Josh Moffett has one hand on the Irish Tarmac Championship title

All eyes will be on Josh Moffett at this weekend’s Modern Tyres Ulster Rally as he aims to wrap up the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship title for a second time after seven hard-fought events.

A winner of the title in 2018, the Monaghan man will be assured of glory for a second time if he ends either the Friday or Saturday leg of the Ulster as the highest-placed points scoring driver.

However, given his pace and consistency in what has been a remarkable year for Moffett so far, few would bet against him making it victory number five in the cross-border series. Already, he has won February’s Galway International Rally, the West Cork Rally over St Patrick’s weekend, June’s three-day Donegal International and July’s Cork ‘20’ International. He has also earned consecutive runner-up results at the Circuit of Ireland and Killarney International rallies.

It means he enjoys a sizeable 32-point lead over Meirion Evans in second place – the only one who can deny him the crown at the Newry-based meeting. For that to happen, the Welshman – at the controls of a Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 – must claim maximum points on both days of the Tarmac classic and hope that Moffett’s Hyundai i20 R5 hits trouble – or finishes fifth or lower at the end of Friday and again on Saturday.

A four-horse race for the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship crown has been whittled down to two as Claudy’s Callum Devine has opted to miss the Northern Ireland Motor Club showpiece after failing to bank the second victory of 2022 he so desperately needed on last month’s Cork  ’20’ International.

Another non-starter is Alastair Fisher – the nephew of four-time Ulster Rally winner, Bertie. His title prospects were snuffed out early on the final day of the Cork ‘20’ International while leading when he damaged the suspension on his Modern Tyres liveried Volkswagen Polo. “We won’t be competing this time around,” he confirmed. “Of course, we’re disappointed not to be supporting the event on this occasion.”

Other standout Rally2/R5 drivers include reigning Northern Ireland champion Jonathan Greer (Citroen C3 Rally2) and former Northern Ireland Rally champion Stuart Biggerstaff (Ford Fiesta R5), multiple rally winner Desi Henry (Ford Fiesta Rally2) and the experienced Alan Carmichael (Hyundai i20 R5).

The Irish Tarmac Rally Championship’s Rally4, Modified and Historic titles will also be decided on the Modern Tyres Ulster Rally. The Junior trophy’s already been settled in Ryan MacHugh’s favour after he completed the penultimate counter in Cork despite fuel distributor issues dropping him to the back of the field. He persevered, however, and went on to score the points he needed to get the title over the line.

The 2022 Ulster Rally begins with a ceremonial start at Modern Tyres’ state-of-the-art facility in Newry’s Carnbane Industrial Estate, with the same location hosting the post-rally celebrations. This will also be the venue for the service park where fans of all ages can see the cars up close.

Spectators will have further opportunities to look around the cars, and meet the drivers and co-drivers at rally regroups in Banbridge town centre on Friday, August 19 at 6.30pm and again at Armagh City Hotel car park from 11.45 the following morning.

Those wishing to follow the action on both days will be able to do so by visiting the Ulster Rally website (www.ulsterrally.co.uk) or Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/ulsterrally). Results and commentary will also form part of the live action across the weekend.

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