Edwards victorious on tricky Circuit of Ireland Rally

Samdec Security International ITRC

The Irish Tarmac Rally Championship title race took a fascinating turn as Matt Edwards and David Moynihan sealed their first win of the season on Saturday’s Circuit of Ireland Rally.

Edwards overhauled championship leader Keith Cronin amid an afternoon hail shower to snatch a 14.4-second victory on the eight-stage event. The win puts Edwards into second in the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship standings after going one place better than his runner-up finish on the West Cork Rally a fortnight ago.

The three-time British Rally Champion set the fastest time on the Circuit’s opening Drummond stage, albeit only Four-tenths of a second quicker than Cronin. Defending Circuit of Ireland winner Callum Devine was seven seconds back in third after his Volkswagen Polo R5 cut out for a few seconds after a heavy landing on the bumpy stage.

1.6 seconds covered the top three crews on stage two, a mud-ridden 14.5 kilometres through The Hollow. Cronin went fastest to move 0.6 seconds ahead of Edwards with Devine remaining on the fringes of the top two in third.

Josh Moffett had a close encounter with a herd of cattle on the Circuit of Ireland’s second test. The two-time Irish Tarmac Champion lost 30 seconds as he chased them down the road in his Citroen C3 Rally. Moffett’s time was amended before the end of the event.

The drama continued on stage three, Sweathouse, as third-placed Devine slid wide and clipped a rock three kilometres from the end on one of the Circuit’s many slippery corners.

The rally story took another turn on the final stage of Saturday morning’s loop as Edwards went fastest to move within two-tenths of Cronin.

Jonny Greer punched in the third-fastest time on stage four and remained fourth overall, 6.2 seconds behind Moffett.

The sun was blazing over the countryside south of Dungannon as the leading crews left the Circuit of Ireland’s midday service halt.

Galway and West Cork winner Keith Cronin utilised all the grip on offer in Drummond to punch in his third stage win of the day, extending his lead to 4.7 seconds over Edwards.

For Cronin’s challengers, the signs were looking ominous that the Ballylickey pilot would get his third Irish Tarmac win on the bounce.

Out of nowhere, the clouds burst and a heavy hail shower completely changed the conditions for the next test, The Hollow.

Edwards pulled an ace out of his pocket as he bolted two spare wet tyres onto his Fiesta for the upcoming slippery stage.

The move worked as the Welshman went 10.6 seconds quicker than Cronin to move into a 5.9-second rally lead.

The slippery conditions caught out fourth-placed Greer when he dropped out at the start of stage six.

Edwards set the pace again on the Circuit of Ireland’s penultimate test although he did well to survive a scare over a jump when his Fiesta brushed along a hedge as it came back to the road surface.

Meanwhile, Cronin struggled to keep his cut slick tyres up to temperature through the stage littered with puddles of water.

A fifth and final stage win on the Circuit of Ireland’s decider was enough for Matt Edwards and David Moynihan to seal their first win in Ireland since the 2021 Ulster Rally.

Keith Cronin and Mikie Galvin retain their Irish Tarmac Rally Championship lead after finishing second on the Circuit as Josh Moffett and Andy Hayes completed the rally’s top three.

Cathan McCourt was delighted to finish fourth overall with his times progressively getting closer to the frontrunners through the day.

Desi Henry had been fourth until he slid his Citroen C3 into a fence on the Circuit’s final stage, allowing Garry Jennings who punctured earlier in the rally to seal fifth overall.

Top five standings

1 Edwards / Moynihan (Ford Fiesta Rally2) 1:11:46.3s

2 Cronin / Galvin (Fiesta) +14.4s

3 Moffett / Hayes (Citroen C3 Rally2) +1:46.1

4 McCourt / Hoy (Fiesta) +2:11.5

5 Jennings / Kennedy (Fiesta) +3:43.2


Cian Caldwell and Liam Egan took a big Rally4 win on the Circuit of Ireland to boost their Rally4 championship hopes. Caldwell, who sealed third-place points in West Cork, inherited the top spot when Se Og Martin dropped out on the Circuit’s third test.

Caldwell managed the lead through the remaining five tests to seal a comfortable two-minute win in difficult County Tyrone conditions.

Winner in Galway and West Cork, Ryan MacHugh, suffered a time-sapping puncture on stage two, dropping nearly three minutes to his rivals. The Donegal ace set five fastest times over the course of the rally to climb back up to second and ensure he retains the championship lead.

John O’Rourke and Kenneth Blanche completed the top three in their Opel Corsa Rally4.

Rally4 standings

1 Caldwell / Egan (Peugeot 208 Rally4) 1:22:50.7s

2 MacHugh / Boyle (Ford Fiesta Rally4) +2:12.7s

3 O’Rourke / Blanche (Opel Corsa Rally4) +5:13.3

McEvoy Motorsport Modified ITRC

Jason Black and Karl Egan survived a last-stage scare to take a 3.1-second modified victory over Mark Alcorn and Darren Curran’s Ford Escort Mk2.

David Moffett and Martin Connolly set the initial pace on stage one aboard their Toyota Starlet. Moffett fell down to fifth after stage two when his rivals received a nominal time due to a stage blockage.

Black went on to set three fastest two-wheel-drive times during his impressive drive, building a 29.6-second advantage over Alcorn with one stage to go. Alcorn’s hopes weren’t helped by a 10.4-second penalty received on the Circuit’s fifth stage when he made a false start at the beginning of the test.

A puncture on the Circuit’s final stage almost spoiled Black’s day, though, when the front-right tyre on his Toyota Starlet went flat with five kilometres to go.

The Armagh driver just about managed to hang onto his lead, finishing 3.1 seconds ahead of Alcorn.

Another local man, Damian Toner completed the modified pack’s top three. Toner claimed top McEvoy Motorsport Modified ITRC points which will help his title challenge after finished second on the West Cork Rally.

Conor Murphy finished a further 35 seconds back after picking up steering damage when he clipped a rock on stage two.

Top five standings

1 Black / Egan (Toyota Starlet) 1:16:37.3s

2 Alcorn / Curran (Ford Escort Mk2) +3.1s

3 Toner / Gallagher (Escort) +1:22.9

4 Murphy / Collins (Escort) +1:57.5

5 Tourish / McAlaney (Escort) +2:11.0

Sherwood Engines Historic ITRC

Wales’s Tomas and Eurig Davies brought their West Cork momentum up north to secure their second Irish Tarmac win of the year on Saturday’s Circuit of Ireland Rally.

The Ford Escort RS1800 duo won every single stage to seal an utterly dominant three-and-a-half-minute victory.

Andy Johnson and George McMillen held second over all eight stages in their Vauxhall Chevette, keeping last year’s winner Trevor Wilson at bay.

Wilson had a tricky day, he struggled to put his BMW M3’s power down on the gripless stages. A puncture and scare over a bridge on The Hollow dropped him behind Alan Jardine on stage five but the Armagh driver was able to regroup and seal third over the final tests.

Jardine had to settle for fourth while Jonni McDaid took an impressive fifth in his Talbot Samba.

Top five standings

1 Davies / Davies (Ford Escort RS1800) 1:22:24.5s

2 Johnson / McMillen (Vauxhall Chevette) +3:33.5s

3 Wilson / Mulholland (BMW M3) +4:26.2

4 Jardine / Knox (Escort RS1600) +5:04.1

5 McDaid / McGovern (Talbot Samba) +5:35.2

Complete Circuit of Ireland results


Photo by D Harrigan Images