Sam Moffett and Eugene Donnelly in boost for Galway rally
Sam Moffett and Eugene Donnelly have given the start of the 2014 Irish Tarmac rally championship a real lift ahead of next week's opening round, the Galway International.
Moffett, a former Tarmac production champion, sprang a big surprise when he won last season's Donegal International in his first appearance in the series in a WRC Subaru. Now he has taken a leap forward with one of the current breed of WRC cars, an M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS.
And Donnelly, a record-equalling five times Tarmac champion, is back to drive one of the McGeehan Motorsport WRC Minis on the February 8-9 Galway event.
Moffett, the 2011 winner of Motorsport Ireland's Billy Coleman Award, won the production title in 2012 but then impressed with two victories, including the three-day Donegal Rally, when he drove McKinstry Motorsport's S14 Subaru last year. Now he has signalled his intentions to make the step up permanent.
"The few drives in the Subaru last year gave me great confidence, especially when we were competitive straight away, so hopefully we can do the same with the Fiesta," he says, adding: "I'm also hoping to do a few rallies abroad later in the year with the car."
Donnelly is a four-time Galway International winner and the second most successful driver in the history of the premier Tarmac championship with 18 victories.
However the Maghera man has made only sporadic appearances in recent years and hasn't won since the Ulster Rally in 2009.
But those one-off appearances have seen Donnelly finish second in the past two Galway events driving the McGeehan Mini.
His association with local BMW dealer Colm Quinn, the rally sponsor, brings him back again to a line-up which will include reigning Irish national champion Declan Boyle, Donagh Kelly, Daragh O'Riordan who will also drive an M-Sport Ford Fiesta, Paedar Hurson, Josh Moffett and the 2013 Billy Coleman Award winner Stephen Wright.