Derry-Kerry crew win Midland Moto Rally – the opening round of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship
Callum Devine and Noel O’Sullivan took a start-to-finish win in the Ardmore Air Conditioning Longford Arms Hotel Midland Moto Rally on Sunday – the opening round of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship. It was the Volkswagen Polo GTI crew's second victory together after taking their maiden victory on the Rally of the Lakes last May.
After an unseasonably dry morning, the rain landed for the final loop of three stages near Longford town. Devine and O’Sullivan exerted their authority on the event over the damp roads. A ten-second victory over Oghill gave them a 15.1-second lead with two stages to run. The Derry/Kerry pairing was fastest again over the even wetter Kilmoyle stage and extended their lead to 18.2 seconds.
They cruised through the final Bawn stage to take a 10.7-second victory over former British Rally Champion Matt Edwards. The Welsh victory and his Cork co-driver David Moynihan who driving Keith Lyons Ford Fiesta Rally 2 enjoyed a rally-long battle with Josh Moffett. Edwards lost time over the morning loop when the Fiesta developed a boost valve issue but they arrives at the first service halt in third place.
Despite admitting he was more than a little rusty after an eight-month lay Welsh driver kept the pressure on over the remaining six stages. Such was the intensity of the battle they tied for second place with defending champion Moffett and co-driver Andy Hayes Hyundai i20 Rally 2 after six-stage.
Moffet admitted to a few hairy moments, especially in the middle loop, as he tried, unsuccessfully, to stave off the Edwards challenge but takes bonus points into round two after winning the PowerStage.
Darren Gass and Barry McNulty in their Citroen C3 Rally 2 spun on the first hairpin on stage one and stalled on the start line of stage six but they were able to hold off of Sam Moffatt and Keith Moriarty in their newer version of the Hyundai 20 Rally 2 to take fourth place. With Edwards not registered Gass and McNulty scored third-placed points in the Triton Showers Championship.
Gary Kiernan and his new co-driver John McCabe won the Modified Section of the rally in their Ford Escort. They enjoyed a rally-long battle with Galway International Rally modified winners Mark Alcorn and Domhnall McAleney, but the Cavan crew were able to get the upper hand over the wetter roads towards the end of the rally.
Declan Boyle and codriver Patrick Walsh finished seventh in their Volkswagen Polo RC2. It was a busy weekend for the Welsh co-driver. On Saturday he contested the opening round of the Scottish Rally Championship – the Snowman Rally – in Inverness, in the Northern most reaches of Scotland. After finishing tenth alongside Fredie Milne, he made a late evening dash to Glasgow Airport before arriving in Dublin around midnight and a late-night drive to Longford town.
Fresh from their adventures in France the weekend before Daniel Barry and Lorcan Moore were eighth in their Skoda Fabia. The crew may have relied too much on their French knowledge early in the rally as they found the car too low to the ground but a change in settings at the midday service improved their performance.
Alcorn and McAleney finished ninth ahead of Kirkistown Rally winners Stephen Wright and Ger Conway in their Ford Fiesta RC2.
Wright felt his driving was “scrappy” in the morning.
Daniel Cronin and Donnchadh Burke finished 11th in their Volkswagen Polo RC2. The West Cork was at odds with his stage times and felt his effort was not being rewarded by the stopwatch.
Jason Mitchell and Paddy McCrudden were running 12th in their similar Volkswagen but crashed out on the final test. This promoted the Darrian T90 of Kevin Gallagher and Ryan Moore to 12th place overall but more importantly, the Donegal crew finished third in the Modified category.
Local hero Tommy Doyle and his Cork co-driver Liam Moynihan lost several minutes after getting stuck in a stage one ditch. Although he finished– well down the order – it was a bitter disappointment for Doyle who was contesting his first rally in five years and sampling Hyundai I20 R5 power for the first time.
New York-based Paul Rowley (and his Kerry co-driver Brian Doherty)was the highest-placed Midland Motor Club member in his Ford Fiesta RC2.
London Irish Motor Club crew Paul McDevitt and Ray Fitzpatrick won the historic rally in their Belga-liveried Ford Escort Mk2. It has been a long time since the London-based Donegal man tackled an Irish national rally after spending recent years competing in Belgium.
Monaghan’s Jack McKenna and Damien Doherty got the better of defending Triton Showers National Junior Champions Joe Browen and Tommy Cuddihy to win the junior rally - both driving Honda Civics.
Next up is the Tralee-based Rose Hotel Circuit of Kerry in Tralee on April 2.