Cathan McCourt made winning last weekend’s Donegal Forestry look easy. Of course, it is never easy, but Cathan, with Barry McNulty co-driving in their Fiesta, got the hammer down from the word go and was never headed.
The stages were difficult, jumpy with lots of rocks on the sides, but McCourt made light work of it. Niall McCullagh/Ryan McCloskey (Mitsubishi) finished 2nd and Conor McCourt/Caolan McKenna (Fiesta R5) were 3rd.
In the standings for the Valvoline Forestry series, this result moves Cathan McCourt up to within 1 point of Michael Carbin, who finished 5th on the day, one place behind Joe Hegarty, who is also in the Championship running.
David Crossen & Aileen Kelly – Photo by Clifford Media
Co. Down driver, David Crossen and his Co. Cork co-driver, Aileen Kelly, were a brilliant 6th in their Mk2 Escort, best of the two wheel contenders. There was always a worry over the crests and jumps in the stages, but David remarked that he didn’t really slow for any of them. There was just one concerned him, where in stage 2 the road went a bit left after the jump, and then down to a chicane. “Overall it was a good rally. We pushed hard over the first three stages then were able to ease off in the 2nd half. I think Shane McGirr, John Gordon and Mickey Conlon lost a bit of time with punctures and an excursion.”
In the final analysis it was Gary Kiernan who finished 2nd ‘two wheel drive’, 10th o/a. Derek Mackarel was a remarkable 11th o/a, Adrian Hetherington 12th and William Creighton 13th. Derek Mackarel was best junior and won class 16A in his Nova, while William Creighton took the honours in class 2 with his Peugeot 208 R2. In a role reversal, Brian Brady who often co-drives for Gary McNamee did the driving this time, with Gary co-driving in a class 16 Civic, and won his class!
David Bogie with Co Antrim co-driver John Rowan grabbed a narrow win over old SRC sparring partner Thorburn Image: Eddie Kelly
Meanwhile, just ‘over the water’, David Bogie and his NI co-driver John Rowan clinched victory on the RSAC Scottish Rally. Bogie was driving his Skoda R5 and finished 6 seconds ahead of Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton (Focus WRC) following 70 km of stages in the Dumfries & Galloway region. Thorburn did indulge in an overshoot and spin, which might have made a difference to the result. But ‘might and maybe’ are pretty superfluous words in rallying – David Bogie won! Garry Pearson/ Dale Bowen were 3rd in their Fiesta R5. Paul McErlean/Niall McKenna also made the trip and scored a decent class result in their Mk2 Escort.
Attention swings now to this weekend’s Cavan Rally, and what an event it promises to be. CoC Stephen Kellett’s stage layout consists of superbly technical, challenging roads. It should prove a really suitable arena for a Donegal ‘warm up’ for the top drivers and their cars. The rally, not a round this time of the Triton Showers National Championship, but is a round of the Border series, has a great entry: perhaps for a few the ‘raison d’etre to be there, is as a warm up for Donegal.
Declan Boyle heads the list in his Fiesta: perhaps the R5. Sam Moffett is at 2, this time reportedly in the family Fiesta WRC. Garry Jennings is at 3 in his Subaru WRC. Desi Henry has upgraded to an ex-Henning Solberg Fiesta WRC and starts at 4. As we mentioned last week Joe McGonigle is trying a Fiesta WRC and he is at 5. Fresh from winning the Donegal Forestry Cathan McCourt is at 6, but he switches from his Fiesta to his May Day Stages winning Subaru Impreza WRC S14. Stephen McCann, Aidan Wray, Frank Wray and Declan McCrory, all in 4wd machinery, make up the top 10. The 2 wheel drive entry is pretty spectacular also. Chris Armstrong is the top Escort seed then it is Gary Kiernan, Gary McPhillips and David Bogie, fresh from winning the Scottish. Mixed in there is Declan Gallagher in his Starlet. And there are lots more. All stirring stuff!
Regards: Brian & Liz Patterson: Plus Michael Patterson and Paul McAuley
Hiccups there are aplenty in rallying. On the WRC events they are possibly bigger and more public. This time it all went right for Toyota Yaris driver Ott Tanak and his co-driver Martin Jarveoja as they took the rally victory and maximum power stage points, while Neuville had a big time hiccup in his quest to hold his WRC points lead. On the previous two events Tanak’s Yaris was sidelined by niggly mechanical problems. Not so this time, Tanak and his Yaris were more or less perfect. World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier drove his Citroen almost over the limit to take 2nd place. While Sebastien Loeb, whose intriguing pace notes often include the instruction ‘plus plus’ who was on his first gravel outing in a Hyundai, was breathtakingly brilliant as he settled down to his i20.
“Flat out with the Choke Out” was an expression that Ott Tanak picked up from one of the Northern Ireland rally men when he was with M-Sport and his Fiesta WRC was fitted with D-Mack tyres. On this Rally Chile, in sometimes foggy and wet conditions, over very fast ‘shiny’ roads, Ott was stunningly fast. Last season he was tipped as a future World Rally Champion. That aspiration seemed to be fading fast over the last couple of rallies, but on these Chile stages, which were new to all the WRC drivers, the Estonian had the look of a driver not to be denied. Behind the top three, Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin did a sterling job for M-Sport to take 4th place – a really excellent drive. Teemu Sunninen in the 2nd M-Sport Fiesta had a few dramas on the slippy surfaces, but still 5th was a good result. Esapekka Lappi in the 2nd Citroen rounded off the top half dozen.
Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville is confident of rebounding from his huge Rally Chile crash immediately to fight for a World Rally Championship victory at the next round in Portugal
One of the biggest stories of the rally, an unfortunate one, was the retirement of Thierry Neuville and his co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul when their Hyundai barrel-rolled. Thank goodness they were only badly shaken, not seriously hurt. Thierry’s WRC points lead also took a tumble, but he is still definitely in the hunt. Latvala was only a second or two ahead of Neuville on the Saturday morning, in 3rd place, when the Neuville Hyundai crashed out. Then on Saturday afternoon Latvala was relegated off the leaderboard into Rally 2 when his Yaris sustained a broken driveshaft when it ran over a rock.
Kris Meeke battled on without a windscreen after a slow speed roll on the Saturday of Rally Chile. A further 1 min penalty after the rally dropped him back to 10th after the crew removed the damaged screen in a control area.
Kris Meeke and co-driver Sebastian Marshall was another crew to have a tough time. Kris was joint leader with Latvala on the opening stage, but then lost a few seconds in the mud and rain on the Friday. However he was still well in contention starting the Saturday leg until his Yaris ran wide on a corner and upended into the bushes. Kris and Seb were able, eventually, to get going and lost some more time running with a broken screen. Kris then took the screen out completely at a control, and then set some very good times running his Yaris without a screen. Eventually his Toyota was rebuilt as good as new and by setting some top three times he worked himself back up to 8th o/a by the finish. Subsequent to that he was penalised a minute for taking the screen out in a control zone, which relegated him to 10th, which was a real downer. Meeke is driving well, but it’s been a season of punctures and penalties so far. It was very dispiriting for the man who originally hails from the Bush Crossroads in Co. Tyrone. Surely, with all his ability, it has to get better for Kris soon.
Young Kalle Rovanpera won RC2 in his Skoda R5, from Mads Ostberg (Citroen R5). Gus Greensmith and co driver Elliot Edmondson overcame several mechanical niggles with their Fiesta R5 to take an excellent 3rd in the R5 category. The overall top WRC points standings are now:- Ogier 122, Tanak 112 and Neuville 110. The Championship now moves back to Europe and the next round is the Vodafone Rally de Portugal on 30th May – 2nd June.
Also last weekend were the Magherafelt Lanes Rally and Carlow Mini Stages. On the Magherafelt Targa event, with interesting tests run in bright sunny conditions, Liam & Niall Shaw in their Mazda MX-5 came out tops, ahead of Martin & Aaron Loughran, also in a Mazda. David Burns/Jason McGuickan (Fiesta ST) were 3rd. In Carlow there was the closest of close finishes, with Ryan Loughran/Gareth Doherty just edging Damian Toner/Mick Coady by 0.7 of a second for victory. Toner had led for most of the way, but the win just slipped away at the end. Jack Newman/Andrew Browne made it an Escort Mk2 top three.
Other events last weekend included the Plains Rally where Euan Thorburn took victory in his all conquering Focus WRC. A Focus WRC also came out tops on the Manx National, this one driven by Jason Pritchard. Donegal crew Martin Doherty/Kevin Flanagan had a great run on the Island to finish 13th o/a and win the Historic H1 category in their Escort RS 1800. Other crews to make the trip from here and to achieve decent finishes included Ian Chadwick/Kevin Horgan in an Impreza, and Dessie Nutt/Geraldine McBride in Dessie’s Porsche 911. John Devlin did the National B section of the rally with Ashley Trimble co-driving. Ashley is contesting the Protyre Asphalt Championship and partnered up with John in pursuit of points. A class win was just reward after a strong drive in thier Mk2.
This weekend coming on the home rally agenda it is the turn of the Donegal Forestry Rally, round 4 of the Valvoline backed Irish Forestry Championship. Top title contenders Michael Carbin (44pts), Niall Henry (40 Points) and Cathan McCourt (37pts), along with top 2wd contenders David Crossen and Mickey Conlon are all expected to contest the Bundoran based event on Saturday. Clerk of the Course John Crumlish has laid out three interesting stages, each to be run twice and it should prove a challenging and worthy day for the Championship contenders.
Euan Thornburn powers to victory on the Plains Rally – Photo CWL Rally Pictures
The motor club members have worked hard to ensure the stages are in good nick, which they are. The surface of gravel stages is a subjective topic. For example there were mutterings about this from some drivers after last weekend’s Plains Rally. However there is an arrangement there that Rally4Wales can only repair the roads after a rally, not before. If contractors cause damage, it is local companies who are employed to put down some stone. It reminds us of a time some years ago when we were commissioned by Motorsports International to note a rally in North America. When we got back we were asked how we got on, which was fine. However we did say that we thought the stages were very rough. The representative we were dealing with looked at us askance and enquired if we had ever driven the Safari route. Enough said. It is a rally after all, not a Formula 1 racetrack.
Looking forward to the weekend following, the Cavan Stages Rally looks really exciting, with many top names taking the opportunity for a real ‘tune-up’ before Donegal. Clerk of Course Stephen Kellett has arranged a superb set of stages, really brilliant roads, for the Sunday 26th May 9 stage event (plus a shakedown stage). The Cavan Rally may not be a round of the Triton Showers National Championship, but having an opt-out looks as if it will do no harm at all. Drivers of the calibre of Donagh Kelly, Declan Boyle and Garry Jennings are all tipped to be making the trip to Cavan. An interesting entry will be Joe McGonigle, down to drive a Fiesta WRC, Donegal man Joe wanting to try something different from the Mini WRC he has been campaigning. Cavan is a round of the Border Championship.
