Motorsport Ireland National Rally Championship

Irish National Rally Championship Returns To Mayo

All roads lead to Ballina for the opening round of the Triton Showers Motorsport Ireland National Rally Championship

The Triton Showers Motorsport Ireland National Rally Championship makes a welcome return to County Mayo this weekend.

Event rotation rules mean it is two years since the Triton Showers series last visited the county. On that occasion, the Mayo Stages Rally was based in Claremorris, but it is all of eight years since the series was last headquartered in Ballina, the host town for this weekend’s action.

Leading the capacity 150-car entry is defending Triton Showers Motorsport Ireland National Rally Champions, Josh Moffett and Keith Moriarty.

Back in 2022 Monaghan’s Moffett and his Limerick co-driver Keith Moriarty took a start-to-finish victory on the McHugh’s Service Station Mayo Rally, in their Hyundai i20 R5. They have switched to  Citroen C3 Rally2 for the 2024 campaign and finished third on the Galway International Rally last month.

A notable absence is last year’s runners-up, Calum Devine and Noel O’Sullivan in their Volkswagen Polo R5. This opens the door for Desi Henry and his Scottish co-driver Stewart Loudon. Also, Citroen mounted, Henry made his Irish National Rally championship debut at the ALMC Rally in Oldcastle last August and promised at the time he would be back for more as the one-day format suited his work schedule.

Desi Henry became a frontrunner on the national scene last season, particularly at the ALMC Rally, where he finished second. He was right in the mix of the Galway Citroen battle last month and will be fighting hard for their share of the championship spoils at the end of Sunday’s eight stages.

Sam Moffett and James O'Reilly start at four in their usual Hyundai I20 R5, one place ahead of another Citroen driver and former triple champion Declan Boyle and his Welsh co-driver Patrick Walsh. Daniel Cronin and  Donnchadh Burke return for a second craic at the National title in their Volkswagen Polo GTI R5. Highlights last season included a third-place finish on their home Fastnet Rally and a win on the non-championship Wexford Rally. Michael Boyle and Dermot McCafferty start at six and will pilot the second Polo R5 in the top ten. A maiden podium is surely on the cars, this season, for the Donegal crew, after several top-five finishes in 2023.

Cork crew David Guest and Jonathan McGrath made sporadic National appearances last year in their Ford Fiesta Rally2. It is a busy period for the West Cork-based crew as their home international rally is just weeks after Mayo. Tommy Doyle and Liam Moynihan make sporadic National appearances in their Hyundai I20 R5 but when they do they are always in the mix and are certainly a crew to keep an eye on. The top ten is completed by two drivers who have made the switch from Ford Escort Mk2 power to four-wheel-drive machinery in recent times.

Defending Irish Tarmac Modified champions Eddie Doherty and Tom Murphy have entered in a Skoda Fabia R5 and  Gary Kiernan and John McCabe appear in the  Ford Fiesta R5 that they debuted in Galway last month.

MODIFIED RALLY

The section is headed by the Darrian T90 GTR of Kevin Gallagher and Ryan Moore. The defending champions put in some giant-killing performances last season, particularly on the faster and drier rallies. They will followed by quick Escort crews like Mark Alcorn /Darren O’Brien and  Damien Tourish / Domhnall McAlaney.

OTHER CONTENDERS

Paul Barrett and new co-driver  Darragh Kelly represent the championship sponsors in another Citroen C3 while two former champions, Tim McNulty – with Paddy Robinson on the notes and Niall Maguire and Conor Foley return to the series.The former will steer his right-hand drive Volkswagen Polo and Maguire joins the ever-increasing number of Citroen drivers; no doubt buoyed by the substantial prize fund laid on by the Citroën Racing C3 Rally2 Trophy Ireland This is the biggest addition to the 2024 Triton Showers National Rally Championship for 2024. This one-make championship will run within all rounds of the championship and is open to all drivers of Citroën C3 Rally2/C3 R5s running on Michelin Motorsport tyres. Prize money of €5,500 is up for grabs on each round of the series. The top 20 is completed by Jason Mitchell/Paddy McCrudden (VW Polo GTI R5), Aaron McLaughlin/Darren Curran (VW Polo GTI R5),  Frank Wray/Joe McNulty (Ford Fiesta) and Aidan Wray/ Niall Burns (VW Polo GTI R5).

NEW FOR 2024

The Mayo Stages Rally is the second round of the Motorsport Ireland Junior Rally series and the first one on tarmac , following last month’s Killarney Forestry Rally, and will present new challenges for the rising stars of Irish rallying.

Another big change is the junior’s nomination for the Billy Coleman Award,  it will move to Class 2 and with the large amount of  Peugeot 208 Rally4s and Ford Fiesta Rally4s now in the country, particularly among Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy drivers, this is sure to be one of the keenest fought classes in the whole series.

Some of the leading contenders for this category include  Craig Rahill/ Conor Smith (Ford Fiesta Rally4), Cian Caldwell/Liam Egan (Peugeot 208 Rally4), Dylan Eves /Ryan Farrell Ford Fiesta Rally4) and  Mossie Costello/ Megan Costello (Ford Fiesta Rally 4). Additionally, the class has been sub-divided and Class 2A will cater for the slightly older R2 machinery in the country. Class 16 competitors will still compete for the Dougie Hughes Junior Cup.

The nomination for the Billy Colemen Award will now come from the fastest competitor in either class 2 or 2A filling the age criteria in the National Championship

TOP LOCALS

The top all-local crew is that of John Warren and Ruthann O'Connor in their McHale-liveried Toyota Corolla Twin Cam. The current Class 13 national champions will be hoping to get their title defence off to a perfect start on home ground. Their main opposition will come from the Ford Escorts of Aidan Bourke and Pierce Doheny Jr and Dave Slattery and Denis Coffey. Brian Moore and Damien Doherty will be fighting for Class 11F honours in their Honda Civic.

DETAILS

The Mayo Rally gets underway with a ceremonial start in Ballina town centre on Saturday at 7 pm. Motorsport Ireland will launch its road safety mission and announce two new ‘Keep the Race in its Place’ ambassadors on the start ramp just ahead of the main opening event. The rally is based at  The Great National Hotel in Ballina and will start at 830 on Sunday morning. The first car is due at the finish ramp at 530pm on Sunday evening.

Triton Showers Motorsport Ireland National Championship Rounds 2024

1. Mayo Stages Rally 3rd March

2. Monaghan Stages Rally 7th April

3. Birr Stages Rally 21st April

4. Carlow Stages Rally 19th May

5. Circuit of Munster 2nd June

6. Stonethrowers Rally 14th July

7. Galway Summer Stages 1st September

8. Donegal Harvest Rally 12th October

External Credits:

Motorsport Ireland National Rally Championship

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