Irish Notes 31st July 2019

Irish Notes 31st July 2019


Monaghan’s Sam Moffett and co-driver James O’Reilly (Ford Fiesta R5) won the Crafted Fitted Furniture Jim Walsh Cork Forest Rally, rounds five and six of the Valvoline Irish Forest Rally Championship that was based in Mallow. Picture: Martin Walsh.

Shades of two years ago when he won the Valvoline Forestry Championship  (as well as the Triton & the Tarmac) sprang to mind when Sam Moffett surged into the lead of last weekend’s two day Cork Forestry Rally, the double header penultimate counter in this year’s Valvoline series. Barry McKenna/Andy Hayes in their Fiesta R5 held a slender lead for a day and a half of this superb Cork MC forestry rally, but in the Ballyhoura Mountain stages Moffett, co-driven by James O’Reilly in a similar R5 to McKenna’s, seemed to go up a gear while McKenna appeared to drop down a cog. Time and again over recent years Moffett has displayed this ability to stick close to the leaders and then when it mattered, move into a lead. These two, McKenna and Moffett, were separated by only a few seconds stage after stage, and then when Sam made his move the lead ballooned to 20 seconds. It was some drive and quite a

rally. In all fairness though, McKenna had to ease off as his Fiesta radiator took a hammering over a jump and the temperature reading soared so much McKenna switched off the ‘anti-lag’ on the final stage.

Billy Coleman Award winner James Wilson meanwhile did his reputation no harm at all by taking a start to finish 3rd. Keady man Wilson was driving a Hyundai i20 R5, his first real 4wd adventure through the forests. His next outing will be on the Ulster where the stages around Newry, while not quite on his home patch, are not a million miles away. Cathan McCourt/Barry McNulty (Fiesta) finished 4th o/a and scored a bundle of Valvoline points on this double header, and have moved into the lead of the Championship. It would appear, even with one round remaining, that Cathan McCourt has done enough to secure the Valvoline Champion title. Michael Carbin had led the series before Cork and he scored decent points in Cork, but is now 12 points behind McCourt with just the 7th September Lakeland to go and presumably when dropped scores are taken into account can’t catch Cathan McCourt.

Round 5 winners Barry McKenna & Andy Hayes in a Ford Fiesta R5 Pic – Ger Leahy

Making up the top half dozen finishers in Cork were Donagh Kelly/Conor Foley in their Skoda Fabia R5, Donagh still gaining experience with the Fabia. Conor McCourt/Brian Hoy were 6th in their Fiesta R5.

In the two wheel drive category David Condell/Paul Kelly had an excellent run in their Escort, finishing 12th o/a, best 2 wheel drive and winning class 14. Gary Kiernan, more usually seen on the asphalt stages, was 13th and won class 13. Interestingly William Creighton/Liam Regan were 3rd in two wheel drive with their Peugeot 208 R2 and were a brave class winning 15th o/a. In the normal run of things David Crossen/Aileen Kelly would be the 2WD crew to beat, but on this occasion David’s Mk2 gave problems – wonky power steering on the first two stages, a delay behind Mickey Conlon’s excursion, and then a snookered gearbox on the final Saturday stage which meant freewheeling over the finish line, all meaning he had to give best to David Condell on day one by half a second. With no spare gearbox Crossen couldn’t restart on the Sunday.

Kyle White/Sean Topping in action in Cork pic by Cian Don

Still, it is not all doom and gloom for the Comber man: he leads the two- wheel drive category in the Championship and hopes to have the gearbox sorted in time for the Lakeland. His closest pursuer for 2WD honours is William Creighton, and Finaghy man William would need to finish in the top five overall on the Fermanagh event, with Crossen not scoring, to take the 2WD honours. (Crossen was 2nd o/a and won the 2WD category in 2017.) Other 2WD exponents in the wars included Mickey Conlon, his Escort bursting a brake pipe in stage 3 on the Saturday and then sailing off the road at the ensuing chicane. Mickey recovered well for the Sunday when he was fastest in his class. Shane McGirr was trying a G3 Escort in Cork, the car reportedly still needing a touch of tailoring so that it suits Shane and he retired on both days.

Big interest in Cork was centred on the Junior sections. In some ways the Junior rating is a tad confusing: the winner of class 16 may be considered best Junior, or class 16A, and indeed some people feel that the class 2 winner, in this case William Creighton in his fully homologated Peugeot 208 R2, should qualify for the moniker. Then there is the Junior 1000 class, which is a different category altogether.

