Sam Moffett, Roy White, Declan Boyle, Josh Moffett, Peadar Hurson, Niall Maguire and Kevin Barrett Picture: Martin Walsh
The Admore Air Conditioning Corp Midland Moto Stages Rally in Longford will feature a strong entry including reigning and several former national rally champions for Sunday’s nine stage rally that is hosted by the Midland Motor Club with Jeremy O’Connor as clerk of the course.
The acquisition of a new title sponsor is a great boost to the organising Midland Motor Club and has come through the association with long time club supporter Paul Rowley, who heads the New York based company.
Paul is originally from Killoe but has lived in New York for the last thirty three years. He is a regular competitor in Irish rallying and first competed in the Midland Moto Stages Rally back in 1985.
On Sunday’s nine stage encounter, Paul will campaign a PCRS run Ford Fiesta R5. His reason for underpinning the rally is based in recognition of all the volunteers that run the club and the marshals that give of their time to ensure that rallying continues.
The Longford Arms Hotel, headquarters of the rally, are also suporting the event.
Aside from the national context, there are a number of Longford drivers competing including Drumlish duo Pakie Duffy (Honda Civic) and Stephen Faughnan (Escort), Longford town driver Sam Johnston (Honda Civic), Lanesborough’s Stephen Healy (Toyota Corolla) and Newtownforbes driver James Reilly, also in a Toyota Corolla while Ronan Quinn from Moydow competes in a Ford Escort.
Two years ago Sam Moffett won the event and went on to claim the Triton series and the Vard Memorial Trophy, however, the Monaghan driver is not contesting the nine stage rally on this occasion.
However, the Moffett family will still be ably represented as his younger brother Josh, a winner of the opening Triton round in Abbeyleix is on the entry. He will be seeking to follow in the footsteps of his brother and win the Triton series for the very first time. Josh has won the Irish Tarmac Championship and the Irish Forest series but so far, the Triton National series has eluded him.
The entry features all the major national championship contenders including triple national champion Donegal’s Declan Boyle (Ford Fiesta WRC), who was second on the opening round in Abbeyleix.
Boyle won the Power Stage in Abbeyleix to gain an additional championship point and will begin this rally in Longford just a point behind Josh Moffett.
Another former champion Clonmel’s Roy White, also in a Ford Fiesta WRC, recovered to finished third on the opening round, two years ago on this event, he was runner-up to Sam Moffett. White will need to stay pace with his rivals as he chases that elusive victory on a round of the national series.
It is hard to believe that is it some 27 years since Warrenpoint’s Peadar Hurson won the national series, he remains ultra competitive and has won many events in the intervening years and remains a threat in his Fiesta WRC.
The list of past national champions continues with popular Monaghan driver Niall Maguire (Subaru WRC), the first to win three titles, also on the Midland entry. He remains a great supporter of national rallying and in this year’s opening round in Abbeyleix came home seventh overall.
Donegal’s Joe McGonigle (Mini WRC) is also contesting the event along with Tyrone’s Frank Wray (Subaru WRC), Maynooth’s Frank Barrett and Tyrone’s Declan McCrory.
In the Motorsport Safety Team Group N category, former champion Monaghan’s Shane Maguire (Mitsubishi EvoIX) will have Donegal’s Michael Boyle (Mitsubishi EvoIX) and Trevor Bustard (Mitsubishi EvoIX) and Dubliner Neil Tohill (Mitsubishi EvoX) as opposition along with Wexford’s Tomas O'Rourke (Mitsubishi EvoIX) and the similar cars of Carrick on Shannon’s Sean Gallagher and Shane O’Rourke, who will be aiming to claim local honours.
The hotly contested Class 14 should feature great action with the likes of Maynooth’s Ian Barrett (Darrian T90 GTR), Derry’s Camillus Bradley (Ford Escort), Cavan’s Gary McPhillips (Ford Escort) Wexford’s James Stafford (Darrian T9), Donegal’s Kevin Eves (Toyota Corolla) and Cavan’s Chris Armstrong (Ford Escort) all capable of class success and a top ten finish.
In addition to the Triton series, the rally is also counting rounds of the Sligo Pallets Border Rally Championship and Hugo Loonam Motors Midlands East Rally Championship.
Prior to the event, mechanical scrutiny take place this Saturday evening from 2pm until 7.30pm at Mastertech Business Park, Athlone Road, Longford. On Sunday, the first car away from parc ferme at the Old Army Barracks, Longford is at 9.10am with the finish ramp celebrations at Main Street, adjacent to the Longford Arms Hotel at 5pm.