The FAAC Simply automatic/Sligo Park Hotel Rally, round six of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship that takes place on Sunday is set to play a key role in the destiny of the Vard Memorial Trophy. The title now rests between Monaghan’s Josh Moffett and Clonmel’s Roy White, both in Ford Fiesta WRC’s.
Top seed Moffett needs two-second place finishes from the remaining three rounds of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship to join his older brother Sam as a winner of all three major Irish Rally Championships.
Ahead of this round in Sligo, Josh has garnered 100 from a possible 105 points so far and the younger of the Moffett siblings can edge closer to winning the Vard Memorial Trophy in Sligo.
Ironically, his home event in Monaghan was the only Triton round he didn’t win this season - he seemed set for victory until a puncture on the sixth of the nine stages saw him finish a close second to Donagh Kelly (Ford Focus WRC) – Josh still rates that as his toughest event of the national series thus far.
This year’s series is based on the best seven from eight events with a few additional points for the final two events – one extra for Galway and two for Fastnet (Bantry). Moffett’s plan for Sligo is straightforward. “I will go at my usual pace and try and win the event.” His brother Sam won the Irish Forest, National and Tarmac championships in 2017 (clinching the Triton series in Sligo) and while Josh won his first National forest title in 2015 and again last year when he also won the Tarmac last year, the Triton title remains elusive. Last year he came close to a season’s treble but the clash of the Easter Rally and the Circuit of Kerry on the same weekend forced him to skip the latter and that probably cost him the national title that was won by Declan Boyle.
Title rival White knows that it (the championship) is Moffett’s to lose but he will continue with his own quest, in 2016 a consistent run netted him the series even though he didn’t win any individual round - a statistic that still remains.
The Sligo top ten is somewhat different to previous years, Belfast’s Jonny Greer (Ford Fiesta R5) will use the nine stage rally as a shakedown for next month’s Today’s Ulster Rally, the next round of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship.
Another Tarmac regular Cork’s Daniel Cronin (Ford Fiesta R5) makes his first outing since the Rally of the Lakes last May and it will be interesting to see how he performs in this part of the country, he is a former winner of the Clare Rally, the Raven’s Rock Rally and his home event, the Fastnet Rally in Bantry - all when they were on the opt out year from the Triton series.
Former Tarmac champion Antrim’s Derek McGarrity (Ford Fiesta WRC) is also in Ulster Rally shakedown mode while Tyrone’s Frank Wray (Subaru WRC) completes the top sextet.
Meanwhile, Donegal’s Kevin Eves (Toyota Corolla), who is seeded at seven, is in a strong position to win the rally.ie two-wheel drive award within the Triton series and a strong top ten finish in Sligo will certainly bolster his position.
The entry also features Armagh’s Damian Toner (Ford Escort), who won last week’s Rainbow Communications Loughgall Country Park Rally in Armagh for a fifth successive year.
Donegal duo J. F Shovelin (Ford Escort) and Johnny Jordan (Toyota Starlet) round out the top ten.
Shovelin, seventh overall in last year’s rally, has a sizeable advantage in the Triton Mk.2 Ford Escort Trophy category with Cavan’s Tim Flood some 36 points behind – Shovelin leads Class 14 where is five points ahead of Eves.
Jordan was one of the stars of last year’s Sligo Rally finishing an impressive third overall.
Meanwhile, in the Motorsport Safety Team Group N category, Monaghan’s Shane Maguire (Mitsubishi) and Tyrone’s Niall Devine, both in Mitsubishi Evo IX’s, are involved in a fascinating battle for championship success with Maguire just a point ahead with three events remaining. In Sligo, they will have Carrick-on-Shannon’s Sean Gallagher and Boyle’s Colin Flanagan, in similar cars, as event opposition.
Aside from the national context, the event also counts towards the regional Sligo Pallets Border Championship and the Top Part West Coast Rally Championship.
Several members of the Phelan family are taking part, the family are co-sponsors of the rally through their company FAAC Simply automatic. Ciaran, Cormac and Aine will all drive Honda Civics, albeit in different classes.
Meanwhile, local drivers seeking to impress are Ballinafull’s Jason Currid and Patrick Herity, both in Escorts, Drumkerrin’s Colin O’Rourke (Fiesta WRC) and Keelan Grogan (Skoda Fabia R2), Grange duo Colin Curry (Escort) and John Warren (Toyota Corolla), Cloonacool’s Art McCarrick (Ford Fiesta R2), Rosses Point pair Dominic McLaughlin (Peugeot 205) and Paul McLaughlin (Sunbeam), Riverstown’s Martin Ewing (Peugeot 205) and Keith Ewing (Honda Civic), Ballymote’s Alan Quinn (Opel Manta 400) and David Quinn (BMW).
Rally organisers under the stewardship of clerk of the course Robert Lyttle have selected three stages - Glencar, Meenymore and Lough Gill - each of which will be repeated three times. The first stage begins at 11.39am. The service park is at the Sligo Institute of Technology with the finish at the Sligo Park Hotel Sligo at 5.08pm.
PROVISIONAL TOP TEN:
1. Josh Moffett/Andy Hayes (Fiesta WRC)
2. Roy White/James O'Brien (Fiesta WRC)
3. Jonny Greer/Kirsty Riddick (Ford Fiesta R5)
4. Daniel Cronin/JJ Cremin (Ford Fiesta R5)
5. Derek McGarrity/TBA (Ford Fiesta WRC)
6. Frank Wray/Joe McNulty (Subaru WRC)
7. K. Eves/C. Melly (Toyota Corolla)
8. D. Toner/Denver Rafferty (Ford Escort).
9. J. F Shovelin/Emmet Brosnan (Ford Escort)
10. Johnny Jordan/Paddy McCrudden (Toyota Starlet).
TIMES & PLACES:
First Car Away: Sligo Retail Park, Carroroe, Sligo. 9.45
S.S. 1,4 & 7: Glencar (19.78Km) 10.27,12.53 & 15.19.
S.S. 2, 5 & 8: Meenymore (10.27Km) 11.09, 13.35 & 16.01
S.S. 3,6 & 9: Lough Gill (9.89Km) 11.39, 14.05 & 16.31.
Service: Sligo Institute of Technology. 10.00, 12.11 & 14.37
Finish Ramp: Sligo Park Hotel Sligo 17.08.
TRITON SHOWERS NRC STANDINGS AFTER ROUND 5:
1. J. Moffett 100 pts; 2. R. White 85pts; 3. D. Boyle 51pts; 4. P. Hurson 40pts; 5. J. McGonigle 35pts; 6. K. Eves 31pts; 7. S. Maguire 27pts; =8. N. Devine & S. Moffett 26pts; 10. J. Stafford 25pts.
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