Dominating throughout Monaghan’s Josh Moffett (Ford Fiesta WRC) and his Wexford co-driver Andy Hayes took a start to finish victory in the Abbeyleix Manor Hotel Rally, the opening round of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship.
At the conclusion of the nine-stage rally, they finished 26.3 seconds ahead of the 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 57.9 seconds further behind in third.
The Motorsport Safety Team Group N category was won by Donegal’s Michael Boyle and co-driver Dermot McCafferty (Mitsubishi).
In slippery Josh Moffett (Ford Fiesta WRC) led Boyle by 2.6 seconds on the first stage with former champion Warrenpoint’s Peadar Hurson (Ford Fiesta WRC) 11.1 seconds further behind in third.
By the completion of the opening loop of three stages that included a fog shrouded third stage, Moffett was 27.2 seconds ahead of Boyle with Hurson and Roy White (Fiesta WRC) next in classification.
On the repeat loop of stages there was little change at the top as Moffett did enough to retain his lead role and although S.S. 6 was cancelled due to heavy fog, Moffett had a 26.3 second lead at the final service in Donaghmore. White displaced Hurson in the chase for third.
There was little change in the final three stages as Josh Moffett (Fiesta WRC) made a great start to try and win the Vard Memorial Trophy for the very first time.
Boyle won the Power Stage and White, seventh after the opening stage, was pleased with his third place finish.
Hurson, on what was essentially his first rally in some eighteen months (with the exception of a brief outing in Cavan) netted fourth just 1.4 seconds further behind. Scotland’s David Bogie (Skoda Fabia R5) and Monaghan’s Sam Moffett (Ford Fiesta R5) rounded out the top six, the latter had a burst shock absorber for the opening loop.
Niall Maguire (Subaru WRC) was next in classification.
Wexford’s James Stafford (Darrian) won the two-wheel drive category and finished eighth in a top ten completed by Donegal duo Joe McGonigle (Mini WRC) and Kevin Eves (Toyota Corolla).
Donegal’s Michael Boyle (Mitsubishi) won Group N and victory in the Junior category went to Michael Hamilton/Shane Byrne (Honda Civic).