Belfast Telegraph

Two wins in a row send Moffett into clear lead

By Sammy Hamill

Sam Moffett made it two wins out of two in a perfect start to this season's Triton Showers Irish national rally championship.

Having already won the opening round at Nenagh two weeks ago, the Clontibret driver dominated the Midland Stages based at Longford yesterday, bringing his WRC Ford Fiesta home over a minute ahead of the field.

Moffett, who is also a major contender in the premier Irish Tarmac championship in his R5 Fiesta, seamlessly switched back to his more powerful WRC Ford to lead from start to finish and ended with a winning margin of 69 seconds over reigning national champion Roy White, also in a WRC Fiesta.

Manus Kelly, surprise winner of the Donegal International last season, took third place in his first outing of the year in a Melvin Evans WRC Subaru. He had been ahead of White but spun and lost time on the penultimate stage.

Donagh Kelly, winner of last week's West Cork round of the Tarmac series, was a non-starter and two-time national champion Declan Boyle crashed his WRC Fiesta out of second place on stage seven.

He had endured a torrid rally, spinning on three of the stages before clipping a chicane two stages from the end, the Fiesta ending up in a field.

Niall Maguire was fourth in his Subaru ahead of the leading two-wheel-drive car, the Ford Escort of Adrian Hetherington, with Brian Brogan sixth in another Escort.

David Guest was eighth overall and winner of the production category in his Mitsubishi.

Moffett and co-driver Karl Atkinson now lead the national series by nine points from White with Maguire in third. Sam now heads out to Portugal to support his brother Josh who is competing on the first round of the European championship in the Azores this week.

It starts from Ponta Delgado on Thursday with Irish forest champion Josh seeded 10th in his R5 Fiesta. The entry list is headed by Poland's reigning European champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz with Russian Alex Lukyanuk at No.2.

Meanwhile, Robert Woodside and navigator Bruce Drummond won the Circuit of Ulster, an old-style Targa rally organised by a conglomerate of motorsport clubs in support of the new Northern Ireland air ambulance.

Woodside started from Larne to face 18 speed tests across the north of the province and led throughout the day in his Toyota MR2 to win by 16 seconds from the Mazda MX5 of David Crothers and Barbara Kane. Eric Patterson and Raymond Donaldson were third in another Mazda.

Sponsored by the Woodside Group, it proved a real family affair with Robert's cousins, Simon, Mark and Tim all finishing in a top 10 which also included Mark Stewart (fourth), Damien Mooney (sixth), Paul Williamson (seventh) and Frank Lenehan (ninth).

The air ambulance service was the real winner on the day, the event raising more than £10,000 for the cause.

Belfast Telegraph

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