In class 16 Brian Brady/Gary McNamee (Civic) were the clear winners from Kieran Lynch/Adam Power (Civic).  Class 16A winners were Kyle White/Sean Topping (Peugeot 208 R2) from Derek Mackarel/Muireann Hayes (Adam R2). 23 year old Kyle from Dunmurry had a fraught time even before the rally started.  He had to work at night in the family garage to change his 208 from tarmac to gravel spec following the Down Rally, where he also tasted Junior success. Then in Cork he had fuel feed and clutch issues with the Peugeot, so it was a great result in the end!

Jordan Hone had led 16A in the early part of the Saturday, but his Opel Adam gearbox played up more and more as the day wore on and he finished the day 2nd to Mackarel. His co-driving father Paul agreed with the decision not to continue into the Sunday leg, to save the car for the Ulster. Brian Brady/Gary McNamee’s class winning performance earned them the Junior Academy (mixed surface) champion’s title for 2019, an MI scheme backed financially by John Coyne and which is designed to provide €15,000 support for next season. Their result is all the more remarkable as Brady has no real loose surface experience and his forest preparation consisted of a couple of hours sliding around a fifteen acre field belonging to Breen McNamee. They also didn’t check the notes for Cork – just left that to Breen, drove the rally to the notes and had a great time plus a terrific result.

In the Junior 1000 category, Kyle & Kieran McBride in a Toyota Ago took victory. This win places Kyle in an uncatchable position in the Mick O’Brien sponsored J1000 series. 2nd place went to absolute novice Ioan Lloyd; son of Welsh Area Rally Spares chief Gareth Lloyd, no stranger to Irish rallying. Ioan had an absolute, total enthusiastic ball through the Cork Forests and put out the following (slightly edited) e-mail after the rally: “Class weekend in Cork for the Jim Walsh Forestry! We managed 2 fastest (class) stage times and had great fun all weekend battling along! Must say thanks to everyone! The car was great and we jelled into it well thanks to Tom Gahan. Dai was a magician on the notes. We had a great laugh all weekend and he kept me on it on every stage. Hero! Thanks to mum and dad for all the support and on the spanners and catering as well as David Byrne for a great job spannering. Thanks to Patterson Pacenotes for top notch notes!  The Coalman’s for the class hospitality and Walter for our stay! Thanks to all our sponsors”

Must be great to be young!

We know one Civic crew were hospitalised following their Cork accident, and we wish them a full recovery. All in all though, everyone we have talked to thought the two day rally, the stages, the organisation, was great. Take a bow Paul Casey and all the Cork MC organisers, plus all those who came from further afield to help out. It is a courageous matter for a relatively small club to run a two day forest event of this magnitude.

Also last weekend both Stanley Orr and Adrian Hetherington headed over to Wales for the Epynt based Harry Flatters Rally. Both drivers were out of luck – Adrian’s Escort succumbed early on to a fuel related problem, while Stanley and his co-driver Graham Henderson were going very well and in a strong position of not just winning their class but of taking maximum British Historic points until on the long penultimate stage his Mk1 went off song and he thought it best to call it a day.

Looking forward to this weekend coming, much rally attention will be focused on the Neste Rally Finland. One shattering piece of early news is that Haydon Paddon had no sooner put the story out regarding how pleased he was testing with his M-Sport Fiesta WRC than he wrecked the car in further familiarisation runs. The Fiesta WRC is now considerably shorter, front and back, than it was when it left Cockermouth. M-Sport has been forced to withdraw the entry. The only bright side is that Haydon Paddon and his co-driver John Kennard were able to walk away. The accident happened on a flat out 6th gear absolute right, slightly hidden behind a small crest. Unfortunately there was a rock ‘on the line’. The car hit it so hard it split the sump guard and catapulted the Fiesta into the trees. Kiwi Haydon said later, “You have to push the car to the limit to make it work. In a sport like this you can’t have roses every day. For the absolute highs to matter and mean so much you have to have absolute lows and this is one of them.” That is a sentiment most rally crews would echo!

