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Moffett masters Munster to make it four national wins in row

 

By Sammy Hamill

Sam Moffett's astonishing run of successes in the Irish National rally championship continued with victory in the Circuit of Munster - his fourth in a row.

Moffett, who also leads the international series, the Irish Tarmac championship, following his win on the Rally of the Lakes, came out on top in his WRC Ford Fiesta after a fierce battle with former national champion Donagh Kelly's WRC Ford Focus.

Moffett led for the first two stages before Kelly edged in front through stages three, four and five but they were never separated by more than six seconds and over the final loop it was the Clontibret driver who pulled ahead to win by 12 seconds.

He has now won the first four rounds of the Triton Showers-sponsored series to establish a commanding lead over 2016 champion Roy White, who finished sixth, and Kelly.

Third place in the Rathkeale-based event went to the R5 Fiesta of Alastair Fisher who was preparing for the Donegal International later this month.

Manus Kelly, last year's Donegal winner, was fourth in his WRC Subaru ahead of the R5 Fiesta of reigning Tarmac champion Keith Cronin, another driver using the event as practice for the next round of the British championship, the Ypres Rally in Belgium.

Former Northern Ireland champion Connor McCloskey was the clear winner of the Severn Valley Rally, a round of the Welsh forest championship.

McCloskey and co-driver John Rown led from start to finish in their WRC Fiesta to win by 45 seconds from the Fiestas of Charlie Payne and Martyn England.

Meanwhile, Steven Kane finished in fifth place in the Blancpain European GT3 sprint round at Zolder in Belgium but the run of bad luck for the Ulster drivers in the Strakka McLaren team continued.

Andrew Watson brought the No.59 McLaren home in 11th place but it could have been so much better after he set the second fastest time in qualifying.

The Donaghmore driver also ran in second place in the qualifying race on Saturday night but suffered a stop-go penalty for a start line infringement which meant he and team-mate Rob Bell were relegated to 22nd on the grid. They made up 11 places on the tight Belgian track.

But Jonny Kane's troubles continued despite a new car, a new number and a new co-driver. He was paired with Come Ledogar but the Frenchman was involved in a collision at the start of the qualifying race and although the car was repaired overnight, Kane had to start from the back of the grid. But his race lasted only a few laps before the McLaren was retired with overheating problems.

The other Kane, Steven, and his French co-driver Vincent Abril, climbed to fifth, their Bentley Continental finishing just a handful of seconds behind the race-winning Audi of Will Stevens and Marcus Winklehock.

Chris Houston, the current champion, was the winner of Saturday's Cultra hill climb in his single-seater OMS. But on a day of mixed weather conditions his fastest time was just half-a-second quicker than the flying Maguire Mini of Roger Cage. Richard McGimpsey took third place.

Belfast Telegraph

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