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TRITON TITLE AWAITS

Preview courtesy of Triton Showers
Proud sponsors of the Irish National Rally Championship.
 
Following a long hot summer the temperatures remain high for the Triton Showers National Rally Championship, the outcome of which will be decided on the Jackson’s Hotel Donegal Harvest Rally, the seventh and final round of the series on Saturday next.

The Triton Trio
After an eventful season three drivers - current series leader Donegal’s Declan Boyle (Ford Fiesta WRC), Monaghan’s Josh Moffett (Ford Fiesta WRC) and Donegal’s Joe McGonigle (Mini WRC) are vying to reap the rewards and claim the prestigious Vard Memorial Trophy.

Boyle, a champion in 2013 and 2014 is favourite to claim his third title and join Monaghan’s Niall Maguire, currently, the only triple national rally winner. Lettermacaward driver Boyle leads both Moffett and McGonigle by twelve points and even if either of his rivals were to win (finish as the top Triton registered competitors 20 points) and also claim the single bonus point from the Power Stage, a top eight (ten points) championship finish will still be enough for Boyle to claim the title.

On last month’s Sligo Rally, both Boyle and Moffett spurned opportunities to close in on the title, remarkably, both crashed out within a stage of each other leaving McGonigle take the maximum points and the lead of the seven round series.

In the last round in Clare where McGonigle was a non-starter, Moffett took victory while Boyle finished fifth (fourth in terms of the series and annexed fourteen points) to move into the lead of the championship.

It certainly was an unusual event for Boyle with the Sligo incident playing on his mind.  “Clare was one of the toughest rallies, I was trying not to make any mistakes and I was very slow at the start.  We (with co-driver James O’Reilly) made our pacenotes with just a finish in mind, particularly after the silly off in Sligo.  On the second and third loops we picked up the pace and got the points we required.”

How Boyle adapts will be key but there is no doubt that he will have learned from the experience in Clare. 
Meanwhile, Moffett is bidding to clinch his inaugural Triton Showers title as he tries to emulate his older brother Sam, who won the series last year and also won Irish Tarmac and Forest titles, the first driver to achieve the feat in the same season.  Unlike his rivals, Moffett’s points tally is from five events as he missed out on the Circuit of Kerry earlier in the season.  Although McGonigle has been very consistent, he needs both drivers to hit trouble to secure the title.
 
The organising Donegal Motor Club has attracted a capacity entry of 140 crews with over 40 more on reserve and 16 entries in the Junior category – certainly, the biggest of the season.  Donegal’s Donagh Kelly, a former Triton champion is the top seed in his Ford Focus WRC.  This will be his first outing in the car since he crashed out of the lead of the Donegal International Rally last June, having contested the earlier rounds of the Triton campaign that included victory in the Circuit of Kerry, Kelly is eligible to score championship points in Donegal.  Josh Moffett, Sam Moffett, Boyle and McGonigle are next on the seeded list.
 
Monaghan’s Barry McKenna will drive the Ford Fiesta R5+ he campaigned in this season’s National Forest Championship and it will be interesting - given how quick he was on gravel surface - to see if he can match the pace of the top seeds.

Billy Coleman award winner Derry’s Callum Devine (Ford Fiesta R5) is another stellar entry along with former Irish Tarmac champion Gareth MacHale (Ford Fiesta R5), the Dubliner made a return to rallying after a lapse of over six years on the last Triton round in Clare where he finished eighth overall.  The Donegal top ten is completed by Tyrone’s Frank Wray (Subaru WRC) and the Ford Escort of Scotland’s David Bogie (Ford Escort).

Another title down for decision in Donegal is the rally.ie award (highest placed two-wheel drive competitor in overall standings.  That award rests between Donegal’s Stuart Darcy (Darrian T90) and Cavan’s Chris Armstrong (Ford Escort) with the former leading by four points.  Over the last two rounds Armstrong has gained 15 points on his rival to set up the title decider in Ballybofey.

The Modified category has a splendid entry and aside from the aforementioned pair it also features Donegal duo Kevin Eves (Toyota Corolla) and Declan Gallagher (Toyota Starlet) and the Escorts of Gary Kiernan, Jonathan Pringle, Gary McPhillips, Damian Tourish, Damien Toner, Brian Brogan, Wesley Patterson and John Bonner.
 
A number of Donegal drivers are also involved in the quest for class honours within the Triton series.  In Class 4, Trevor Bustard (Mitsubishi EvoIX) holds the edge over Tyrone’s Aidan Wray while in Class 13, Johnny Jordan (Toyota Starlet) and Daniel Conaghan (Ford Escort) are separated by four points in favour of the latter.  Darcy has a five-point lead over Cavan’s Chris Armstrong in Class 14.

Former national rally champion in 2000 - Donegal’s Paul Harris will co-drive for Donall Barrett (Ford Escort), they are seed at 100.
 
EVENT DETAILS:
 
Organising Club: Donegal Motor Club
Clerk of the Course: Sam Pearson.
Rally Headquarters: Jackson’s Hotel, Ballybofey. Tel: 074 9131021.
 
First Car Away: 09. 15.
 
S.S. 1, 4 & 7: Meenreagh (15.97km) 10.00, 12.35 & 15.00.
S.S. 2, 5 & 8: Alt (11.85km) 10.44, 13.19 & 16.04.
S.S. 3, 6 & 9: Carnowen Hill (11.70km) 11.18, 13.53 & 16.38. 
 
Service: Stranorlar Mart, Railway Road, Stranorlar: 9.20, 11.48 & 14.23
Finish Ramp: Jackson’s Hotel, Ballybofey. 17.08.
 
Top 10 Starters:
 
1 Donagh Kelly/Conor Foley (Ford Focus WRC)  
2 Josh Moffett/Keith Moriarty (Ford Fiesta WRC+)  
3 Sam Moffett/Karl Atkinson (Ford Fiesta R5)
4 Declan Boyle/James O'Reilly (Ford Fiesta WRC+)  
5 Joseph McGonigle/Ciaran Geaney (Mini WRC+)
6 Barry McKenna/Leon Jordan (Ford Fiesta R5+)  
7 Callum Devine/Brian Hoy (Ford Fiesta R5)
8 Gareth MacHale/Brian Murphy (Ford Fiesta R5)  
9 Frank Wray/Joe McNulty (Subaru Impreza WRC)  
10 David Bogie/John Rowan (Ford Escort)  
 
Triton Showers National Rally Championship (Provisional Positions after Round 6):
1. D. Boyle 91pts; =2. J. Moffett & J. McGonigle 79pts; 4. R. White 61pts; 5. S. Darcy 57pts; 6. C. Armstrong 53pts; 7. K Barrett 45pts; =8. D. Kelly & D. O’Riordan 42pts; 10. J. Jordan 39pts.
 
2018 Triton Showers National Rally Championship Diary Dates:
 
1. Mayo Rally: Declan Boyle/James O'Reilly (Ford Fiesta WRC)   
2. Circuit of Kerry Rally: Donagh Kelly/Conor Foley (Ford Focus WRC)
3. Cavan Rally: Josh Moffett/Keith Moriarty (Ford Fiesta WRC)
4. Tipperary Stonethrowers Rally:  Josh Moffett/Keith Moriarty (Ford Fiesta WRC)
5. Sligo Rally: Sam Moffett/Noel O’Sullivan (Ford Fiesta R5)         
6. Clare Rally: Josh Moffett/Keith Moriarty (Ford Fiesta WRC)
7. Donegal Harvest Rally (October 13)     

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