Two asphalt rallies take place in Ireland this weekend. 100 crews will tackle the Tyrone Stages Rally on Saturday before a maxed out Circuit of Munster entry tears around Limerick on Sunday.
With names like Sam Moffett, Declan Boyle, Desi Henry, Garry Jennings, Gareth MacHale, Aaron MacHale, and Eamonn Kelly featured at the top of both entry lists; it is hard not to get excited about them – nevermind the potential of the Donegal International Rally two weeks later.
Desi Henry and Paddy Robinson lead an incredibly healthy entry list for Saturday’s Tyrone Stages. The Ford Fiesta Rally2 crew will be hoping to double up on their Maiden City success two weeks earlier.
Henry isn’t the only one heading to Stewartstown aiming to build up some tarmac miles before Donegal.
Jonny Greer, Cathan McCourt, Joseph McGonigle, and Declan Boyle all feature within Tyrone’s top ten. Citroen drivers Greer and McCourt are surely the most likely to deny Henry his fourth win of 2022.
Late entries Darren Gass and Garry Jennings are also ones to watch in Tyrone.
Gareth and Aaron MacHale are set to return to competitive action in two right-hand-drive Volkswagen Polo R5s. It’s Gareth’s first rally since 2018, Aaron’s first since 2019 – the last time they competed against each other was the Cork 20 Rally 12 years ago.
Tyrone’s two-wheel-drive entry is headed by David Bogie who travels across the Irish Sea fresh from a second-place finish on the Jim Clark Reivers Rally. The Scotsman will exhibit his Ford Escort rocketship which is a sure-fire fan-favourite.
Ryan Loughran will be hoping to end his recent run of opening stage misfortune in his Mk2 Escort. David Moffett and Marty Toner add some additional competition to the modified race.
A string of well-known locals will aim for home success – a long list that includes Frank Kelly, Adrian Hetherington, David Moffett, and Camillus Bradley.
With nine stages across 72 kilometres, you will wait a long time to see a stronger single-day rally in Northern Ireland.
Circuit of Munster:
300 kilometres down the road, rallying will recommence on Sunday morning as Limerick Motor Club hosts Round 5 of the National Rally Championship – the Circuit of Munster Stages Rally.
Josh Moffett is going for five national wins in 2022 on the Rathkeale-based rally. The Monaghan ace has cruised to his victories so far this year but the Circuit of Munster could be his toughest test to date.
Older brother Sam Moffett returns behind the wheel of the family Ford Fiesta WRC. Keith Moriarty switches into Sam’s passenger seat while Andy Hayes fills the navigator role for Josh.
The two Moffetts were in a league of their own on their last duel in Monaghan. With Cathan McCourt, Declan Boyle, Robert Barrable, and Garry Jennings all travelling to Limerick; it’s unlikely they’ll have it handy this time around.
Eamonn Kelly is set to make his second R5 appearance after winning the Jim Clark Rally’s Rally4 section last weekend. As he did in Mayo, Kelly will drive his Father’s Polo R5 on Sunday.
Ed O’Callaghan leads the two-wheel-drive entry, fresh from his Mk2 Challenge success in Carlow. Jason Black is seeded one car behind in his Class 13 Toyota Starlet. Black is somehow fourth overall in the National Rally Championship, a credit to his performances so far in 2022.
Cavan’s Jonathan Pringle makes his second NRC outing in a row in his Ford Escort Mk2.
This weekend’s double-header has the added intrigue of several crews doing both the Tyrone Stages and the Circuit of Munster.
Cathan McCourt, Declan Boyle along with his sons Michael and Matthew, Aaron and Gareth MacHale, and Garry Jennings are just some of the drivers ready to rack up 18 stages in the north and south of the Emerald Isle.
So there you have it, if you can’t wait for Donegal – head to Tyrone or Limerick to get a taster of what’s to come later in June. Or if like some of Ireland’s leading rally crews, you can’t get enough of Irish tar, why not go to both!
Tyrone Stages itinerary:
SS1 Roughan 1 (8.26 km) // 10:48
SS2 Blue Hills 1 (7.84 km) // 11:18
SS3 Drumcairne 1 (7.66 km) // 11:35
SS4 Roughan 2 (8.26 km) // 12:54
SS5 Blue Hills 2 (7.84 km) // 13:24
SS6 Drumcairne 2 (7.66 km) // 13:41
SS7 Roughan 3 (8.26 km) // 15:00
SS8 Blue Hills 3 (7.84 km) // 15:30
SS9 Drumcairne 3 (7.66 km) // 15:47
Tyrone Stages entry list (top ten)
1 Desi Henry – Paddy Robinson (Ford Fiesta Rally2)
2 Jonathan Greer – Dai Roberts (Citroen C3 Rally2)
3 Derek McGarrity – Graham Henderson (Volkswagen Polo R5)
4 Joseph McGonigle – Ciaran Geaney (Fiesta Rally2)
5 Cathan McCourt – Liam Moynihan (C3 Rally2)
6 Peadar Hurson – Damien Connolly (Fiesta WRC)
7 Declan Boyle – Shane Byrne (Polo R5)
8 Alan Carmichael – Arthur Kierans (Hyundai i20 R5)
9 Phillip Allen – Mark Kane (Fiesta R5)
10 Aaron McLaughlin – Darren Curran (Fiesta WRC)
Circuit of Munster itinerary:
SS1 Duckstown 1 (18.5 km) // 10:22
SS2 Corronaher 1 (19.2 km) // 10:50
SS3 Granagh 1 (9.0 km) // 11:33
SS4 Duckstown 2 (18.5 km) // 12:59
SS5 Corronaher 2 (19.2 km) // 13:27
SS6 Granagh 2 (9.0 km) // 14:10
SS7 Duckstown 3 (18.5 km) // 15:36
SS8 Corronaher 3 (19.2 km) // 16:04
SS9 Granagh 3 (9.0 km) // 16:47
Circuit of Munster entry list (top ten)
1 Josh Moffett – Andy Hayes (Hyundai i20 R5)
2 Sam Moffett – Keith Moriarty (Ford Fiesta WRC)
3 Cathan McCourt – Liam Moynihan (Citroen C3 Rally2)
4 Declan Boyle – James O’Reilly (TBA)
5 Robert Barrable – Paddy Robinson (Ford Fiesta Rally2)
6 Garry Jennings – Rory Kennedy (Ford Fiesta R5)
7 Seamus Leonard – John McCaffrey (Fiesta R5)
8 Eamonn Kelly – Conor Mohan (Volkswagen Polo R5)
9 Tim McNulty – Paul Kiely (Fiesta Rally2)
10 Paul Barrett – Kevin Reilly (Fiesta R5)
Photos by David Harrigan, Kevin Glendinning, and Roger Dawson