Moffett Wins in Monaghan!


Images courtesy Fergus McAnallen

When Sam Moffett and co-driver James O’Reilly brought their McKinstry hired S14 specification Subaru Impreza WRC over the finish ramp as winners of the Hillgrove Hotel Monaghan Stages Rally on Sunday, it was the climax of what had been a very fraught 48 hours for the crew…

The fraught journey to contest the Monaghan Stages Rally started one week earlier when the crew crossed the finish line of the Willie Loughman Memorial Rally in sixth position. They achieved the result in Moffett’s own Mitsubishi Lancer, and with the forestry rally safely completed, they planned to take the same car to last weekend’s tarmac event.

The local crew had scored a hat-trick of production category wins in Monaghan since 2010 and were going to be in the hunt for their fourth success this year, but as it transpired, another Group N success was out of the question…

After a huge effort during the week by chief mechanic Gerry McGarrity, who converted the car from gravel specification to tarmac specification, a late Friday evening test session saw the Mitsubishi’s engine cry ‘enough’. Suddenly, it seemed as though their rally was over before it had even started.

“It was about 6pm when it happened,” Moffett told The Sun. “A piston cracked and there was pretty much nothing that could be done in time for the rally.”

There were frantic efforts behind the scenes which resulted in a late night call to the Banbridge based McKinstry Motorsport stable, and a last minute deal was struck to hire an S14 specification Subaru Impreza WRC.

“It must have been around 9 or 10pm when Gerry (McGarrity) called Kenny,” Moffett said. “It was a long shot at that stage but it turned out the car was more or less ready to go.”

“On Saturday, we finished our recce of the stages at around 3pm. Then we did a short test in the car. It was my first time in a World Rally Car but I was very impressed by the handling and the power.”

“I thought that whatever the Evo could take flat out, this car could take flat out,” he added.

Safely settled into the car, Sam had suddenly transformed from a Group N contender into a hot favourite for the outright rally victory. When the rally started on Sunday, he bedded himself in with fourth fastest time.

From there, he gradually climbed the order, eventually moving to the top of the leaderboard after stage five. The local crew stayed there until the finish, going on to claim what was a popular rally victory.

Image courtesy Fergus McAnallen

Image courtesy Fergus McAnallen

“We had a few moments during the event,” Moffett said afterwards. “We dented the back door and hit the same hedge that Daniel McKenna hit hard right after me. But it is a great car, it handles very well. Even at the end of the day we still weren’t using the brakes to their full potential. Hopefully you might see me out in the car again some time!”

In the end, Moffett’s winning margin was one minute over the Impreza WRC belonging to Niall Maguire and Enda Sherry, with Daragh O’Riordan and Tony McDaid taking their Fiesta WRC to third overall.


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