Further ahead, events on the horizon include the Clare Stages (Sunday 15th Sept) and the Directors of the Clare Club have decided to rename the event the Dougie Hughes Memorial Clare Stages Rally. Dougie always supported the Clare Club and indeed represented them at CAC meetings in Dawson Street. M. Fitzgibbon Contractors will be the main sponsor. Gerry O’Brien is again the Clerk of the Course. The rally will be based in the Hotel Woodstock and three smooth good quality stages are planned, each run three times. The club is planning a huge incentive scheme to help with entries.
A new event on the calendar is the Donegal Mini Stages on the 10th August. Johnny Baird will act as CoC. The main sponsor and host venue will be the Lagoon Bar & Restaurant, Termon. Johnny is planning to run two stages three times over a good mix of roads. The rally will be open to all, with special emphasis on beginners and novices.
Both the Donegal International and the Down Rally published the regulations this week and online entries are now live at both events respective websites.
Below is a short sample video along with our usual stage data samples for the Cavan Stages Rally 2019. We have completed our pre event recce and the notes and video are ready for posting week commencing 13th May.
Cavan Sample HD
Cavan Stages Rally 2019 – Stage Data.
Notes & DVD are now available to order for despatch W/C 13th May. Telephone 028 90844111 or order online at RallyNews.net – Click Here
Blessed with fine weather down the Beara Peninsula and through the Kerry countryside, last weekend’s Killarney Rally of the Lakes was very memorable, and especially so for the winners, Craig Breen/Paul Nagle in their Fiesta R5. Alastair Fisher/Gordon Noble and Callum Devine/Brian Hoy, both crews also in Ford R5s, had a tremendous battle throughout the 16 stages for 2nd place, Fisher holding his slender advantage to the end.
It was Ford Fiesta domination at the top. It is ironic then in a way, as Ford Motor Company always maintained that the road to success was to win on a Sunday and sell on a Monday. Immediately after the Lakes the news filtered out that Ford is considering transferring their Cork HQ to the UK.
Paul Nagle achieved a long held ambition to win his ‘home’ event.
Certainly, the manner of Craig Breen’s victory was impressive indeed. There was a slight intake of breath on the Sunday morning when an airborne deer came into contact with the front of his Fiesta, but apart from that, professional driver that he is, Craig displayed a copybook, unruffled supremacy. It was an especially significant win for his co-driver Paul Nagle. The Killarney man has won rallies in many parts of the globe, but a home win has always eluded him – until now.
Callum Devine proved his speed once again with 3rd place on the Lakes.
Alastair Fisher kept the pressure on Breen throughout the two days, and despite setting some cracking times Alastair couldn’t squeeze into the top slot. Fisher was in turn looking over his shoulder at ‘just trucking along’ Callum Devine. Former Billy Coleman Award winner Callum closed to within 2 seconds of Alastair following the first run on Sunday morning over Molls Gap. Alastair then managed to pull out a little bit of time and was 12 seconds up by the finish. Desi Henry/Liam Moynihan finished 4th in their Skoda, Robert Barrable/Damien Connolly were 5th in a similar Fabia R5. William Creighton/Liam Regan had an absolutely brilliant run in their Peugeot 208 R2 to finish 6th o/a and win their category.
Top retirements from the 105 starters included Josh Moffett and Manus Kelly (accidents), while Sam Moffett’s Fiesta succumbed to a broken wheel on the final stage and Johnny Greer’s R5 suffered a mechanical problem early on.
Chris Armstrong/Gavin Doherty in their Escort had a good win in the National section of the rally. Rob Duggan/Mikie Galvin put on a scorching display of speed in their fight back from an early time loss to bring their Escort into 2nd place. Aidan and Shane Buckley, also in an Escort, were 3rd. Alan Ring/Adrian Deasy have been out of rallying for some time and they did well to win the Historics, with Duncan Williams/Llion Williams 2nd in their Escort having led for much of the way. Ray Cunningham/Jared Gill were 3rd in their Mini Cooper and still lead the Historic points in the Tarmac Championship. Damian Toner, who missed Killarney, still leads the National points. In overall terms Craig Breen, with four wins out of four, has a solid lead of 68 points, with Alastair Fisher on 50, Desi Henry 32 and Callum Devine 30.
Also last weekend Frank Kelly, co driven by his daughter Lauren contested the Rally Whangarei in New Zealand. Frank reported that the stages were fast with big wide cambered roads, some of it was twisty and technical. He had to push very hard to keep up with the local drivers and then got one corner over a bridge wrong and his Escort dived into a field, but connected with a concrete water tank on the way which caused a bit of damage. His small dedicated team worked all night to get Baby Blue ready to day 2 and happily he completed the remainder of the stages, as usual having a ball in his own sideways style! He did admit that he obliterated many tyres….
Earlier this week the Enniskillen Club ran their Erne Skip Hire sponsored May Day Stages at St Angelo. Once again the club had a great entry of over 100 cars. To the best of our information Cathan McCourt in a Subaru S14 ran out the winner, Damien Toner and Damien Tourish, both in Escorts, were 2nd and 3rd. Derek McGarrity led for most of the day but his Fiesta R5 had throttle motor problems two stages from the end, and Derek had to pull out. Kenny McKinstry was a late entry, driving a Fiesta R5 which he has acquired to bolster his hire fleet, and without any real testing Kenny finished outside the top lot.
Looking forward to this weekend, there is quite a lot happening on the rally front, with the WRC in action in Chile, the Carlow Stages and the Magherafelt MC Targa event at home, the Manx National in the middle of the Irish Sea and the Plains Rally on in Wales.
