Monaghan’s Josh Moffett (Ford Fiesta WRC) and his Wexford co-driver Andy Hayes took a comfortable victory in the Abbeyleix Manor Hotel Rally.
The opening round of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship. They finished 24.8 seconds in front of Ford Fiesta WRC of Donegal cousins Declan and Brian Boyle.
Clonmel’s Roy White and his Cork co-driver James O’Brien, also in a Ford Fiesta WRC were third – a minute and 18.9 seconds further behind.
The Motorsport Safety team Group N category was won by Donegal’s Michael Boyle and co-driver Dermot McCafferty (Mitsubishi).
On the opening stage near Rathdowney, Josh Moffett (Ford Fiesta WRC) took a slender 2.6 second lead over Boyle with Peadar Hurson, who won the series in 1992, 11.1 seconds further behind in third.
Moffett gained a significant advantage through the second stage (after the times were amended) and similarly through a fog shrouded third stage even though he maintained he had no great rhythm on the third stage.
Boyle 27.2 seconds behind reckoned his Fiesta WRC was too soft for the terrain. Hurson remained in third but was a further 28.5 seconds adrift and attributed his time loss to wrong tyre selection.
Roy White (Fiesta WRC) was another 8.3 seconds behind in fourth and also expressed the fact that he too had opted for a tyre compound that was far too hard.
The top six also included Scotland’s David Bogie (Skoda Fabia R5) and top two-wheel drive exponent Wexford’s James Stafford.
Having traversed the opening three stages with a burst shock absorber Sam Moffett (Ford Fiesta R5) was seventh with fellow Monaghan man Niall Maguire (Subaru WRC) next in a top ten completed by the Mini WRC of Joe McGonigle and Kevin Eves (Toyota Corolla).
Donegal’s Michael Boyle (Mitsubishi) led Group N – 16.1 seconds ahead of Monaghan’s Shane Maguire.
On the repeat loop of stages there was little change at the top as Moffett slackened his pace ever so slightly and Boyle was fractionally quicker through stages four and five and with the sixth stage cancelled due to the foggy conditions, Moffett led at the final service in Donaghmore by 26.3 seconds.
Boyle softened the suspension and had more confidence in the car while Moffett gave a measured performance.
Having changed to a softer compound tyre, White moved into third at the expense of Hurson albeit by 1.4 seconds. Bogie and Sam Moffett traded times in their own personal R5 battle to complete the top six.
Seventh placed James Stafford (Darrian) continued to lead the two-wheel drive category where Donegal’s Kevin Eves (Toyota Corolla) was his closest rival – some 43.8 seconds behind. Chris Armstrong rolled his Escort out of the rally on S.S. 4.
Meanwhile, an untroubled Niall Maguire (Subaru WRC) was eighth as Donegal’s Joe McGonigle in ninth had a few moments due to incorrect tyres. Eves completed the top ten.
In Group N, Donegal’s Michael Boyle had a clutch issue that wasn’t really costing him time but was rectified at the final service as he led the similar Mitsubishi of Niall Devine.
Monaghan’s Shane Maguire (Mitsubishi) was a distant third. Without taking any chances rally leader Moffett went on to claim the spoils with Boyle and White completing an unchanged top three.
Interestingly, Boyle won the Power Stage to claim an additional Triton Showers Championship point.
White maintained his supremacy over Hurson to secure third with the margin between the duo finishing at 14.2 seconds.
The R5 cars of David Bogie (Skoda Fabia) and Sam Moffett (Ford Fiesta) rounded out the top six. Former triple national champion Niall Maguire came home in seventh with top two wheel drive exponent James Stafford (Darrian) taking eighth overall in a top ten completed by Donegal duo Joe McGonigle (Mini WRC) and Kevin Eves (Toyota Corolla).
- Josh Moffett/Andy Hayes (Ford Fiesta WRC) 58m. 24.4s.
- Declan Boyle/Brian Boyle (Ford Fiesta WRC) 58m. 49.2s.
- Roy White/James O’Brien (Ford Fiesta WRC) 1h. 00m. 08.1s.
- Peadar Hurson/Damien Connolly (Ford Fiesta WRC) 1h. 00m. 22.3s.
- David Bogie/John Rowan (Skoda Fabia R5) 1h. 00m. 26.6s.
- Sam Moffett/James Fulton (Ford Fiesta R5) 1h. 00m. 55.8s.
- Niall Maguire/Anthony Nestor (Subaru WRC) 1h. 01m. 13.5s.
- James Stafford/Jeff Case (Darrian T90) 1h. 01m. 25.5s.
- Joseph McGonigle/Ciaran Geaney (Mini WRC) 1h. 01m. 45.7s.
- Kevin Eves/Chris Melly (Toyota Corolla) 1h. 02m. 08s.