Sam Moffett and Keith Moriarty claimed a start-to-finish victory on Sunday’s Kerry Winter Rally. The duo, who was driving brother Josh’s Hyundai i20 R5, finished 36.6 seconds ahead of Gary Kiernan and Darren O’Brien.
Moffett was fastest on all but one of Kerry’s six stages as he controlled a win that never looked in doubt.
“It was great,” said Moffett at the end of Kerry’s final stages. “The conditions were tricky there this evening, I’m glad to get through it.”
It was an impressive R5 debut for Kiernan who survived a major scare on the third stage. The Cavan driver’s Ford Fiesta exhibited plenty of muck at the stage-end after getting a bit too close for comfort to some Banna scenery.
Kevin Eves clinched the final podium position in his Toyota Corolla Twincam after edging past Colin O’Donoghue on the final stage.
The Banna-based Kerry Winter Rally got off to a dramatic start when Donagh Kelly’s Volkswagen Polo R5 blocked the road on the opening Desmond’s Grave test. Running third on the road, the 18-kilometre stage was red-flagged for the remaining crews.
Rob Duggan went third-fastest on the second stage as he returned to rallying in a newly built Ford Escort Mk2. It was only half a second quicker than O’Donoghue who was set to charge ahead in two-wheel-drive on Kerry’s middle loop of stages.
Struggling to stop his Escort into junctions, Duggan dropped five places to eighth by the end of stage four. Blindingly fast times by O’Donoghue had him inherit third overall, over 20 seconds ahead of his nearest two-wheel-drive rival Ed O’Callaghan.
Eves lost at least 10 seconds on stage four’s final junction as he clipped and got stuck on a rock sitting at the inside of the corner. Meanwhile, Daniel Cronin’s hopes of challenging for the rally win were gone before they got started. His Fiesta R5 was misfiring from his first competitive stage of the day.
A clutch issue was to haunt O’Donoghue on Kerry’s final two tests. The Killarney driver lost 17 seconds to Eves on the penultimate stage with his modified lead cut to under 10 seconds. O’Callaghan missed out on the chance to sneak into the modified lead as he slid into a ditch on the same stage.
A final stage attack was enough for Eves to sneak ahead of O’Donoghue by 3.4 seconds. Indeed his big push was quicker than anyone, including Moffett and Kiernan’s R5s, on stage six.
O’Donoghue had to settle for fourth overall, 27 seconds ahead of Owen Murphy who was out in his R5 Fiesta. Ed O’Callaghan rounded out Kerry’s top six.
Chris O’Callaghan and John Warren were embroiled in a rally-long battle for Class 13 honours. Warren’s Corolla held the early advantage before O’Callaghan fought back through the day to clinch a 5.7-second class win. Their battle was enough to give both a top ten overall finish.
Photos by Barronpix