. The all Limerick crew of Maurice and Stephen Meskell (Ford Escort) won Class 12 and another Limerick driver Des Roche and his Cork co-driver Mairead Dunne (Honda Civic) won Class 1. Keith Lyons (Ford Fiesta R5) of the event’s title sponsor, Lyons of Limerick, had no handbrake for most of the rally, he was 27th. overall and fifth in Class 5.
Donagh Kelly was quickest through the opening stage - 4.8 seconds ahead of Moffett, who had gear issues with Boyle 3.6 seconds further behind. Boyle was best on the second stage as Kelly continued to lead Moffett by 6.1 seconds with Boyle closing to within 1.8 seconds of second spot. The stage was curtailed when Donegal’s Declan Gallagher crashed his Proton Iriz R5. On the longest stage of the rally Moffett set the fastest time to move into a 4.8 second lead over Kelly, who reckoned that while his tyre selection was correct for the first two stages, they were not suited the third stage.
Third placed Boyle reckoned he could have done with a harder compound tyre while the suspension was a little too hard.
Fourth placed Roy White (Ford Fiesta WRC) was 19.4 seconds off top spot and remarked that he had a major moment on the third stage when his Fiesta WRC went sideways into a hedge, luckily, it was unscathed. He added he was a trifle too cautious on the opening pair of stages.
Cathan McCourt (Subaru WRC) had a slipping clutch and opted not to use the launch control for the second stage. Hugh Hunter (Ford Focus WRC) was sixth and while Kevin Eves (Toyota Corolla) was seventh and led the two-wheel drive category, he withdrew at the service park as he was concerned about an oil problem.
Stephen Wright (Fiesta R5), Mel Evans (Skoda Fabia R5) and Donegal’s Paul Reid (Ford Escort) rounded out the top ten. In Group N, Tyrone’s Niall Devine (Mitsubishi) was untroubled and led the similar car of Michael Boyle by 10.8 seconds, the latter admitted he made a cautious start and his tyre selection was incorrect.
Out on the second loop of stages Boyle, having softened the suspension and picking a harder tyre, set the best times on all three stages to share second with Kelly and close to within four seconds of Moffett, who opined that he had no great rhythm, particularly on S.S. 6, the longest of the three stages. Kelly had a clutch problem.
Meanwhile, Roy White was 26.1 seconds further behind in fourth and had a simple answer as to why he wasn’t closer, “I’m not brave enough.” Cathan McCourt had an altercation with a chicane on S.S. 4, he was fifth followed by Welsh duo Hugh Hunter (Ford Focus WRC) and Melvyn Evans (Skoda Fabia R5). Stephen Wright was pleased with the increase of his pace through the repeat loop as the final places in the top ten were annexed by Steve Wood, debuting the ex-Daragh O’Riordan right hand drive Ford Fiesta WRC and leader of the two-wheel drive category Donegal’s Paul Reid, who lost time on S.S. 6 with a broken exhaust just a kilometre into the stage.
In Group N, Niall Devine (Mitsubishi) continued to lead as Wexford’s Tomas O’Rourke (Mitsubishi) slotted into second – 11.2 seconds behind and 2.8 seconds ahead of Michael Boyle.
Kelly’s rally ended on Stage seven when the throttle spring broke and jammed open forcing his retirement. Moffett went on to claim his third win of the campaign, he also won the Power Stage. White, McCourt, Hunter and Wright completed the top six.
Donegal’s Paul Reid (Ford Escort) took the two-wheel drive category. In Group N, Tyrone’s Niall Devine (Mitsubishi) took the spoils with Donegal’s Michael Boyle edging out Wexford’s Tomas O’Rourke on the final stage to claim runner-up.
Derry’s Jordan Hone (Opel Adam R2) and his Cork co-driver Aileen Kelly were emphatic winners of the Junior category while the Cork/Galway duo of Luke McCarthy/David Hogan (Ford Escort) won the Historic category.
Non-starters included Peadar Hurson (Ford Fiesta WRC), Ian Barrett (Subaru WRC) and Seamus Leonard (Ford Focus WRC).
1. Josh Moffett/Andy Hayes (Ford Fiesta WRC) 56m. 21.4s
2. Declan Boyle/Brian Boyle (Ford Fiesta WRC) 56m. 42.5s
3. Roy White/James O'Brien (Ford Fiesta WRC) 57m. 06.7s.
4. Cathan McCourt/Barry McNulty (Subaru WRC) 58m. 44.7s.
5. Hugh Hunter/Rob Fagg (Ford Focus WRC) 59m. 39.9s.
6. Stephen Wright/Liam Moynihan (Ford Fiesta R5) 59m. 51.0s.
7. Melvyn Evans/Mark Glennerster (Skoda Fabia R5) 1h. 00m. 06.2s
8. Steve Wood/Keith Moriarty (Ford Fiesta WRC) 1h. 00m. 49.8s.
9. Paul Reid/Karl Reid (Ford Escort) 1h. 01m. 19.1s.
10. Niall Devine/Mac Kierans (Mitsubishi EvoIX) 1h. 01m. 22.6s.
TRITON SHOWERS NRC STANDINGS AFTER ROUND 4:
1. J. Moffett 80pts; 2. R. White 68pts; 3. D. Boyle 51pts.