Eleven WRC ‘P1’ drivers top the list in Chile. Hyundai is fielding three cars – for points leader Neuville, Andreas Mikkelsen and 9 times World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb. The stages will be new to all the WRC drivers, which will make it a new challenge. Tanak, Latvala and Meeke will drive for Toyota as usual, Citroen has current Champion Ogier and Lappi, while M-Sport Ford has Evans and Suninen. Privateer Lorenzo Bertelli is also making the trip, to drive an M-Sport Fiesta WRC. There is a select list of R5 drivers entered as well, with Gus Greensmith making the long trip from the UK to compete and keep the momentum going on what has been a great season for him so far.
Carlow Mini Stages COC Alan Corrigan has laid out two very tasty asphalt stages each repeated three times. The rally has again attracted a great entry of mostly two wheel drive cars, chiefly Escorts. Ironically though, there are three Darrians and a Mitsubishi in the top six! Last year’s winner Barry Meade, with Colin Fitzgerald co-driving in his Escort, will lead the 100 crews away for what should be a cracking rally. James M Stafford/Jeff Case are at 2, Ian Barrett/Paul McGee at 3 and Kevin Gallagher at 4, all in Darrians. Pat O’Connell and co driver Mark Wiley, fresh from a meritorious 2nd place on the Circuit of Kerry Stages following quite a long rally lay-off are at 5 in their Lancer. David Condell/Paul Kelly are at 6 in their Mk2 Escort and behind them are a plethora of quick men in Escorts. The rally, a counter in the Midlands East Rally Championship, also features the now well established Carlow ‘Mk 2 Challenge’.
Over the years the Manx National Rally has seen some strong entries from Ireland, but the logistics of competing on the Island are far from easy and there are less now making the trip. Some of those who are include Donegal men Martin Doherty/Kevin Flanagan in an Escort RS1800, another Donegal crew Aaron McLaughlin/Darren Curran (Fiesta), also John Devlin/Ashley Trimble also in an Escort, Dessie Nutt/Geraldine McBride (Porsche 911). Jason Pritchard and Hugh Hunter, both in Focus WRC machinery are the top two seeds. In the Chris Kelly Memorial part of the rally, further crews making the trip from here include Ian Chadwick/Kevin Horgan (Impreza).
On the Plains Rally, the man of the moment, leading the BTRDA Gold Star Championship is Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton in a Focus BRC. Mark Donnelly and Connor McCloskey made the trip over for the last BTRDA rally, the RallyNuts event, and the two NI drivers in their respective Fiestas managed a 2nd and a 4th place. No doubt they will be trying everything to move up the finishers list this time! In the Fiesta Trophy category David Kelly/Kenny Bustard are currently lying 3rd and they will almost certainly also be doing a bit of ‘catch-up’.
The Magherafelt MC Targa Rally, sponsored by PPP Group, has reportedly received a full entry. Just some of the interesting ‘names’ entered include Eamonn Byrne (Yaris), Frank Lenehan (Starlet), Jack Brien (MX5) and Fintan McGrady (MX5).
Finally for now, it is with immense sadness that we mark the death of Bryce Sands. Bryce, from Ballygally in Co. Antrim was a very highly respected rally organiser and was associated with the Ulster Rally for most of the last forty years. He was not a man to seek the limelight, but did a huge amount of work for the Ulster and several other motor clubs and rallies. He was one very sound man and had unshakeable integrity. Rallying will miss him, and as a person he will be a big loss to society. To his wife Phyllis, his two daughters Gillian and Beverley, his son Brian and to the wider family circle and to all his friends and associates we offer our deepest condolences.
Below is a short sample video along with our usual stage data samples for the Carlow Mini Stages Rally 2019. We have completed our pre event recce and the notes and video are ready for posting week commencing 29th April.
Carlow Sample 2160p
Carlow Mini Stages Rally 2019 – Stage Data.
Notes & DVD are now available to order for despatch W/C 29th April. Telephone 028 90844111 or order online at RallyNews.net – Click Here
Always renowned as a tough rally, last weekend’s Rally Argentina wasn’t made any easier by muddy roads and overflowing water splashes following days of heavy rain. Thierry Neuville shrugged off all the difficulties to take a meritorious victory. Belgian driver Neuville in the works Hyundai i20, co-driven by Nicolas Gilsoul, didn’t lead all the way, but he led when it mattered. This result extends Neuville’s lead over Ogier to 10 points, with Ott Tanak now 28 points behind the leader and Kris Meeke 4th on 54. Andreas Mikkelsen, Hyundai teammate to Neuville, shrugged off a lethargic showing in recent times to take a fighting 2nd place.
World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier pushed his Citroen hard throughout, lost some time when his C3 WRC clipped a gate post, suffering damaged steering. He then drove in a very determined manner indeed to set some fastest times, but then on some tests didn’t really crack it until near the end when he came through to the final podium place and also set fastest time on the El Condor Power stage.
Kris Meeke seemed to be heading for that podium position but dropped back because of a small road penalty and a final stage puncture on his Yaris. Earlier in the rally Kris was going really well, but then couldn’t slow his car enough going into a water splash. He hit the bank on the way out, puncturing a tyre. Kris eventually finished fourth and ‘best Toyota’. In some ways it was a disappointing rally for Meeke. He drove sensibly and well most of the time, and was in the leading frame on the Friday, but the mud and a few small problems dropped him back. So, not a bad result, but perhaps on this occasion he deserved a little better. In a way the road penalty typified his weekend – he and a couple of other drivers were penalised for taking the obvious and shortest route past a cattle grid, not over it as instructed to do in the road book. The ‘easy’ way was not taped off for the first run over the stage. Ogier seemed to make a fuss over this so-called short cut, whereas he went over the grid and damaged his Citroen’s steering. Ott Tanak and Mads Ostberg also received the same penalty.
