Cool, calm Moffett collects National title in Tipperary

Josh Moffett’s sixth national win on the trot on Sunday’s Tipperary Stonethrowers Rally was enough to ensure he and Keith Moriarty claimed the National Rally Championship title with two rounds still to go.

A rally weekend that involves picking up enough points to secure a championship can be one of the least enjoyable experiences for a rally driver. The nerves, cautiousness, and fear of making a mistake are sometimes more dangerous than driving without any change of approach.

But such has been Moffett’s dominance throughout Ireland this year, a win in Tipperary never looked in doubt, never mind securing the 14 points he needed to defend his 2019 National Rally Championship.

Moffett has a relaxed aura that rarely changes. It was no surprise that come Tipperary’s opening stage, the Monaghan man had put the points required for the championship out of his mind and instead focused on doing what he does best – driving hard and setting benchmark stage times.

4.9 seconds was Moffett and Moriarty’s advantage after Stage 1. Daniel Cronin was their nearest challenger and the rest of the rally was looking ominous as Moffett reflected on his first attack of the day – he wasn’t satisfied with his rhythm.

Five seconds up, and yet there was more left in the tank.

Moffett’s lead became 16.6 seconds at the end of Tipperary’s first three stages. An accident for Cronin on Stage 5 gave the Hyundai driver a 55-second cushion with one loop remaining.

An impressive performance from the returning Gareth MacHale was good enough for second-best to Moffett with the top-two finishers setting the exact same time on the final stage of the day.

Nine stages, nine fastest times, and still time for some tasteful slides – Moffett’s Tipperary Rally epitomised his 2022 National Rally Championship.

The 30-year-old has been in a league of his own and has racked up six dominant wins without stress or strain.

“It was hard enough to get through that last stage,” admitted the National Rally Champion to stage-end reporter Andy Walsh, “but we just kept our head, got through it, and we have the championship now.

“We are over the moon, it is nice to get the title again and keep our name on the trophy.”

Moffett’s secret to success? I think everyone would like to know. There is plenty of talent, plenty of experience, and perhaps the right amount of regular rallying.

One thing that can’t be bought, engineered, or trained is Moffett’s mindset of maximum attack and his ability to react to and control any potential moment that could otherwise end his rally.

Moffett has won 10 of his 12 rallies in 2022, finishing as runner-up on the other two. Has anyone ever been so consistent while pushing to the limit?

Whatever ingredients add up to his remarkable season so far, it was nice to hear the champion driver give plenty of credit to those supporting his championship effort.

“It has certainly been a good year for us. I don’t know what it is but it has just worked.

“I think it is a combination of everything really – from Keith and Andy [Hayes] sitting with me and Tom [Gahan] and the boys running the car, it has been faultless all year.

“We were probably starting to lose faith [in the car] a bit towards the end of last year but we just upped a gear this year and started driving the thing a bit more on the ragged edge.

“It seems to have worked, we are happy with the car, it does everything we want it to do.”

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Photos by Gavin Woods and Barronpix