Moving into the lead on the penultimate stage, the Monaghan/Limerick duo of Sam Moffett/Keith Moriarty (Ford Fiesta R5 Mk II) went on to win the Neil Howard Memorial Rally, the opening round of the British Rally Championship at Oulton Park on Monday. They finished a second ahead of the similar car of Rhys Yates/James Morgan with Osian Pryce/Noel O’Sullivan (VW Polo R5) a further seven seconds behind in third. A mere two seconds covered the top four after the morning’s seven-mile stage as Frank Bird topped the time sheets, two seconds clear of defending champion Matt Edwards, Rhys Yates and Pryce. Moffett was next and headed the Irish challenge — seven seconds off the lead. Several competitors got a notional time when Nigel Worswick’s Ford Fiesta S2000T blocked the stage. There was little between the leading contenders through the next three stages as Bird maintained a slender lead. By S.S. 4, he was six seconds ahead of Yates and Edwards, who shared second. Pryce and Moffett followed, the latter was much closer to the leader on S.S. 5 and posted the best stage time on S.S. 6. It was even better for the Monaghan man as Bird spun and Edwards incurred a 10-second penalty for failing to slow after the flying finish board. Yates became the new rally leader with Moffett only a second behind as Pryce, Bird and Edwards completed the top five. On the penultimate stage, Moffett edged two seconds ahead of Yates with Bird and Pryce still very much in contention, the latter just seven seconds behind Moffett. Edwards and Desi Henry rounded out the top six. On the final stage, Moffett did enough to claim the spoils.
It was a new car for the Combi lift backed driver and speaking on the British Rally championship social media channels after the victory, Sam was unable to disguise his disbelief at taking the win
There was also Irish success in the Junior category won by William Creighton/Liam Regan (Ford Fiesta) ahead of Kylie White and Sean Topping and Eamon Kelly with Monaghan navigator Conor Mohan in 3rd.
The next round of the British Rally championship is the Nicky Grist stages on July 10th, which will be a gravel event.