Anyway, Kris went out on the Sunday with ‘a face’ on, proceeded into flat out mode to get past Ogier and on to the podium, but cut one corner too many over rocks and suffered that front left puncture. There is no doubt that Kris has the personal speed and the car to win the WRC, but points make prizes. Jari-Matti Latvala, also in a Yaris and on his 200th WRC rally, was 5th and Dani Sordo 6th.
Ott Tanak led the rally for a while early on, but a damaged driveshaft and then a recalcitrant alternator relegated the Estonian out of the running. Welshman Elfyn Evans had an unfortunate accident, his all sideways Fiesta WRC clipping a huge rock and tumbling over in most dramatic and frightening fashion.
Another rally on virtually the other side of the world was the Olympus in the USA. 17-year-old Oliver Solberg, watched by his father Petter, put up a stunning performance to take victory, driving a Subaru USA team Impreza. Unfortunately, Oliver’s regular N.I. co-driver Aaron Johnston, couldn’t get his travel arrangements to work and Denis Giraduet stepped into the co-driver’s seat. David Higgins/Craig Drew in the other USA works Subaru were 2nd, 13 seconds behind young Solberg. Seamus Burke/Martin Brady had a very good result as well, 4th in their Fiesta R5.
Also last weekend, another of the many events to take place was the Pirelli International and Historic event in Kielder. Matthew Robinson/Dave Robson won the Historic section, from Joe Price/Chris Brooks with Adrian Hetherington/Ronan O’Neill 3rd. Ford Escorts were the car of choice throughout the leaderboard.
Adrian Heatherington/Ronan O’Neil – Pirelli Historic Rally 2019
Co. Down’s Stanley Orr in his Mk1 RS 1600, co-driven by Graham Henderson was 7th o/a and won their class, which leaves them well placed in the British Historic Championship. Stanley recounted afterwards. “We had a good run, no bother. We were trying a different make of tyre, and they worked well, maybe a little down on sideways grip. The stages were fast and long, a real challenge.” Nick Elliott went off the road at a long fast right-hander into a chicane. Stanley was the first competitor to stop at the accident. Unfortunately, Nick, normally the pace setter in the Historics, suffered a fairly badly broken wrist.
In the International/British Championship part of the rally, Tom Cave/Dale Bowen in their Hyundai i20 R5 were victorious, finishing 17 seconds ahead of Rhys Yates/James Morgan in their Fabia R5. Finnish visitors Jari Huttunen/Antti Linnaketo in their Hyundai posted some very good times, fastest towards the end, and finished 3rd. David Bogie/John Rowan were 4th, just 2 seconds behind the Finns. Last year’s Pirelli winner and current British Rally Champion Matt Edwards was forced to retire his Fiesta R5 from this one following punctures on the opening leg. Josh McErlean/Keaton Williams had a great run to finish best Junior and R2 winner. McErlean was 7th o/a, William Creighton/Liam Regan, also in a Peugeot 208 R2 were 8th o/a, 2nd best junior crew. Jordan Hone switched from his Opel Adam to a Fiesta R2T and did well to finish 10th. Enda McCormack was 12th and Marty Gallagher 13th.
Also on Saturday the Cookstown Club ran a Lanes Rally, some of it in Davagh, and despite the inclement weather, the crews reportedly had a ball. David Burns/Connor Murphy in a Fiesta took top honours from Steven Cromie/David Stewart in a Mazda RX5 who were 14 points in arrears. Third was Douglas Reid/Dion Coyle in another MX-5. The event had a full entry of over 80 cars.
The MG Car Club (Ulster Centre) ran the Derek Walker Trial in the Ards Peninsula, and the weather didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the 45 crews competing there either. The rally was based at the interesting and very attractive Echlinville distillery near the village of Rebane. Will Corry/Pete Moreland-Moore took victory in their MG Midget from the similar car of David Cochrane/Ruth Steele. Christopher Evans/Laney Fitzpatrick were in an Escort and finished 3rd.
Donegal’s Donagh Kelly and his Monaghan co-driver Conor Foley (Ford Focus WRC) on their way to victory in the Four Seasons Hotel Monaghan Rally, round three of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship. Photo: Martin Walsh.
Then on Sunday we had the Monaghan Stages Rally. The battle for the lead was pretty intense, with Donagh Kelly/Conor Foley in their ultra successful Focus WRC eventually taking the win by 5 seconds from Josh Moffett/Andy Hayes (Fiesta WRC). Moffett seemed to have the edge during the early part of the 9 stage event. Moffett dropped around 19 seconds with a puncture, and despite a hard charge over the afternoon stages couldn’t get back in front. Roy White/James O’Brien had a very good run over the technical stages and brought their Fiesta WRC into 3rd. Declan Boyle finished 4th, Sam Moffett 5th and Darren Gass 6th. Kevin Eves/Chris Melly again produced an amazing drive in their Corolla to finish 8th o/a and ‘best two wheel drive’.
The Monaghan event was round three of the Triton Showers National Championship, and Josh Moffett’s 2nd place on the rally sees him remain top of the points with 59, Roy White has 50 and Peadar Hurson is 3rd on 39. Newry man Peadar indulged his Fiesta WRC in a few spins during the event and finished 10th.
