Belfast Telegraph

Tipperary win is major fillip for Moffett ahead of Ulster Rally mission


Tipp top: Josh Moffett’s next stop is the Ulster Rally
Tipp top: Josh Moffett’s next stop is the Ulster Rally

By Sammy Hamill

There is nothing like a win to boost a driver's confidence and that's just what Josh Moffett got ahead of this weekend's John Mulholland Ulster Rally.

Monaghan man Josh led from start to finish - with a drama or two along the way - to win the Stonethrowers Rally in Tipperary on Sunday, a victory which raised his prospects of taking the Irish National Championship.

Just as importantly, it set him up nicely for battles ahead in the Irish Tarmac Championship where he sits in second place just a point behind his brother Sam, the reigning champion.

Sam is also the National champion - and the Irish forestry champion too - and, as Josh tries to emulate his elder brother, he picked up his second victory of the Triton Showers series, holding off the Championship leader in a tense finish in Clonmel.

Both were driving up-rated WRC Ford Fiestas and, although Josh led from the start, building up a 20-second-plus lead, he had a late fright when the car lapsed onto three cylinders on the penultimate stage, allowing Declan Boyle to narrow the gap to four seconds.

But a charge through the final Power Stage saw Josh set the fastest time to secure victory by eight seconds and close to within 17 points of Boyle at the top of the standings.

Joe McGonigle remains second after finishing fourth in his WRC Mini, 12 seconds behind the WRC Fiesta of former champion Roy White.

Now Josh turns his attention to the premier Tarmac series and the Friday afternoon start to the Ulster International in Antrim. He will switch back to his R5 Fiesta to take on the leading contenders in the British Championship, including 2017 champion Keith Cronin and current leader of the series Matt Edwards.

The Ulster Rally played a crucial role in Cronin's run to a fourth British title last year, his victory setting up a final-round showdown with Sweden's Fredrik Ahlin in the Isle of Man.

Now the Cork driver, a former Tarmac champion, finds himself in a similar position, trailing Edwards by 20 points heading into the two-day Ulster round, which starts from Antrim Castle Gardens at lunch time.

Cronin is the top seed in his R5 Hyundai i20 with the Moffetts at two and three in their Fiestas and Edwards at No.4 in another Fiesta.

Desi Henry (Skoda Fabia) and Jonny Greer (Fiesta) lead the local challenge at five and six.

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