Daragh O’Riordan & Tony McDaid took a record breaking fourth consecutive win on the AceSigns Cork 20 International Rally based in Millstreet this weekend. The event which was the final round of the 2014 Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Rally Championship saw O’Riordan win by a margin of over a minute from a hard charging Keith Cronin / Marshall Clarke in second place who were debuting their Citroen DS3 R5 car.
With the championship already won by the non-competing Declan & Brian Boyle in their Subaru Impreza WRC, second place was up for grabs between Monaghan siblings Sam and Josh Moffett in their Fiesta WRC and Mitsubishi Lancer respectively. Josh also had the not so small matter of the Group N championship to deal with and he was just a point ahead of Stephen McCann heading into the final round. The other two championship categories were also about to be decided, with the Modified Championship between the Starlet of Declan Gallagher / Ryan Moore and Escort of Wesley Patterson / Johnny Baird and the Historic Championship between Denis Moynihan and Andy Johnson, with Aidan O’Connor waiting if the other two were to fail to finish.
Heavy overnight rain made conditions extremely difficult on the opening stages with some standing water in places. Cronin belied his lack of experience in the new car with a superb time to lead O’Riordan after the first stage by 8 seconds, but Sam Moffett lost a lot of time when he had steering problems in his Fiesta WRC and was facing a battle to stay in touch before the problem could be sorted out in service. The group N championship was decided on the first stage when Stephen McCann went off the road and blocked the road causing and the stage was eventually cancelled. This made Josh Moffett the new Group N champion after coming so close last year, and he was also lying fourth overall and with championship pressure now off he could now challenge for overall honours in the rally.
The second stage saw the Modified Championship decided as Wesley Patterson was forced to retire at the end of the stage after damage caused by a time consuming excursion. He had been six seconds quicker than Gallagher on the first stage but his retirement mean that the Starlet driver could no longer be caught. Denis Moynihan had gone into an early lead in the Historic section but Andy Johnson continued to keep the pressure on knowing any slip up from the Cork driver would leave him with the championship.
Over the course of the day O’Riordan kept the pressure on, really making the fast sections tell on each stage where Cronin’s Citroen was at a severe disadvantage while Sam Moffett also was closing in on second place. Josh Moffett held fourth place as he was now freed of the Group N championship shackles and was going really well. By the end of the first day O’Riordan held a lead of 36.9 seconds over Cronin as Sam Moffett was forced into retirement on the final stage of the day with a broken driveshaft. This moved Josh Moffett up to third overall with Stephen Wright and Callum Devine making up the top five overnight as despite some heavy showers, road conditions had improved as the day wore on. The Modified Championship saw Gallagher lead by over 90 seconds from Cal McCarthy’s Honda Civic with the Corolla WRC off Martin Donnelly holding third place overnight. The Historic Championship was still up for grabs but Moynihan’s lead was now out to 36 seconds over Johnson with O’Connor almost three minutes back in third place.
The second day saw changeable weather conditions, but much faster stages and O’Riordan used these to his advantage to power into a lead of almost 1 minute by the eleventh stage with Cronin giving all he had but unable to overcome the power deficit. Josh Moffetts rally ended on the first stage of the day, Caherbarnagh, when he went off the road leaving Stephen Wright in a superb third place in his Peugeot 208 R2. For the remainder of the event O’Riordan pulled further clear and by the end of the rally he was in the lead by just under four minutes from Cronin. Stephen Wright took a fantastic third place overall with Callum Devine in fourth and Brian O’Keeffe finishing in fifth.
The top three in the national rally were all registered championship contenders with Declan Gallagher capping off a fantastic year in fine style by taking his fourth Modified win of the year and a much deserved title. Cal McCarthy and Martin Donnelly rounded off the top three in the national rally and the top three Modifieds would have finished third, fifth and seventh overall respectively when the times of both the international and national rallies were combined. The Historic championship was won by Denis Moynihan in his Escort Mk1 after he took an impressive victory by 2 minutes and 20 seconds from closest rival Andy Johnson in a Vauxhall Chevette.
At the end of an exciting and sometimes dramatic Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Rally Championship the major awards went to Donegal (Boyle overall, Gallagher Modified), Monaghan (Josh Moffett Gp N) and Cork (Moynihan Historic). There won’t be long to go now until the first event of the 2015 season comes around in the shape of the Killarney Historic Rally which takes place on the 29th of November next.
Provisional Tarmac Championship Top 3 overall
1 – Declan Boyle 93
2 – Garry Jennings 57
3 – Josh Moffett 51.5
Provisional Group N Championship overall
1 – Josh Moffett 90
2 – Stephen McCann 86
3 – Eugene Meegan 41
Provisional Modified Championship Overall
1 – Declan Gallagher 72
2 – Wesley Patterson 47
3 – Martin Donnelly / Mark Nangle 30
Provisional Historic Championship Overall
1 – Denis Moynihan 70.5
2 – Andy Johnson 64
3 – Aidan O’Connor 45
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