Sam Moffett blasts into history books with Loughran Memorial Rally win
Sam Moffett warmed up for the start of the British Championship next month by winning the Loughran Memorial Rally and at the same time made a little bit of history.
His victory in his Combilift Ford Fiesta is the first in an Irish championship event by a driver in one of the newer breed of R5 cars and follows his fourth place on the Galway International.
And although Moffett took a comfortable victory, the Irish forestry championship, won last year by his brother Josh, isn't the Clontibret driver's target. The Carrick-on-Suir event was merely a first chance to test out his M-Sport Fiesta on gravel ahead of the Mid Wales Rally in March.
With Moffett unregistered, it means that runner-up Patrick O'Brien took maximum points and leads the forestry series after round one - another piece of history. From Mountfield, near Omagh, O'Brien is just 18 and is the youngest driver to top the championship standings.
And he, too, has his sights set on the British championship after being junior champion in the Irish forests last year in his little C2 Citroen, a performance which saw him make the final three candidates for Motorsport Ireland's Billy Coleman Award.
Now he has made the switch to four-wheel-drive and on his debut in his brother Frank's Mitsubishi Evo6, O'Brien finished second behind multi-Northern Ireland champion Kenny McKinstry's S14 Subaru on the Icebreaker Rally in north Antrim.
He took another step up at the weekend in an Evo9 Mitsubishi from Derek Jobb's DJ Motorsport stable, the car he plans to use in the British championship, and impressed again.
The Moffetts, meanwhile, will line up against another big winner from the weekend when they start the BRC series in Wales - Elfyn Evans, who dominated the WRC2 division of Rally Sweden to record his second win in a row.
But Evans will now switch to the British championship to lead the DMACK Tyres Ford team.