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Boyle opts for WRC power in quest to land record fourth Irish rally title

 

Italian venture: Craig Breen
Italian venture: Craig Breen

By Sammy Hamill

Declan Boyle switches back to his WRC Ford Fiesta as he launches his bid to become the first four-time winner of the Triton Showers Irish National Rally Championship tomorrow.

The 2018 champion joined the growing band of drivers running R5 cars for the premier Irish Tarmac series, debuting a new Fiesta in the Galway International two weeks ago and finishing seventh.

But the more powerful WRC cars are still fully eligible for the national Championship which begins with the Birr Rally and Boyle has opted to return to the M-Sport Ford in which he edged out Josh Moffett for the title last season.

Moffett, the reigning Tarmac champion, is also swapping his R5 Fiesta for a WRC version for Birr as he attempts to emulate his brother Sam, who won the national title in 2017.

The elder of the Moffetts sticks with his R5 Fiesta in a line-up which sees David Bogie bring his R5 Skoda Fabia from Scotland as he steps up his bid to regain the British title. Having finished second on the opening round in Wales last week, Bogie will use tomorrow's event as a test session ahead of the BRC series coming to West Cork next month.

Peadar Hurson, the national champion way back in 1992, and Joe McGonigle, who was third last year, are the leading Ulster drivers in the Birr starting list, the former at No.5 in his WRC Fiesta and the latter at six in his WRC Mini.

The rally is based at the Abbeyleix Manor Hotel and starts at 9am.

Meanwhile, two former Tarmac champions, Kenny McKinstry and Darren Gass, are additional entries in today's Pacenotes Stages Rally, the first round of the McGrady Insurance Northern Ireland series at Kirkistown.

McKinstry, a three-time NI champion, drives his S14 Subaru WRC and Gass is debuting his new Skoda Fabia R5.

Craig Breen, who was dropped from the Citroen World Championship team at the end of last season, has revealed he is to tackle rounds of the Italian Championship in an R5 Skoda with the Metior Sport team.

Determined to keep busy while he chases a return to the top level, Breen leads the Irish Tarmac series after winning the first round in Galway and is expected to be in the line-up for West Cork.

But now he is also heading to Italy for a Championship which begins with the Rally Il Ciocco starting on March 22.

However, he insisted: "This is not a signal of intent, WRC is where I want to be. But in the meantime, I'm going to enjoy the Italian roads, and overcome some challenges."

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