MOFFETT WINS AS CRONIN TAKES TARMAC TITLE
feeling his way, having crashed his Citroen DS 3 R5 at a test session two days before the rally. However Cronin did step up the pace in SS3 to take a handful of seconds back from Fisher.
However, the fight was over on the next stage, as Fisher’s Fiesta R5 understeered on a muddy corner, clipped a bank and flipped over. The car was heavily damaged, a season’s effort to win the Tarmac Championship over in a split second for Fisher. Fortunately neither he nor co-driver Gordon Noble suffered any injuries. It meant Cronin was all but assured of the title.
Many drivers were caught out in the difficult slippy conditions. At service it was time to take stock of the situation. Cronin led by 17s from Fiesta WRC driver Roy White, with the Moffett brothers Sam and Josh in third and fourth respectively.
Through the afternoon stages both Josh and Sam Moffett upped their pace considerably. Cronin was in a difficult position following Fisher’s retirement, and possibly, with his mind on the Tarmac Championship, relaxed too much initially. Cronin dropped 11s to Sam Moffett in SS5.
By the end of the afternoon, as the cars were put into parc ferme, Cronin still led, but by just 8s from Sam Moffett, with Roy White a further 5s back, 1s ahead of Josh Moffett. There was just 14s between the top four then, with all to play for through Sunday’s six stages.
Day two was sunny and mostly dry, but there were damp spots under the trees and hedges. Josh Moffett was fastest on the opener, then White topped the times and on the third stage of the loop it was Josh Moffett who took the stage honours and the overall lead, overturning brother Sam and Cronin. Josh said at service that nothing less than outright victory would do him.
White also had his eye on the big prize. Cronin, now second overall, was adamant that he wouldn’t get sucked into a dogfight, the Tarmac title was his only goal. SS12, the second run over Badgers Hill, almost turned Cronin’s dream into a nightmare as, careful as he was in steering clear of hazards, ditches and potholes, his Citroen incurred a frontwheel puncture. He lost around 40s and slipped to fourth. Josh Moffett, White and Sam Moffett all had a fastest time over the final loop of three stages.
Josh Moffett held on and fulfilled his victory dream and Cronin took the Tarmac Championship. In the dash for the line White was relegated to third behind Sam Moffett. Cronin held fourth ahead of DGM team-mate Jonny Greer.
Last-minute twists included Pauric Duffy sliding his Fiesta R5 into a ditch on the penultimate stage, breaking a steering arm and losing his ninth overall place. There was heartbreak for young Marty Gallagher too, his fine drive to lead R2 coming to naught when his Peugeot 208 developed fuel feed problems on the final stage. This allowed Callum Devine in his Opel Adam take the category and 10th overall giving him the two-wheel-drive title in the Tarmac Championship.
Brian Brogan bounced back from a misty window screen to win the national rally ahead of Tommy Doyle (Renault Clio) and Calum Duffy (Skoda Fabia S2500).