Dessie Nutt and co driver Geraldine McBride tackled the Clacton Stages Rally in Essex. Castlerock man Dessie reported that the organisation and the closed road stages were very good. Also that Geraldine was excellent on the notes and the car went well. Yet Dessie says he didn’t enjoy it, because he felt as if he drove ‘like an old fool!” His Porsche felt skittish and he lost confidence, and if you back off in a Porsche the car will under-steer and bite you. He thought it could have been something to do with the fact that the tyres on the car are four years old! Dessie and Geraldine did however win their Historics category. Still, in an effort to get back in the old groove, Dessie has arranged for new tyres to go on the Porsche and has made a late entry for the Manx National. He is heading off to the Island this Sunday to start his recce and to tackle stages, or at least some of the same roads, which he has traversed on and off for the last thirty years. Somehow when Dessie started to chat about the Manx stages, inexplicably a few bars of the Phil Coulter song “The town I loved so well” came to mind! Such seems to be his affinity with the classic Isle of Man stages. We wish Dessie luck next weekend!
The Clacton rally which first ran this time last year as the first rally in England to have proper closed road stages, was won this year by Thomas Preston/Carl Williamson in a Fabia R5. Michael O’Brien had Mark Glennerster on the notes and they were 2nd in a Focus WRC.
Looking forward to this weekend, the Cartell.ie Killarney Rally of the Lakes has a strong entry – and a very tough, dramatic route as well. Craig Breen/Paul Nagle in their Fiesta R5 will lead the 150 competing cars out to the opening Molls Gap special stage on Saturday morning. Manus Kelly/ Rory Kennedy are at 2 in their Hyundai R5, followed by Alastair Fisher/Gordon Noble (Fiesta R5), with Josh Moffett/Keith Moriarity (Fiesta R5) 4th on the road. Then it is Robert Barrable/Damien Connolly (Fabia R5) and Desi Henry/Liam Moynihan (Skoda) making up the top six. There are plenty more drivers capable of taking a top result in Killarney, with Callum Devine and Jonny Greer particularly springing to mind after both impressed on the recent Easter Stages.
Craig Breen will head the field away in Killarney this weekend.
Clerk of the Course Dermot Healy has arranged a somewhat different rally this time, with some old favourites such as Cod’s Head, Ardgroom and Healy Pass to run in the opposite direction to which the drivers are used to. There will be three runs over Molls Gap, and the rally is planned to finish at 5pm on Sunday outside the Gleneagle Hotel after 16 stages, 230 km of competitive motoring. The rally will include all manner of classes as well as Historics, Juniors and an ‘exhibition’ class of pre 1990 cars from the golden days of rallying. This is the 40th anniversary of the Killarney Rally of the Lakes, and it looks like it could be a very special event indeed.
Below is a short sample video along with our usual stage data samples for the Plains Rally 2019. We have completed our pre event recce and the notes and video are ready for posting week commencing 29th April.
Plains Sample 2019
Plains Rally 2019 – Stage Data.
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Craig Breen cuts a great line on way to his Easter Stages win.
It wasn’t quite edge of the seat stuff, but last weekend’s Easter Stages was interesting enough. Craig Breen/Paul Nagle in their Fiesta R5 put on a master class display on their way to a reasonably unruffled victory. With brilliant weather in Counties Down and Antrim through Good Friday and Easter Saturday, it must have seemed like a re-run of his San Remo victory for Waterford man Craig. The biggest concern for Breen was a timing issue on the 11th stage but this was resolved without any drama. Josh Moffett/Keith Moriarity did lead initially, but faded when their Fiesta succumbed to an electrical glitch and eventually finished 8th. Leaderboard excitement did mainly centre on the battle for 2nd & 3rd places between Desi Henry, Jonny Greer and Callum Devine.
Desi Henry/Laim Moynihan eventually came out on top for the battle for 2nd on the Easter Stages
It was Portglenone’s Desi Henry and his co-driver from Cork, Liam Moynihan, who surged through on the second day to take 2nd place, their Skoda never missing a beat throughout. Jonny Greer/Kirsty Riddick looked very impressive through day one, but a slight blip on day two saw Carryduff man Greer having to settle for 3rd place, albeit his Fiesta less than 4s behind the flying Henry Skoda after the fifteen short but pleasant special stages. Callum Devine/Brian Hoy in their Fiesta also produced some dazzling bursts of speed, but a slight mechanical worry perhaps slowed them and they finished a close 4th, 6s behind Greer. Alastair Fisher/Gordon Noble seemed to lose a percentage of the sharpness they demonstrated on the last Irish Tarmac round down in West Cork, and 5th was the best they could do this time, with Sam Moffett/James Fulton rounding out the top six. Merion Evans, Josh Moffett, Manus Kelly and Alan Carmichael made up the top ten finishers.
This result extends Craig Breen’s lead at the top of the Irish Tarmac points. He is on a total of 51, Alastair Fisher stays 2nd on 36, Josh Moffett and Jonny Greer are tied on 24, Desi Henry has received a boost with this result and is now 5th on 22, and Callum Devine certainly isn’t out of it, having 18 points.
Former Tarmac Champion Declan Boyle had a fairly disastrous rally. The first stage was shortened several miles from the start in, so that the drivers were starting in a different place from their reconnaissance. Declan crashed his Fiesta on the first sharp corner. He said later, “It did play with my head, as I had even the early braking in my head, where I was going to brake heavy to heat the tyres. I committed too early but that is the way it goes. It was the same for everyone else but they got around it. Also, far too much work on at the moment and not a clear head.”
Damien Toner showing a clean pair of heals while winning the 2wd section of the Easter Stages.
