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Kelly lines up a double as rallying is back with a bang

 

By Sammy Hamill

Easter has traditionally been an important period for Irish rallying but not this year. With the cancellation of the Circuit of Ireland and the Circuit Challenge it was a virtually blank weekend save for the Spring Fling Targa Rally which was won by Christopher Evans and Kevin Fagan in their Mazda MX5.

But that all changes this week with the Lark in the Park in Londonderry on Saturday and the third round of the Irish National Championship in Monaghan on Sunday.

And former Irish Tarmac champion Donagh Kelly appears to be keen to get back on the road - he's listed to do both events in his M-Sport Ford Focus.

Local man Joe McGonigle, the winner last year, heads the 60-strong Park entry list in his R5 Skoda Fabia but he has the powerful WRC Ford of Kelly lining up behind him as well as the Subaru of Frank Wray and top Escort drivers like Adrian Hetherington and Wesley Patterson.

The Maiden City event maintains its recent cross-border format with three spectator-friendly stages through St Columb's Park in Derry and three runs over a closed road stage at Grannian in Donegal. It starts at 9.30am.

Afterwards Kelly plans to head south for the Monaghan Stages to resume his challenge for the Triton Showers Irish national title he won in 2015. But this is home territory for the Clontibret Moffett brothers, Sam and Josh, who have dominated the rally since 2013.

They have won four times in a row, Sam in 2013 and '14, Josh in 2015 and '16, and are seeded one and two in Sunday's starting list.

Elder brother Sam leads the national series after back-to-back wins in Nenagh and Longford in his WRC Ford Fiesta while Josh sticks to his R5 Fiesta in a line-up which also includes the WRC Fiestas of current and past champions Roy White, Declan Boyle and Peadar Hurson as well as Kelly in his Focus.

Based at the Four Seasons Hotel in Monaghan town, it starts at 9.30am.

Belfast Telegraph

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