Mof­fett makes Ir­ish ral­ly­ing his­tory with R5 vic­tory in the forests

Motor Sport News - - Rally Reports - By Brian Patterson Re­sults

Or­gan­iser: Car­rick on Suir Mo­tor Club When: Fe­bru­ary 14 Where: Car­rick on Suir Cham­pi­onships: Valvo­line Ir­ish Na­tional For­est Cham­pi­onship, Suir­way Group South East Rally Cham­pi­onship Stages: 8 Starters: 58.

Sam Mof­fett, co-driven by James Ful­ton, fol­lowed up his fine fourth place on the Gal­way In­ter­na­tional ear­lier this month by tak­ing vic­tory in the Car­rick on Suir forests in his new Ford Fi­esta, an Ir­ish land­mark for the R5-spec car which took its first out­right vic­tory south of the bor­der.

Pa­trick O’brien, co-driven by Aine Mcguigan in his Lancer E9, scored one of the best re­sults of his ca­reer with se­cond place. His cause was helped when ex­pected fron­trun­ner and cur­rent Forestry cham­pion Josh Mof­fett be­came a non-starter and last year’s cham­pi­onship run­ner-up, Mick O’brien, was also ab­sent.

Mof­fett moved into an early lead on the open­ing stage, six sec­onds faster than Pa­trick O’brien, but on SS2 – the daunting Gur­teen test with its many jumps – Niall Mccul­lagh, in an Mit­subishi Lancer E10, set the fastest time and took the lead. Mof­fett was rel­e­gated to se­cond.

Through stages three and four, Mccul­lagh con­tin­ued to set a stun­ning pace and, at mid­day ser­vice, held a 14.6s lead over Mof­fett. Reign­ing ju­nior cham­pion O’brien was a fur­ther 13s back. Don Keat­ing had been in the hunt but his Subaru Im­preza suf­fered a punc­ture in stage two which set him back.

The af­ter­noon stages were a re­peat of the morn­ing loop but with added rain and sleet mak­ing con­di­tions tricky. Mon­aghan­based Mof­fett clawed back some time from Mccul­lagh, re­duc­ing the gap to 6.3s af­ter SS5. With stage six not run com­pet­i­tively, Sam Mof­fett moved back into the lead on the next test as the un­lucky Mccul­lagh slid off the road in his Lancer.

Through the fi­nal stage, Mof­fett was able to pace it to the fin­ish. His win­ning mar­gin over Ty­rone’s O’brien was in ex­cess of a minute.

Such was the pace of the lead­ing Ford Es­corts that they fin­ished in fourth, fifth and sixth po­si­tions over­all, with Adrian Hether­ing­ton tak­ing the twowheel-drive vic­tory from John Gor­don and Mickey Con­lon. All three were class win­ners.

Wil­lie Lough­man Forestry Rally Mof­fett headed O’brien

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