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Motorsport Ireland National Rally Championship

Doherty Climbs Into Championship Lead

The Triton Showers Motorsport Ireland National Rally Championship has a new leader after Sunday’s Lyons Motor Group Circuit of Munster Stages Rally. After eight demanding stages in the West Limerick area, Eddie Doherty and local co-driver Tom Murphy head the points table. The Circuit of Munster was the fifth of eight rounds and the Skoda Fabia R5 crew finished second overall. The result propelled them to the top of the leaderboard of the National Rally Championship.

Rally winner Callum Devine and stand-in co-driver John Rowan took a start-to-finish win.  The Volkswagen Polo R5 Gti crew were not registered for the championship so second-placed Doherty and Murphy took maximum points. The appearance of Devine, the championship’s runner-up last season, added extra spice to an already exciting series. The Derry man is concentrating on the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship this year and he dictated the pace from the word go. It forced the championship regulars to up their game and Doherty certainly showed why his first National win cannot be far away.

Doherty heads into round six -The Stonethrowers Rally – with 72 points but has already counted his dropped score after a non-start in Birr. For local co-driver Murphy it was a special occasion. “I drive many of these roads every day in a tractor at 40km/h and to go down them today at 140km/h was special,” he said. “To think at the start of the year we would be leading the championship after my home rally, all my family are here, it was a tough week as we lost someone during the week, I am lost for words really.”

Michael Boyle and Dermot McCafferty recorded a career-best, third-place finish in Limerick. Driving another Volkswagen Polo, the Donegal crew really upped their pace over the final loop and climbed from fourth place to third to record their first-ever podium finish.

Daniel Cronin and Donnchadh Burke admitted that they were just not driving fast enough, particularly over the middle loop. Driving another Volkswagen Polo, they arrived into the second service halt of the day in fifth place but set a blistering place over the final three stages to take fourth place. The Carlow Rally winners are now second in the championship, just one point adrift of Doherty and Murphy and like their main championship rivals, they too have counted their dropped score after a non-finish in Monaghan.

Defending champions Josh Moffett and Keith Moriarty had a subdued day at the office. Never really on the overall pace, they hovered between third and fourth place all day. The Citroen C3 Rally2 crew were overtaken by the flying Boyle and Cronin on the last loop but did take top award in the Citroen Trophy category. They slot into fifth place in the title race.

Gary Kiernan’s seventh-place finish ensures he is one place ahead of Moffett in the standings and was delighted the pop-off valve issue that hampered the last three rallies is now solved.

The Hyundai i20 Rally2 of Sam Moffett and James O’Reilly led the way ahead of Limerick but the winners in Mayo in March, did not start the Circuit of Munster and have now dropped to joint third place along with Kiernan.

David Kelly returned to the championship trail at the weekend. Another driver following the ITRC this year, the Volkswagen Polo GTi R5 pilot finished sixth in Limerick to add to their third overall on the Birr Rally in April.

Stuart Darcy and JJ Cremin completed their pre-Donegal International Rally preparations by taking ninth and the fifth of six VW Polos in the top ten.

The top ten was completed by Jason Mitchell and Paddy McCrudden but the Polo pilot was suffering from flu-like symptoms all day and was not able to match his third-place finish on the Tour of the Sperrins recently.

Local hero Chris O’Callaghan and co-driver Kaine Treanor won the Modified Rally. He had to use his father Ed’s Escort after he crashed his own one in Carlow a few weeks ago. “This car won the Modified Circuit of Munster in the hands of my father two years ago and I drove my first rally in it,” he said at the finish.

Rob Duggan on his first outing since winning the Killarney Historic Rally last year was second with co-driver Kieran O’Donoghue on the notes for the first time. Ed Synan and Gary Gallagher were third making it an all-Ford Escort Mk2 top three.

Craig Rahill won the all-important Class 2 in his Ford Fiesta Rally4. He and co-driver Conor Smith enjoyed a rally-long battle with fellow Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy crew Keelan Grogan and Ayrton Sherlock with the Peugeot 208 Rally4 driver finishing just 2.4 seconds behind.

Local brothers Maurice Meskell and Stephen Meskell won the Historic rally in their Ford Escort MKl while the Honda Civic of Jordan Jervis and James McBrearty topped the Junior Rally time sheets.

External Credits:

Motorsport Ireland


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