The Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Rally Championship has reached the halfway point with three of the six rounds completed. Sam Moffett & Karl Atkinson lead the way on 43 points following their dramatic Killarney win and are the only crew to have finished in the top three points positions on each of the events so far. Despite lying in third place overnight on the Rally of the Lakes they set a string of fastest times to overhaul Robert Barrable and when rally leader Roy White hit a chicane and retired they took full advantage. With Donegal next up Sam has every right to feel confident about his chances as it’s an event he has won in the past and another good result will put him in with a great chance of improving on last season’s runner up position in the championship.
Second in the championship on 32.5 points are Alastair Fisher and Gordon Noble and having gone off on the opening day on the Ardgroom stage, they re-joined under Rally 2 for the second day to try and salvage some points. However the retirement rate on the event was very low and they finished a lowly 19th overall which cost them the championship lead in the process. With the five best scores to count from the six rallies, Fishers margin for error from here on in has been drastically reduced. He will be hoping for better luck in Donegal to keep the pressure on Sam Moffett.
Joe McGonigle in third place on 27 has been getting quicker as he acclimatises to his new Skoda R5 and has finished fifth and fourth on the last two rounds to make ground at the expense of his rivals. The next round in Donegal is a home rally for Joe and he will be hoping to take advantage and maintain his consistent form. Robert Barrable & Damien Connolly have been a revelation in their Hyundai i20 R5 with Rob getting quicker with each passing rally. An overshoot a few stages from the end cost him a possible shootout for a win in Killarney but second place still brought a handy batch of points following the disappointment of a late retirement in West Cork. Josh Moffett in fifth place didn’t start Killarney due to the damage caused to his Fiesta during his Monaghan accident, but still has the speed and talent to take the fight to the rivals above him.
Stephen Wright in sixth place on 22 points has also increased his speed over the past few events and was another to bounce back in Killarney after suffering a late retirement in West Cork. The Monaghan driver has upped his pace from last year and is starting to punch in regular top four times now. Brendan Cumiskey is another driver getting used to a new car, in this case it’s a Skoda R5 and he has been getting quicker on each round as he has three finishes to his name from the three rounds started. Tomas Davies from Wales really struggled with the change to a Fiesta R5 last year, but undaunted he came back for more this year and has been rewarded with a couple of fine results in West Cork and Killarney as he finally gets to grips with the car.
Aaron MacHale in ninth place changed to a Citroen this year and has improved his stage times although an accident in Galway and a puncture in West Cork meant his points tally is a lowly twelve so far this season. As his seat time in the car increases he will move up the championship order. Rounding off the top ten is Joe Connolly in the Red Mills Fiesta R5 on 10.5 points with a solid performance in Galway and Killarney in particular and is more used to the car this season.
The #ITRC 2 championship sees William Mavitty from Fermanagh leading the way in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 on 34.5 points following two good results on the last two rounds. Jer O’Donovan from Bantry is second in his Subaru having only contested West Cork and Killarney to date, and taking maximum points in the former event. Gavin Kelly didn’t compete on the first two rounds but took an impressive category win in Killarney to take maximum points with his home rally next on the list.
The #ITRC 3 championship is being led by Andrew Burke in his Citroen DS3 R3 despite not competing on the Rally of the Lakes. Burke holds a three point advantage over James Wilson in a Fiesta R2 with William Creighton and John Mulholland tied for third place on 17 points.