Josh Moffett and Keith Moriarty could clinch the National Rally Championship title on Sunday’s Tipperary Stonethrowers Rally, with two rounds still remaining.
The Hyundai i20 R5 driver has been untouchable in the single-day series this year taking convincing wins on all five rounds so far. Moffett only needs a top-four finish to defend his 2019 National Rally Championship crown but a sixth win in a row will be hard to resist.
Darren Gass and Robert Barrable are tied for second in the championship, 35 points behind Moffett. Barrable is missing from the Stonethrowers entry and with Gass only in the reserves, Moffett may only need seven points (an 11th-place finish) to seal this year’s title.
The Donegal International Rally winner is on a three-rally winning streak. If he extends that in Tipperary he will join his brother Sam and 1981 champion, Donie Keating, as the only drivers to have won the first six rallies of Ireland’s National Rally Championship.
Daniel Cronin will be Moffett’s biggest threat to success on the Stonethrowers. Cronin has finished sixth, fourth, and fifth on his three events so far in the family Volkswagen Polo R5. The Ballylickey driver is expected to return to the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship for the Cork 20 International Rally which takes place two weeks after Tipperary.
Tim McNulty completes Tipperary’s top three with David Guest and Owen Murphy set to showcase new purchases seeded fourth and fifth.
Guest will step up from his Ford Fiesta R5 to M-Sport’s Rally2 version, driving a car previously owned by Callum Devine.
Meanwhile, Murphy opted to switch from Ford to Citroen as he makes his debut behind the wheel of a Rally2 C3 this Sunday.
MacHale brothers, Gareth and Aaron, continue their comeback in a brace of right-hand-drive Polo R5s in Tipperary.
Another name to note is Daragh O’Riordan who returns to four-wheel-drive rallying for the first time since winning the Circuit of Kerry in 2019. The 2014 Stonethrowers Rally winner has paired up with ITRC-leading co-driver Andy Hayes in a Ford Fiesta S2000.
Ed O’Callaghan tops Tipperary’s modified entry ahead of Michael Carbin and Jason Black. Carbin and Black have had sensational campaigns so far, sitting fourth and fifth respectively in the overall standings.
The stages by Onthepacenote
Donoughmore (7.44 km) // SS1/4/7
This should be the most straightforward test of the day for Tipperary’s 150 starters. There is nothing that stands out as being really tricky although it is still quite fast.
It will be a good stage to let crews settle and get bedded into the rally.
Magoury (17.50 km) // SS2/5/8
A fast and committed stage with a lot more work involved throughout its 17 kilometres. There are a lot of medium-speed corners in the first three-quarters of the stage.
It will be busy for the crews inside the car with a lot of the corners linking into each other.
There are sections that are quite committed leading into slower corners so crews will need to be careful not to get caught out.
The last quarter of the stage is absolutely flat out through a variety of fast corners.
Kilmore (11.60 km) // SS3/6/9
This is an epic stage. Drivers will barely touch the brake pedal. After the second corner, it is busy the whole way.
It is going to be very challenging for the co-drivers as the stage has a lot of long corners that nip in at the end before leading onto another corner.
It will be a tricky stage for both the driver listening to the pacenotes and the co-driver calling the pacenotes.
If someone was to take five or six seconds, it could be done on this stage but they would have to stick their neck out.
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Photos by Roger Dawson