RETURNING to the Triton National Rally Championship for the first time since 2019, next year’s Westlodge Hotel Fastnet Rally (October 29th) is one of four rounds of the series that will take place in Munster.
Also included are the Tralee-based Circuit of Kerry, the Raven’s Rock Rally in Waterford and the Clare Rally – the four events represent half of the 2023 series, a factor that should provide a strong incentive for Munster-based competitors.
At the recent Fastnet Rally 40th celebration night at the West Cork Hotel in Skibbereen, Ballylickey’s Daniel Cronin (VW Polo GTi R5) signalled his intentions to concentrate on rounds of the Triton series as opposed to a full season in the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship. In addition, Dunmanway’s David Guest (Ford Fiesta Rally2) is also making plans to contest the national series that begins with the Longford-based Midland Rally on March 5th next.
The series will again be underpinned by Triton Showers, who began their sponsorship of the championship back in 2015, replacing long-time sponsor Dunlop.
A two-year template was introduced in 2015 with 16 events rotating national championship status on a biennial calendar. However, for the 2022/2023 seasons and based on the principle of reducing the number of rallies in a given year, it was agreed that events on the ‘opt-out year’ from the national series would ‘drop’ their event for the year they were not in the championship. Hence the reason that this year’s Fastnet Rally didn’t run. The rounds that had championship status for 2022 will ‘drop out’ next year.
Being the last round of the series isn’t always a guarantee of success in terms of numbers. In fact, it’s more often the case that the overall award and many of the various classes are already decided prior to the final round, even though there are an extra two points on offer.
The last time the overall title for the national rally championship was decided on the Fastnet Rally was in 2009 when Cavan’s Patrick Elliott and his co-driver Paul Goodman (Subaru WRC) clinched the series at the West Cork Hotel-based event. The last time the series was decided on the final round itself was in 2014 when Donegal’s Declan Boyle took his second national title on his home event. In recent years the series was clinched much earlier in the year.
With the series based on the best six scores from eight events, Monaghan’s Josh Moffett (Hyundai i20 R5) and his Limerick co-driver Keith Moriarty wrapped up the series at the sixth round, the Clonmel-based Tipperary Stonethrowers Rally last July. They received their awards at the presentation ceremony at the Sheraton Hotel, Athlone on Saturday night last.
Meanwhile, Fastnet Rally clerk of the course James Kingston said, ‘It’s great to have the Triton series back again. Being a round of the national championship is, and indeed should be, a boost for any club. Hopefully, the title will come down to the wire in Bantry, it’s been a long time since the overall award was decided on the Fastnet.
‘National championship status increases the prospect of having a varied entry. In addition, the club also welcomes back the Top Part West Coast Rally Championship and that too will open the rally to a different pool of competitors. We will continue to be a round of the Southern 4 Rally Championship. All of that, together with the fact that the Fastnet is the only tarmac rally in October gives us a realistic opportunity of attracting the best possible entry.’
The 2023 Triton Showers National Rally Championship will consist of the following events: 1. Midland Rally (March 5th); 2. Circuit of Kerry (April 2nd); 3. Cavan Rally (May 28th); 4. Raven’s Rock (Waterford) Rally (July 2nd); 5. Sligo Rally (July 16th); 6. ALMC Rally (Oldcastle) (August 13th); 7. Clare Rally (September 24th); 8. Fastnet Rally (October 29th).