As well as the ‘top ten’ finishers, there were lots of other very meritorious drives, and several hard luck stories as well. Damien Toner/Michael Coady in their Mk2 Escort had a brilliant drive once again to win their category and finish 12th o/a. Camillus Bradley/Crawford Henderson in their Escort weren’t so far in arrears to finish 2nd 2wd and Rodney White/Gavin Campbell also produced an excellent drive to record 3rd best 2WD, again, not a mile away. William Mavitty/Andrew Browne won GpN in their Lancer. William Creighton/Liam Regan in their Peugeot R2 had another very good result in winning class A2. Craig MacWilliam/Trevor Hamilton in their Escort RS1600 won the Historics from Adrian Kermode/Paula Swinscoe in a Porsche. Andy Johnson and Ernie Graham were having a good old battle early in the rally until Ernie’s Escort suspension went on strike, and subsequent to that Andy’s Chevette HSR suffered a puncture, the tyre rolled off the rim and led to a fairly dramatic recovery and some time loss, which meant him finishing 3rd in the Historics. Andrew Bushe struggled in his HSR with a persistent misfire leading to his retirement.
Looking forward to this weekend, there should be plenty of top line rallying. The British Rally Championship swings back into action with the Pirelli Rally. The Triton Showers National series has it’s 3rd round of the season in Monaghan on Sunday, and in something a little different the MG Car Club (Ulster Centre) is running the Derek Walker Trial with farmyard tests down the scenic Strangford Peninsula.
On the Pirelli last year’s winner Matt Edwards heads a slender but talented list of drivers. Matt is co-driven by Patrick Walsh in his Fiesta R5 and last year he went on from the Pirelli to win the British series. Over the dauntingly fast Kielder stages Welshman Edwards is likely to face some very tough opposition.
Chief amongst those will be surely be Tom Cave (Hyundai i20), as well as David Bogie, with North Antrim’s John Rowan co-driving in his Skoda, Scandinavian driver Jari Huttunen (Fabia R5), and WRC RC2 contender Rhys Yates/James Morgan (Skoda R5). This is round 3 of this season’s British series. Matt Edwards won the first round, and Tom Cave scored maximum BRC points on the last round in West Cork, although he didn’t win the rally. Stephen Petch, Alex Laffey & Matt Smith, all in R5s make up the Pirelli top ten. Desi Henry has an entry in, but he is thought to be changing course to concentrate on the Irish Tarmac series. Due to pressure of business Marty McCormack has withdrawn. Josh Moffett was on the original list, but his name is now absent. Indeed so disappointing has been the entry the organisers have at the last moment been forced to cut their cloth to suit their pockets and reduce the stage mileage.
Making the Pirelli trip from here are James Wilson, William Creighton, Josh McErlean, Marty Gallagher and Jordan Hone, all running in the R2 category. Jordan Hone has had a last minute change of car – from his Opel Adam to an EDSL Sport Prepared Fiesta R2. Enda McCormack/Colin Fitzgerald also have an entry, to drive a Fiesta 1600. Stanley Orr/ Graham Henderson and Adrian Hetherington/Ronan O’Neill (both crews in Escorts) are competing in the Historic section of the event which continues have a strong entry.
Local ace Sam Moffat should be a pace setter in Monaghan this weekend.
The Monaghan Rally, this time based in the town’s Four Season Hotel, has a star studded top entry which as ever generates an enormous local interest, no doubt boosted by the presence of Irish rallying’s most successful pair of brothers and Monaghan heroes Josh and Sam Moffett. Although it was a Donegal man, Donagh Kelly, who won this Monaghan event last year, it has been mostly one or other of the Moffett brothers who have dominated their local special stages in recent years. Donagh Kelly is back in his ultra successful Focus WRC for this one, but realistically Donagh hasn’t had a great rally run this season and he may struggle to hit top speed on these tricky but enjoyable Monaghan stages. Another threat to the Moffett supremacy could come from Declan Boyle, but following a big accident last weekend on the Buckna test of the Easter Stages, current champion Declan could be forgiven for not breaking a lot of delph this time. There are other very talented drivers in the line-up – think Roy White, local man Niall Maguire, barely recovered from his injured back, Joe McGonigle, Peadar Hurson, Darren Gass, Stephen Wright – virtually any of those could spring a surprise this weekend. Still, if picking a favourite is your game, the name Moffett has to be in there somewhere. In the ‘modified’ division, competition should also be white hot, with just some of the top names to include Kevin Eves in his Corolla. Donegal man Kevin is likely to be besieged by a horde of drivers in ‘state of the art’ Mk2 Escorts – Jonny Pringle, Damian Toner, Stuart D’Arcy, John Bonner, Damien Gallagher and ‘local ace’ Johnno Doogan all spring to mind. As ever, in overall terms, the Monaghan Rally is bulging with entries, and it should be quite a weekend. The first stage, Hollywood, just outside the town, starts at 10.00 and there are 9 stages, three repeated three times.
In the MG Club’s Derek Walker Trial many of the top autotest drivers have entered – just some of the top names include Andrew Earney/Rachel O’Boyle (Yaris), Robert & Catherine Dickson (Morris Cooper S), Will Corry/Pete Moreland-Moore (MG Midget), and also George McMillen (Mazda MX-5), Gareth Dillon (Mazda MX-5) and Mark Brien (MG Midget).
Regards, Brian & Liz Patterson, Michael Patterson & Paul McAuley.
MAIDEN WIN: Tyrone’s Cathan McCourt (Ford Fiesta R5) and his Fermanagh co-driver Barry McNulty won the Ballyvourney based Abbey Hotel Munster Moonraker Rally. Picture: Martin Walsh.
