By Ivan Hurley
Josh Moffett and navigator Keith Moriarty have taken the top step of the podium at today’s 44th edition of the Rose Hotel Circuit of Kerry Rally and in doing so has drawn level on at the top of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship standings with today’s runner up Callum Devine.
It wasn’t to be for Kerry Motor Club navigator Noel O Sullivan, he and Callum held second place throughout the day and couldn’t find the precious seconds they needed across the 9 fantastic stages.
With a dusting of frost and blue skies the crews left Parc Ferme for the opening loop of the 3 classic stages; Mount Eagle, Headley’s Bridge and the shortened Desmond’s Grave test. A flying start by Moffett meant he lead by 3.4 after the opening test, extending his lead to 7.9 over Devine/O’Sullivan as the crews made their way into the morning service halt. Callum complained of set up and brake issues throughout the morning but in a short loop of stages, Josh was building what proved to be an unassailable lead.
There was a ding-dong battle for 3rd place all day. The sunny and warm conditions brought the RWD contenders into the mix. Donegal’s Kevin Gallagher held his 3rd place position at the morning layover. Daniel Barry in the Fabia R5 was just 4.2 seconds back with Mark Alcorn in the Mark II Escort still in the hunt and 5.3 off 4th position.
As the temperature heated up, so did the battle between the crews. Callum said the setup felt better on the second loop but dropped a further 1.3 to the leader on SS4. A first stage win of the day for Devine came on the second running of Headley’s bridge, taking 0.6 off Moffett in the classic test. Just 0.2 seconds separated the pair on Desmond’s Grave but Moffett led by 8.8 as the crews returned to the service park for the final time. Gallagher in the Darrian extended his lead to 5.5 with 3 stages remaining. It was Alcorn making the moves, closing his deficit to 4th and trailing Daniel Barry by just 1.4 after 6 stages.
Josh Moffett and Keith Moriarty won both stage 7 and 8 to lead by 10.1 going into the final stage shootout over Desmond’s Grave. Callum did pull back some 3.6 seconds in the 7km test but the rally win deservedly went to the Monaghan/Limerick pairing, winning in the end by 6.6 seconds. Kevin Gallagher held onto his podium place by 13.6 seconds despite a late spin. Alcorn had overtaken Barry on stage 8 but a spin in the final stage meant Barry went on to claim 4th place.
Historic honours went the way of UK crew Paul McDevitt and Ray Fitzpatrick in the Ford Escort by almost 3 minutes. Welsh pairing Gwyndaf Evans and Jordan Jones were second with Ian Davies and Gwynfor Jones rounding out the podium and meaning all historic honours were crossing the Irish Sea.
Junior honours went the way of Kerry crew Jamie O Rourke and Patrick Brislane in the Honda Civic. Monaghan’s Jack McKenna/Damian Doherty were second, just 6.2 seconds off the pace, while in third was Limericks John Michael Kennelly and Kerry man John Fleming.
2023 Rose Hotel Circuit of Kerry Top 10
Kerry Competitors in BOLD
1. Josh Moffett/Keith Moriarty 46:22.0
2. Callum Devine/Noel O’Sullivan +0:06.5
3. Kevin Gallagher/Ryan Moore +1:01.8
4. Daniel Barry/Lorcan Moore +1:15.4
5. Mark Alcorn/Domhnall McAleney +1:21.4
6. Richard Moffett/Darragh Kelly +1:53.0
7. Daniel Cronin/Donnchadh Burke +2:09.9
8. Andrew Purcell/Shane Buckley +2:11.9
9. Chris O’Callaghan/Dale McGettigan +2:15.1
10.Michael Boyle/Dermot McCafferty +2:49.2
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