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Monday 20 November 2017

Maguire keeps foot to floor

Monaghan man driven to succeed as Dunlop series hits vital stage

CHAMPIONSHIP leader Niall Maguire will be trying to keep up his winning momentum as the Dunlop series reaches the halfway stage at Cavan on Sunday.

The Monaghan triple champion, who broke his duck winning his home event last month, is the only one of the top runners to score in all rounds to-date.

His consistency may be a disadvantage later in the series as only eight of the 10 rounds count towards the title. Also, if he continues scoring on each round he will have to drop his two lowest scores, whereas Derek McGarrity, Melvyn Evans and Kevin Barrett each have at least one non-finish for which they will lose zero points.

Tim McNulty is second seed in Cavan behind Maguire but he is using the event as a shakedown for the Donegal international next month and will not be bothering the championship front runners.

Welsh visitor Melvyn Evans has two victories -- Nenagh and Mayo -- to his credit while McGarrity won the Circuit of Kerry. Kevin Barrett is unfortunate in that despite leading two events and losing one -- the Kerry round -- on a tie-break to McGarrity, he has yet to record a win this year.

Sam Moffett's performance at Monaghan showed why he is the one to watch in the battle for Group N honours.

The youngster took an impressive 17 seconds off Danny McBride over the final two stages to take category honours and with it the driver of the day award.

He lines up against Gary Jennings, Danny McBride, Sean Flanagan and Trevor Bustard and it would not be a surprise to see him top the category again on Sunday.

The most spectacular show will come from the modified category, which features quality and quantity headed by Daniel McKenna. The Monaghan man faces Rodney Wilton, Manus Kelly, Declan Boyle, Russell Woods, Adrian Hetherington, Trevor Mulligan, Gordon Rogers, Mervyn Wedlock, Raymond Drury and Thomas McGovern -- all in Escorts -- and Lloyd Hutchinson (Mini) and Raymond Conlon (Starlet).

p Irish drivers are making a big impression on the British rallying scene this year with young Irish drivers filling six of the top nine spots on the Jim Clark entry list. Irish drivers account for nearly one-third of entry for the only Kelso-based Scottish round of the British championship.

Main interest will centre on Keith Cronin and Gwyndaf Evans as they renew their battle for championship glory, but Craig Breen and Alistair Fisher will be close at hand ready to swoop should either hit a problem. Cronin will have his regular Pirelli-backed Subaru N15 while Evans will be in the right-hand drive EvoX used in last year's championship as the left-hand drive car he drove to victory on the Pirelli is in Sardinia for PG Andersson to drive on the IRC round in eight days' time.

In keeping with the high profile of Irish drivers in the UK, three of the four Evo Challenge entries are Irish drivers.

Jonny Greer will be looking for his third win in the series while Alistair Fisher will be hoping to kick off his campaign after retiring when well placed from the opening two rounds. With wins in Galway and Killarney, Robert Barrable should have amassed enough tarmac experience to take maximum Citroen Racing points to consolidate his lead in the series.

However, he faces tough opponents in Mark Donnelly and Luke Pinder.

p Irish co-drivers will see world rally championship action in Portugal when they co-drive the three Team Abu Dhabi drivers who are contesting the second round of the international Fiesta Sport Trophy this weekend. Mayo professional Killian Duffy will co-drive Sultan Al Ameri while Ulster duo Allan Harryman and Stephen McAuley will sit with Majed Al Shamsi and Bader Al Jabri respectively.

Craig Breen leads the champion-ship after the opening round in Turkey but will miss this round because of his British championship commitments in Scotland.

p Cork MC is joined by Cork City Council in bringing motor sport to the masses in the Munster capital this weekend with a rallysprint at the Cork City Civic Amenity Centre on South Link Road on Sunday.

Rallycross champion Tommy Graham will have his 4wd Fiesta while Brian O'Mahony will be out in a Metro 6R4 and Tarmac Group N champion Ger O'Donovan is also listed.

Both Keith Cronin and Owen Murphy expect to be back from Scotland in time to compete on their home patch on Sunday.

p Cathal Curley, Dessie McCartney, Fred Patterson, Hugh O'Brien and Mervyn Johnston -- successful club stalwarts from the '70s and '80s -- will compete at Gortin (Co Tyrone) hillclimb as the Omagh club celebrates its 75th anniversary on Saturday.

p The combined Porsche and Supercar class will provide plenty of spectacle and noise as they pay their first visit to Kirkistown on Saturday.

It is not the only southern class travelling north as three single-seater classes -- Sheane, Libre and Vee -- join local classes in a packed programme.

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