Three wins and two runner-up finishes put Josh Moffett and Andy Hayes in prime place to seal their second Irish Tarmac Rally Championship title this 12 months.
However one way or the other, regardless of their steadfast supremacy, Moffett and Hayes nonetheless have greater than a bit to do to assert Eire’s final rallying honours.
This weekend’s Cork 20 Worldwide Rally is the sequence’ penultimate spherical and with three crews bidding to usurp the Hyundai i20 leaders, the 15-stage rally could possibly be 2022’s most enjoyable but.
Meirion Evans, Alastair Fisher, and Callum Devine lie over 25 factors behind Moffett in ITRC’s standings with two rounds to go. The championship’s requirement for crews to drop their two lowest scores and talent to attain double factors on its Ulster Rally finale, nevertheless, offers all three outsiders an opportunity to sneak a shock Tarmac title.
ITRC factors will likely be handed out to finishers after Ulster Rally’s first day of aggressive motion in the identical (17-14-12-10…) format as another spherical. The clocks will reset for ITRC crews on Saturday morning with one other likelihood to race for optimum factors.
Evans, Fisher, and Devine could have a shot at scoring 34 factors on the Ulster Rally, a much-needed tally of their chase of 2022 pacesetter Moffett.
So, how does that have an effect on the Cork 20 Rally which doesn’t have double-points for ITRC’s mainfield crews?
At present, after dropped scores are thought of only one level separates the trio of Volkswagen Polos piloted by Evans, Fisher, and Devine. Within the race between one another, it’s as shut as conceivable.
Secondly, all three should purpose for optimum factors if they’ve any hope of heading to Ulster with an opportunity of pipping Moffett to his second title of the 12 months.
The final purpose is probably probably the most fascinating.
To this point, Moffett hasn’t a low rating to his identify in 2022. In the meanwhile, his two runner-up finishes on the Circuit of Eire and Killarney’s Rally of the Lakes would be the rounds he drops, 14 factors apiece.
A ending place decrease than first is actually of no profit to Moffett’s Irish Tarmac marketing campaign as a result of he’ll find yourself dropping these factors anyway. The one place that may add to his present factors tally? First.
If Moffett secures his fourth ITRC win of the season this weekend, he can journey to Newry subsequent month with the data that hovering in third would safe his and Hayes’ second Irish Tarmac title.
If a Cork 20 win evades Moffett this weekend, he’ll should purpose for second on the Ulster to you’ll want to clinch the championship.
There you go, 4 crews in equally matched R5 vehicles with each purpose to chase victory in Cork. They don’t have anything to lose.
One would marvel how Cork could possibly be extra thrilling, thrilling, or dramatic as ITRC’s current rallies in Donegal, Killarney, and on the Circuit. Every had its personal twists and turns, spinning an Irish Tarmac story destined for a lofty place within the historical past books.
Now, with an Irish Tarmac title on the road, something can occur.
Cork 20 is the primary spherical of the Irish Tarmac Championship that came about in 2021. Devine will be defending his maiden international rally win. However bear in mind, Wales’ Evans was solely 2.5 seconds behind the Derryman after Cork’s sixth stage final 12 months.
Moffett’s present type is in stark distinction to his fourth-place end on the single-day rally final September. Fisher is the one contender who didn’t compete on final 12 months’s rally. His final go to to the Cork 20 was in 2017 however the Fermanagh driver has been on an upward trajectory of tempo all through 2022.
With modified, historic, and junior championships as shut as ever, Cork 20 appears to be like set to be a stirring chapter in an impressive 12 months of rallying in Eire.
So, what goes by way of Moffett’s three challengers heading into spherical six of the 2022 Irish Tarmac Rally Championship?
2nd general, 52 pts, 42 pts after dropped scores
“It’s fascinating how the championship factors are working,” began 2021’s Cork 20 runner-up. “After Donegal I used to be positive we’d solely have a really small likelihood of profitable it.
“The best way it’s now, it doesn’t matter what, we are going to go to the Ulster with an opportunity of profitable the title as a result of we now have received good scores behind us already.
“If Josh has a catastrophe on the Ulster and we now have a extremely good rally, it might change quite a bit.
“These two rallies ought to favour us greater than the final three or 4. Cork and the Ulster had been at all times two occasions we knew wanted to attain properly on if we had been to have any likelihood of a title.
“We’ve got had two seconds and a 3rd in Cork on our final three makes an attempt so it might be good to go one higher. The opposite three boys will make it very arduous however as at all times I’m actually wanting ahead to going rallying once more.”
third general, 47 pts, 41 pts after dropped scores
“We have to take high factors dwelling from Cork to proceed our championship hopes,” defined Fisher.
“It is important that we work arduous on our recce as we didn’t compete on the occasion final 12 months.
“Clearly, all three of us are chasing Josh so everybody will likely be on for an enormous push.”
4th general, 41 pts, 41 pts after dropped scores
“We want a win this weekend to attempt to maintain the championship alive,” declared defending Cork 20 winner. “That’s the lengthy and wanting it.
“That’s the purpose for Cork and hopefully it goes to plan.
“We had an excellent run final 12 months however the different boys have been on type this 12 months so little doubt it will likely be tight racing once more.
“There was a pleasant break since Donegal however now I’m wanting ahead to the rally.”
ITRC standings after R5/7
1 Josh Moffett – 79 factors
2 Meirion Evans – 52 pts
3 Alastair Fisher – 47
4 Callum Devine – 41
Standings after R5/7 (after 2x dropped scores)
1 Josh Moffett – 51 factors
2 Meirion Evans – 42 pts
3 Alastair Fisher – 41
4 Callum Devine – 41
Cork 20 Rally schedule:
SS1 Caherduggan 1 (11.72 km) – 10:10
SS2 Glentane 1 (12.65 km) – 10:39
SS3 Ballylusky 1 (13.97 km) – 11:08
SS4 Caherduggan 2 (11.72 km) – 12:45
SS5 Glentane 2 (12.65 km) – 13:14
SS6 Ballylusky 2 (13.97 km) – 13:43
SS7 Caherduggan 3 (11.72 km) – 15:20
SS8 Glentane 3 (12.65 km) – 15:49
SS9 Ballylusky 3 (13.97 km) – 16:18
SS10 Badgers Hill 1 (18.27 km) – 09:49
SS11 Chimneyfield 1 (19.99 km) – 10:27
SS12 Badgers Hill 2 (18.27 km) – 12:21
SS13 Chimneyfield 2 (19.99 km) – 12:59
SS14 Badgers Hill 3 (18.27 km) – 14:53
SS15 Chimneyfield 3 (19.99 km) – 15:31
Images by DHarrigan Photographs and Ruaidhri Nash