JOSH IS TOP MOFFETT
Sam Moffett comes up short by less than a second as Josh takes the win
Organiser: Carrick on Suir Motor Club When: February 12 Where: Carrick on Suir Championships: Irish Forest Rally Championship, South East Championship Stages: 6 Starters 70.
Former Irish Forest Rally champion Josh Moffett just kept his brother Sam at bay to take a narrow victory on the Willie Loughman rally.
It was a day of R5 battles at the front. Sam Moffett led for the first four stages, but Josh nosed in front when it mattered.
Keith Cronin spent the day settling into his new Ford Fiesta R5 and was eventually third. After the Cambrian Rally was cancelled, Desi Henry put a late entry into the event and took fourth ahead of fellow Skoda Fabia R5 man Marty Mccormack.
The rally started with a very short stage, Ahenny, where Sam Moffett was fastest by 4s from his brother Josh, with Mccormack a further 2s back. The second stage, Slievenamon, was 8.78 miles but fairly non-technical, and there were only a few seconds between the top three.
The cars then headed into service in Carrick-on-suir and Sam Moffett held a 5s lead over Mccormack, with Josh less than 1s in arrears. Cronin was fourth and stated that he was bedding himself into his R5, concentrating on getting a feel for the brakes, and wasn’t concerned with anybody else’s times.
Henry was fifth and said that his Skoda seemed to be lacking traction.
Adrian Hetherington was sixth and reported no problems, but it was noticeable how his Toyota Corolla WRC simply wasn’t as sharp as the new R5 machinery out front.
Much the same could be said about Pat O’connell in seventh, a fine driver and former forestry champion. His Mitsubishi Lancer seemed no match in the race of the R5s.
Through the middle loop, a repeat of the first two stages, Sam and Josh Moffett both set a fastest time, so that they were first and second respectively at the next service.
Mccormack dropped some time in stage four, citing an issue with tyres, but still held third.
Cronin was gradually upping his pace in fourth, but closer to the pace of the leading three despite having to run over a rock on the line in stage four.
For many the meat of the rally was stages five and six, two runs over the long 13.6-mile tough and bumpy Gurteen stage.
Josh Moffett made a real charge through SS5, 11s up on his brother Sam, with both Cronin and Henry just a couple of seconds down on Josh. Sam Moffett reckoned he was too wild through some of the junctions.
Mccormack lost momentum on this one and he reckoned he was asleep, and dropped from third to fifth.
Henry’s time was all the more remarkable as his Skoda incurred a puncture well before the end of the stage.
As it turned out, the final stage was shortened and Sam Moffett took fastest time, 7s quicker than Josh, but the latter took the win by 0.6s. Cronin was a solid third.
David Crossen was fastest two-wheel-drive car on the final stage and won the category from fellow Escort man Mickey Conlon. John Gordon had been second but retired his Escort. Shane Mcgirr – reigning two-wheeldrive champion – retired with a broken ‘diff earlier in the day.
Josh Moffett beat brother Sam