Moffett claims first Donegal win in final day drama

Josh Moffett and Andy Hayes survived a brutal final day of the Donegal International Rally to take their maiden Donegal win.

Callum Devine started Sunday morning with a 17.7-second lead over Wales’ Matt Edwards. With Alastair Fisher and Josh Moffett over 25 seconds further back, it looked like Donegal would be a straight fight between the top two.

That quickly changed, however, when Devine’s Volkswagen Polo R5 took out a round bale in Sunday’s opening Gartan test. Gartan has form for upsetting Donegal leaders and Devine became the latest victim as he was forced to retire mid-stage with radiator damage.

Edwards inherited the lead with a 19.1-second advantage over Moffett who took 12 seconds out of the Welshman on Gartan.

With the first run of High Glen cancelled, crews headed to Atlantic Drive to complete Donegal’s first of two Sunday loops.

Edwards’ Citroen C3 Rally2 opened the stage but suffered a hefty rally-ending, and stage-stopping crash on a fast left-hander.

As a result, Josh Moffett headed back to Donegal’s final service with a one-second lead over Irish Tarmac Rally Championship rival Alastair Fisher.

Moffett extended his advantage over Fisher on Gartan to 3.8 seconds but with High Glen and Atlantic Drive still to go, Fisher knew he still had a chance to fight back.

Unfortunately for Fisher it wasn’t to be as he picked up a puncture on High Glen. It cost him 50 seconds and left Moffett with a clear run to victory should he complete Atlantic Drive.

Fisher’s woes were compounded as he had no brakes through the final stage and dropped from second to fifth at the finish, losing valuable championship points.

Sam Moffett, Meirion Evans, and Declan Boyle all jumped up above the Fermanagh driver to make up the top four.

Evans almost spoiled the Moffetts’ 1-2 party as he went first- and third-fastest over Donegal’s final two stages. Evans missed out on the runner-up finish by 2.4 seconds.

On the Donegal International Rally’s final stage finish, it was all about Josh and Sam’s magnificent 1-2 finish.

“It is unbelievable,” said Josh reflecting on his first Donegal win. “It has been such a long, hard weekend.

“We had a tough start losing a lot of time on the wrong tyres but we pushed hard all weekend. The moments were starting to become normal

“To come home with the win is pretty special.”

“I’m over the moon for him,” said Josh’s brother Sam. “The last stage was the worst I drove all weekend, I was thinking more about Josh.”

Modified

Kevin Gallagher and Ryan Moore claimed a brilliant national victory in Donegal, beating fellow Darrian T90 crew James Stafford and Thomas Scallan by one minute.

The Donegal driver’s victory looked likely since conditions dried on Friday evening but his home assault became more difficult with clutch trouble on Sunday.

Declan Gallagher and Derek Heena completed the modified top three in their Toyota Starlet.

In fact, all three modified crews mentioned finished in Donegal’s top ten overall. Kevin Gallagher narrowly missed out on sixth after Garry Jennings edged ahead of him on Atlantic Drive.

Brian Brady and Gary McNamee won Class 13 in their Honda Civic after battles with JR McDaid, Barry Meade, and Johnny Jordan over Donegal’s three days. It’s Brady’s first win in Class 13.

“We had a lot of dramas,” explained Brady. “We came into our first service on Friday with a burst oil tank but thankfully the service crew fixed it with a fast turnaround.

“The back engine mount was broken at the end of Friday. We couldn’t get it welded in service so we just had to manage it on Saturday morning.

“We have had starter and alternator issues since then so to win Class 13 in Donegal with all those troubles means I’m over the moon.”

Tommy O’Connell and Thomas Wedlock won the Donegal Historic Rally by 31 seconds over Michael McDaid and Declan Casey who clinched top ITRC points.

Ryan McHugh jumped ahead of Dylan Eves on the final stage to win Juniors after the latter spun on Atlantic Drive.

Rally Insight wishes Matt Edwards and David Moynihan a quick recovery.


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Photos by David Harrigan and Roger Dawson

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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