Leading from the start Monaghan’s Sam Moffett and his Cork co-driver Karl Atkinson (Ford Fiesta WRC) took a commanding victory in the Midland Moto Rally in Longford, the second round of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship.
They finished a minute and 9.9 seconds ahead of the Ford Fiesta WRC of reigning champions Clonmel’s Roy White and his Cork co-driver James O’Brien. Donegal’s, Manus Kelly/Gareth Doherty (Subaru WRC) were 21.1 seconds further behind in third.
Tyrone’s Adrian Hetherington (Escort) and his co-driver Andrew Greenan won the Modified section – 55.9 seconds ahead of Donegal’s Brian Brogan and his co-driver Damien McGettigan, also in a Ford Escort.
The Motorsport Safety Group N category was won by Cork’s David Guest (Mitsubishi) and his Donegal co-driver Paddy Robinson.
Monaghan’s Jonny Treanor/Adrian Foley (Honda Civic) won the Junior category.
The event organised by the Midland Motor Club under the stewardship of Clerk of the Course Sean Cahill was well organised and provided a welcome financial boost to the local economy.
Fastest times on all three stages of the opening loop close to Longford town propelled Moffett into a 33.5 second lead over the similar Fiesta WRC of Declan Boyle, who spun on the second stage and lost a few seconds towards the end of the third stage when his tyres lacked grip.
Manus Kelly occupied third – he lost time on the opening stage when his Subaru clipped a chicane bale denting the driver’s door, he also spun on the third stage. Meanwhile, defending Triton Showers National champion Roy White (Fiesta WRC) was just 0.7 of a second further behind in fourth.
Monaghan’s Niall Maguire (Subaru WRC) in fifth opted for a tyre compound that proved to be too soft, particularly on the third stage - the longest of the loop.
Maynooth’s Ian Barrett took full advantage of the dry conditions, on board his Darrian T90 he was sixth in classification and leader of the Modified category – 1.3 seconds ahead of the Escort of Adrian Hetherington. Barrett lost time on S.S. 2 when he spun and stalled the Darrian, a soft compound tyre didn’t work on the third stage. The top ten was completed by the Escorts of Pat Donegan and Brian Brogan and the Honda Civic of reigning Triton Showers Junior champion Gary McNamee, who lost time on the third stage due to problems with the downshift. Donegan opined that was out-braking himself on a number of occasions as he tried to adjust the brake bias. Brogan punctured towards the end of the opening stage. Killarney’s Ed Murphy retired his Escort on the third stage with engine related issues.
There was a terrific battle in Group N where former champion Dubliner Neil Tohill (Mitsubishi) led Carrick on Shannon’s Sean Gallagher (Mitsubishi) by 4.1 seconds, both were untroubled. Current series leader, Cork driver David Guest, also in a Mitsubishi, was 6.2 seconds further behind – he admitted to an incorrect tyre choice. Both Paul Barrett (Subaru) and Shane Maguire (Mitsubishi) tied for fourth.
Continuing his dominance and despite easing his earlier pace, Moffett stretched his lead to 42.9 seconds following the repeat loop of stages. Second placed Boyle spun on stages four and six and dropped some ten seconds. Kelly 6.7 seconds further behind in third stated he was comfortable with his pace. Having fitted a harder compound tyre Maguire in fourth reckoned his performance improved.
Having changed the rear tyres to a harder compound Ian Barrett consolidated his lead role in the Modified section where Hetherington was eleven seconds in arrears after he spun and dropped time on S.S. 5.
The top ten also featured Brian Brogan, Gary McNamee and John Stone (Fiesta).
McNamee adjusted the linkage that seemed to cure the earlier transmission problem. Keenagh’s Tommy Doyle (Escort) retired on S.S. 4 with engine related issues.
In Group N David Guest took up the lead position – just 2.5 seconds from Neil Tohill. On Stage 6, one of their rivals, Sean Gallagher hit a chicane head on and that ended a fine drive. Elsewhere, Shane Maguire and Paul Barrett were third and fourth respectively.
As Moffett swept to a convincing victory, there were a number of retirements over the final loop. Boyle crashed out on S.S. 7 when his Fiesta WRC hit a chicane and ended up in a field.
That promoted Kelly into second but he spun on the penultimate stage and dropped to third allowing White to annex second. Meanwhile, on S.S. 8, Ian Barrett retired his Darrian with engine woes.
Maguire was fourth as Hetherington, who hit a chicane on S.S. 8, claimed top spot in the Modified category. Brian Brogan (Escort) was second.
Meanwhile, Oldcastle’s Gary McNamee, who had one of the drives of the rally en-route to seventh overall also won the Triton Showers Drive of the Day award, he was co-driven by Dean O’Sullivan.
David Guest took a final stage win in the Motorsport Safety Group N category beating Tohill to win the category by 4.3 seconds, they were eighth and ninth respectively as Tyrone’s Barry Morris (Escort) completed the top ten.
Midland Moto Rally (Round 2, Triton Showers National Rally championship) Longford:
1. S. Moffett/K. Atkinson (Ford Fiesta WRC) 58m. 05.1s;
2. R. White/J. O'Brien (Ford Fiesta WRC) 59m. 15.0s;
3. M. Kelly/G. Doherty (Subaru S12B) 59m. 36.1s;
4. N. Maguire/E. Sherry (Subaru S12B) 1h. 00m. 20.4s;
5. A. Hetherington/A. Grennan (Ford Escort) 1h. 02m. 00.0s;
6. B. Brogan/D. McGettigan (Ford Escort) 1h. 02m. 55.9s;
7. G. McNamee/D. O'Sullivan (Honda Civic) 1h. 03m. 41.2s;
8. D. Guest/P. Robinson (Mitsubishi EvoIX) 1h. 04m. 07.8s;
9. N. Tohill/G. Tohill (Mitsubishi EvoIX) 1h. 04m. 12.1s;
10. B. Morris/D. Campbell (Ford Escort) 1h. 04m. 47.9s.
Provisional Championship Positions after Round 2:
1. S. Moffett 41pts; 2. R. White 32pts N. Maguire 26 pts.
1. J. Treanor/A. Foley (Honda Civic) 43m. 03.0s;
2. M. Boyle/D. McCafferty (Honda Civic) 44m. 27.5s;
3. J. Black/J. McKenna (Toyota Starlet) 46m. 17.7s.