Josh Moffett will aim to go four from four in the National Rally Championship on Sunday’s Carlow Stages Rally. Keith Moriarty returns as Moffett’s co-driver in Carlow after sitting with Josh’s brother Sam on April’s Monaghan Stages Rally.
Two long, tough stages will be tackled three times, providing the guts of 110 competitive kilometres around the rally’s Carlow town base.
Robert Barrable, Darren Gass, and Declan Boyle will be hoping to finally bridge the gap to the so-far dominant Moffett in 2022. Moffett won seven of the eight stages on his home Monaghan Rally last month. However, the Hyundai i20 R5 driver has only competed in Carlow once before and that was ten years ago in a Group N Mitsubishi Evo.
Barrable and Gass have been getting up to speed in their Volkswagen Polo R5 and Citroen C3 Rally2 cars this year but will have to unlock another level of performance to topple Moffett’s Hyundai.
Tim McNulty, Brendan Cumiskey, and Paul Barrett continue their National Rally Championship campaigns in various Rally2 cars while Peadar Hurson brings his Ford Fiesta WRC to the party.
2007 National Rally Champion, Aaron MacHale, looks set to debut his recently converted right-hand-drive Polo R5 in Carlow.
Enda O’Brien will pilot another Polo R5 with the two-time Carlow podium finisher hoping for a good result on an event close to his Kilkenny home.
Carlow has attracted another tantilising two-wheel-drive entry. A trophy for Ford Escort Mk2 competitors adds an extra dimension to the modified battle.
Ryan Loughran has the privilege of running Carlow’s number one doorcard after winning the 2019 event, 0.7 seconds ahead of Damian Toner.
Toner has skipped this year’s event but one could easily overlook his absence given the depth of top two-wheel-drive crews.
Current Class 14 championship leaders Gary Kiernan and Darren O’Brien are seeded 20th with Ed O’Callaghan, David Condell, Frank Kelly, and Chris Armstrong providing healthy Mk2 Escort competition.
Jonathan Pringle, fresh from a top ten finish on Enniskillen’s May Day Rally, returns to a National Rally entry for the first time since 2019. In fact, his last two finishes were victories in 2018’s Galway Summer Rally and Laois Heartlands Mini Stages Rally.
Kevin Eves’s Toyota Corolla was the car to beat on the Birr Stages Rally before performing well on Killarney’s Rally of the Lakes. He’ll aim to boost his championship credentials on his first visit to Carlow.
As always, Jason Black and Karl Egan will be ready to upset the 2.5-litre cars in their Class 13 Toyota Starlet. Black is another Carlow debutant.
Photos by Roger Dawson and Adam Hall
2022 Carlow Stages Rally itinerary
SS1 Drumfea 1 (19.10 km) // 10:00
SS2 Ballintemple 1 (17.40 km) // 10:40
SS3 Drumfea 2 (19.10 km) // 12:34
SS4 Ballintemple 2 (17.40 km) // 13:14
SS5 Drumfea 3 (19.10 km) // 15:08
SS6 Ballintemple 3 (17.40 km) // 15:48
2022 Carlow Stages Rally top ten
1 Ryan Loughran – Gareth Doherty (Ford Escort Mk2)
2 Josh Moffett – Keith Moriarty (Hyundai i20 R5)
3 Darren Gass – Noel O’Sullivan (Citroen C3 Rally2)
4 Robert Barrable – Paddy Robinson (Volkswagen Polo R5)
5 Declan Boyle – James O’Reilly (Ford Fiesta WRC)
6 Derek McGarrity – Graham Henderson (Polo R5)
7 Tim McNulty – Paul Kiely (Ford Fiesta R5)
8 Peadar Hurson – Damien Connolly (Fiesta WRC)
9 Brendan Cumiskey – TBC (Polo R5)
10 Paul Barrett – Kevin Reilly (Fiesta R5)