Moffett tops Mayo entry as National season commences

Sunday’s Mayo Stages Rally opens the 2022 National Rally Championship, Ireland’s last remaining major series to get underway. Galway International Rally winner and 2019 National Champion Josh Moffett leads the 140-car strong mainfield set for action in Mayo.

Moffett, who is co-driven by Keith Moriarty this weekend, justifies his number one seed but will have to be at his best to fend off the ever-threatening Declan Boyle.

The three-time National Rally Champion and is on the look-out for an R5 this year but for now remains in his mean Ford Fiesta WRC. When running smoothly, the Donegal driver’s World Rally Car is as fast as they come. Boyle’s combination of Fiesta WRC and James O’Reilly calling the pacenotes claimed victory on his last visit to Mayo four years ago.

Peadar Hurson is another to return to the National Rally Championship in a Fiesta WRC while Cork’s Kevin Kelleher exhibits his Subaru Impreza S14 WRC in Mayo.

Stephen Wright, Joseph McGonigle, and Aidan Wray are somewhat known quantities in their R5 and Rally2 Ford Fiesta variants. All three will be hoping to battle through from seedings in the second half of the top ten.

It is Robert Barrable and Darren Gass, however, who provide the unknown aspect of Mayo Stages Rally’s top ten. Barrable has been out of action for a few years and had hoped to make a comeback on 2020’s West Cork Rally.

The talented Dubliner is set to contest this year’s National Rally Championship in one of Melvyn Evans Motorsport’s Volkswagen Polo R5s.

Meanwhile, Markethill’s 2012 Irish Tarmac Rally Champion will continue to find his feet in a Citroen C3 Rally2. Gass finished fifth on his debut in the car on February’s Kirkistown Stages Rally.

Tim McNulty is out to get more seat-time in his new Rally2 Fiesta in Mayo. He’s joined by fellow ex World Rally Car regulars Seamus Leonard and Niall Maguire as they dip their toes in the Rally2 category.

2021 Junior British Rally Championship runner-up Eamonn Kelly is also making his first appearance in an R5. The Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy member will drive his Father Donagh’s Volkswagen Polo in Mayo – the same car Donagh used to win Mayo’s last rally two years ago.

In modifieds, Gary Kiernan will hope to continue his winning form from February’s Galway International Rally. Class 13 driver Jason Black has opted to go for a Mayo challenge after having to settle for second in Galway when a puncture ruined his battle with Kiernan.

Gary McPhillips, Chris and Ed O’Callaghan are further Ford Escort men hoping to challenge for modified glory.

Johnny Jordan and John Warren are two more potential Class 13 winners. They have a new name to contend with in Mayo as front-running regular Sam Moffett converts to a two-wheel-drive Toyota Starlet.

Mayo’s Rally4 category is set to be a competitive one. Group N pacesetter Michael Boyle has opted for an R2 Fiesta. He’ll face stiff competition from the impressive Ryan Caldwell, MI academy member Kyle McBride, and Junior BRC’s Joseph Kelly.

The Mayo Stages Rally features an alternative take on Ireland’s usually two-stage looped format. Killian Duffy spoke to Rally Insight last month to explain how Mayo Motor Club managed to modify the stages to run an extra loop at the end of the rally.

The alterations mean crews will tackle eight tests on Sunday, totalling 97 stage kilometres.

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Mayo Stages Rally schedule

SS1 // The Ranch 1, 16.12 km – 08:49
SS2 // Gerry Ronan Transport 1, 9.70 km – 09:28

SS3 // The Ranch 2, 16.12 km – 11:20
SS4 // Gerry Ronan Transport 2, 9.70 km – 11:59

SS5 // The Ranch 3, 16.12 km – 13:51
SS6 // Gerry Ronan Transport 3, 9.70 km – 14:30

SS7 // Boleyboy, 13.13 km – 16:17
SS8 // Cottage Bridge, 6.22 km – 16:52

Mayo Stages Rally top ten

1 // Josh Moffett – Keith Moriarty (Hyundai i20 R5)
2 // Declan Boyle – James O’Reilly (Ford Fiesta WRC)

3 // Robert Barrable – Paddy Robinson (Volkswagen Polo R5)
4 // Peadar Hurson – Damien Connolly (Fiesta WRC)

5 // Stephen Wright – Ger Conway (Ford Fiesta R5)
6 // Darren Gass – Noel O’Sullivan (Citroen C3 Rally2)

7 // Joseph McGonigle – Ciaran Geaney (Ford Fiesta Rally2)
8 // Aidan Wray – Niall Burns (Fiesta R5)

9 // Seamus Leonard – John McCaffrey (Fiesta Rally2)
10 // Tim McNulty – Paul Kiely (Fiesta Rally2)

2022 Motorsport Ireland National Rally Championship calendar

R1 // Mayo Stages Rally – 6 March
R2 // Birr Stages Rally – 3 April

R3 // Monaghan Stages Rally – 24 April
R4 // Carlow Stages Rally – 15 May

R5 // Circuit of Munster Rally – 5 June
R6 // Tipperary Stonethrowers Rally – 17 July

R7 // Galway Summer Rally – 28 August
R8 // Donegal Harvest Rally – 8 October

Photos by Kevin Glendinning and Adam Hall

Adam Hall

Brought up in the Irish countryside, Adam was never far away from the world of rallying. From following local events like the Circuit of Ireland and the Ulster Rally, Adam now puts the stories from stages all around the world into words through his website Rally Insight.

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