Cathan McCourt in his Fiesta R5, co-driven by Barry McNulty, took a clear win on last Saturday’s Moonraker Rally. McCourt finished over a minute ahead of Niall Henry/Damien Duffin (Citroen DS3R5), while Donal Sweeney/Dean O’Sullivan had a very decent run to take 3rd in their Lancer. Joe Hegarty was 4th. Michael Carbin finished 5th and David Crossen 6th. Carbin was jointly leading the Valvoline points with Keith Power starting the rally, but moved clear of the pack with this result, and now has 44 points, Niall Henry has 40 and Cathan McCourt 37. Power finished down in 16th on the rally following a puncture and is now equal 6th in the Valvoline points with David Crossen. Some consolation for Power is that he currently leads the Suirway Group South East Stages points on 48, Casey Jay Coleman has 46 and Mike Garahy 41. David Crossen, with Aileen Kelly co-driving, had a brilliant run in his Mk2 Escort to finish 6th o/a on the rally, with Shane McGirr coming through strongly towards the end to finish 7th, just over 20 seconds behind Crossen. Mickey Conlon was the highest placed 2wd contender in the points before the start, but his Escort slid into a ditch on a tightening right hander and got stuck. Another brilliant drive came from young William Creighton/Liam Regan in their Peugeot 208 R2 who finished just 0.1 second behind McGirr. This earned Finaghy man William a class win. Another young driver, Derek Mackrel, also went well, winning his class in his Nova and 11th o/a. Notable retirements included Garry Jennings, who was pushing for the lead but rain made the stage surface very slippy and he slid his Subaru into a ditch and got stuck. The same fate befell early rally leader Barry McKenna, while Omagh’s Patrick O’Brien also retired, having been right in the hunt early on.
Also last Saturday was the Dungannon Club’s Springfling Rally. Reportedly the competing crews had a ball down the lanes on this well organised event. David Crothers/Barbara Kane in their Mazda MX5 took the victory, by 27 seconds from Robert & John Whelan (Starlet), with Steven Cromie/Taylor Gribben (Mazda MX5) 3rd.
Slighty further afield, across the Irish Sea, Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton extended their winning form by taking victory on the BTRDA Championship Rallynuts Severn Valley event. Thorburn was driving a Focus WRC. Omagh’s Mark Donnelly, with Dai Roberts co-driving were 2nd in a Fiesta R5, Stephen Petch was 3rd, Connor McCloskey/Noel O’Sullivan (Fiesta R5+) were 4th and Charlie Payne was 5th. Phillip Morrow was running in the top 5 all day but then indulged his Lancer in a ‘soft roll’ (not the bread variety) on the last corner of the last stage! Hillsborough man Phillip finished the stage ok, but, although his Mitsubishi was undamaged, he didn’t clock in to the final control. Fraser Mulholland/Geoff Patterson in their Lancer finished 12th o/a and 3rd in class.
Even further afield, Craig Breen/Paul Nagle in their Skoda staged a
Craig Breen and Paul Nagle pulled off a sensational final stage win in San Remo last weekend.
magnificent last stage charge to take outright victory on Rally San Remo. Simone Campedelli (Fiesta R5) was 2nd on this Italian Championship event, with Giandomenico Basso in his Skoda 3rd.
Now, looking forward to this weekend coming, the Easter stages, with six stages on Good Friday and nine on Saturday, is shaping up to be a highly competitive event. Craig Breen/Paul Nagle will return from their successful Italian foray to head a strong list of contenders bidding for Irish Tarmac Championship points on this 3rd round. Out of the top six, virtually any one of them is capable of taking the win – Josh Moffett/Keith Moriarity, Alastair Fisher/Gordon Noble, Sam Moffett/James Fulton, Declan Boyle/Brian Boyle, Derek McGarrity/Paddy Robinson. The latter is in a World Rally Car, which makes him ineligible to score Tarmac Championship points. Derek, a multiple Circuit of Ireland winner, just wants a good blast over his home stages – and to win this rally of course! Otherwise, apart from Derek’s WRC machine, the story is all about R5 machinery.
Indeed, the remainder of the top ten and beyond is dominated by R5 cars – Manus Kelly is at 7, Callum Devine at 8, Jonny Greer at 9 and Desi Henry at 10 – all in R5’s. Indeed, the organisers, the Ulster Automobile Club, must have had quite a job seeding the 80 strong entries – it is not possible to put a quart into a pint pot – just outside the top ten we have Meirion Evans, Alan Carmichael and multiple Tarmac Champion Eugene Donnelly debuting a Proton R5. In the R2 department there is more than a couple of talented young drivers, with William Creighton and Kyle White springing to mind. In the modified division Damien Toner, Camillus Bradley and Keith White are just three of the front runners. The Historic division is also well supported – think Andy Johnston and Andrew Bushe, both in Chevettes, Ernie Graham in his Escort, Adrian Kermode in his fabulous Porsche 911 – all good stuff.
Frank and Lauren Kelly pushing on in New Zealand on Rally Otago.
Family Affair – further, much further afield, Frank Kelly, co-driven by his daughter Lauren on the New Zealand Rally Otago had a great run over the gravel stages to bring his Escort into 3rd in the Open two wheel drive class.
Coming up fast then after Easter is the Monaghan Stages, which is looking really good – terrific stages and a top line entry for this Triton Showers counter. That same weekend (27th/28th April) we have Rally Argentina, the Pirelli Rally, the Tendring and Clacton stages and the MG Club (Ulster Centre) Derek Walker Trial. Enough to be going on with!