Five-time Loughgall Stages Rally winner Damian Toner tops a 58-car strong entry for North Armagh Motor Club’s popular country park rally. Toner, who will be co-driven by Denver Rafferty, faces fresh opposition from Sam Moffett, Jason Black, and Ford Fiesta R5 driver Aaron McLaughlin.
The Loughgall Stages Rally formed part of the Northern Ireland Rally Championship last year and was won by eventual champions Jonny Greer and Kirsty Riddick.
The rally isn’t in the 2022 NI Rally Championship and Donegal’s McLaughlin is in the minority of drivers taking a four-wheel-drive car to the tight and twisty single-venue event.
After five straight Loughgall Rally wins, Toner had to settle for fifth overall and top two-wheel-drive in 2021. His rally defence was hampered by washout weather conditions 10 months ago.
Sam Moffett will take on Loughgall’s unique challenge for the first time since 2008 this Saturday. It will be his third rally behind the wheel of his two-litre Toyota Starlet after finishing second and first in class on its previous two outings. Donegal International Rally’s runner-up will have a special passenger onboard this time.
Current Irish Tarmac and National Rally Championship leader Josh Moffett will call the notes for his older brother through Loughgall’s six stages. It comes two weeks after Josh and Sam claimed an historic 1-2 in Donegal.
Believe it or not, Loughgall will be Josh’s second time navigating Sam on a rally. The Moffett brothers competed together in a Citroen C2 R2 14 years ago on the ALMC Stages Rally. The then-teenagers crashed out on that occasion but it is safe to say Sam and Josh have a bit more experience this time around.
The Moffetts will have no time to take in Loughgall’s scenic surrounds as Jason Black hunts them down in a similar rear-wheel-drive Starlet. Black is seeded one place behind the 2017 and ‘18 Irish Tarmac Rally Champions.
The Class 13 ace spun on Loughgall’s first stage last year but fought back to apply some pressure to Toner’s two-wheel-drive lead. The talented 24-year-old will be aiming for success on his third attempt at his local rally.
Marty Toner makes it four County Armagh based drivers in Loughgall’s top five. Spectators will be hoping the BMW driver puts on his usual high level of entertainment on Saturday.
John Bradley mans the second-highest seeded Ford Escort, sixth on the road, ahead of Gareth Black’s Bath Shack backed Starlet.
Loughgall Rally’s first of six asphalt stages gets underway at 10:00 on Saturday 2nd July. The event is spectator friendly with easy access to stages and the service area.