This leaves the top WRC entries much the same as usual, apart from Gus Greensmith replacing the injured Elfyn Evans in the M-Sport Ford team. Gus has Elliott Edmondsen co-driving in the Fiesta and they join Teemu Suninen/Jarmo Lehtinen for Ford. Of course another variation from the norm is Craig Breen/Paul Nagle appearing for Hyundai, joining regulars Thierry Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen. Citroen has World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm in C3 WRCs. For Toyota we have Meeke, Tanak and Latvala. Another new face in the WRC’s is Jouni Virtananen, who is in a Fiesta WRC. There are lots of Scandanavians in R5s, and they will be joined by Welsh crew Rhys Yates/James Morgan in their Skoda Fabia R5.

Not for nothing has Rally Finland earned the reputation of rallying’s F1. It could be a fascinating event, not least from the aspect of Tanak’s ongoing meteoric bid to wrest the world title away from Ogier, with Neuville right there in the thick of it. Tanak has 150 points: Ogier 146 and Neuville 143. It is just a couple of years ago since Kris Meeke won the rally and Craig Breen was 3rd. A touch of that again wouldn’t be so bad, in any order!

Closer to home this weekend, Maiden City MC is running the Dogleap Stage Rally at Shackleton on Saturday and have attracted a wide variety of entries such as, from Dominic McNeill/Tommy Speers in a Fiesta WRC to Gareth Sayers/Gareth Gilchrist in a Fiesta R5 and Eugene Meegan/Sarah Whelan in a Citroen DS3R5. There is a wide selection of Escort pilots as well, including John Bonner, Paul McErlean, Seamus McDaid, Tommy O’Connell, Ryan McCusker and a whole more. Indeed there is a very wide variety of cars listed: from Lancers to Civics to Subarus etc!

Regards: Brian, Liz and Michael Patterson


Ulster Rally 2019 – Pre-Event Sample Video & Stage Data

Ulster Rally 2019.

Below is a short sample video along with our usual stage data samples for the Ulster Rally 2019. We have completed our pre event recce and the notes and video are ready for posting week commencing 5th August. We no longer say too much about the stages, but in the case of the Ulster rally, the stages are too good not to say anything about them. They may have familiar names from the past, but in reality the roads that have been chosen, as far as we are concerned, are new stages. We started with a clean sheet of paper. In usual Ulster rally fashion, the stages are very technical, not too fast, with lots and lots of driving. Old school rallying. Enjoy the sample video.

Ulster Sample HD 2

Ulster Sample HD 2



Ulster Rally 2019 – Stage Data.

Notes & DVD are now available to order for despatch W/C 5th August. Telephone 028 90844111 or order online at – Click Here

Order Ulster Notes Online



Irish Notes 24thJuly 2019

Irish Notes 24thJuly 2019

Last weekend was certainly a momentous one for sports fans, as Shane Lowry was cementing his record round at Royal Portrush, Fermanagh’s Jon Armstrong was chalking up his first rally win by some margin on the Carryduff Forklift backed Down event. It certainly wasn’t all plain sailing for Lowry nor Armstrong on his first competitive run in a World Rally Car. Co-driven by Noel O’Sullivan, Jon settled into his first drive in a Mini Countryman WRC and he was soon right on the pace with the leaders. Then on stage 4 his Mini WRC incurred a puncture, which dropped him back and his leadership bid then really intensified.

Jon Armstrong/Noel O’Sullivan recovered from an early puncture to win last weekend’s Carryduff Forklift Down Rally.

Through those early stages Jonny Greer led and looked as if he was on course to repeat his win of last year, but unfortunately for him gearbox woes intervened. Also right in the frame early on was Merion Evans, but he crunched a front wheel of his Skoda R5 into a kerb and he also was forced to retire. Stephen Wright/Liam Moynihan in their Fiesta R5 then led, but were overhauled by the Armstrong/O’Sullivan combo and they took victory by 20 seconds.  Daniel Harper/Chris Campbell made it two Mini WRCs on the podium with their 3rd place finish. Harper also had the satisfaction of being top points scorer of the Protyre Tarmac Championship contenders. Melvyn Evans/Aled Davies had a steady run in their Fabia R5 to take 4th.

Derek McGarrity/Paddy Robinson had all sorts of headaches on their way to 5th. Derek picked the wrong tyres initially, then the rear anti-roll broke and on another stage his Fiesta WRC picked up a puncture. Derek reckoned at day’s end that he really only had one clean stage. Still, he was realistic in realising that he couldn’t have done a whole lot better than 5th and the result keeps him in the NI Championship hunt. He did pay tribute to Jon Armstrong’s drive and commented “He is certainly one of the top three fastest drivers in this country: he just needs a bundle of money to make it happen!” Steve Wood/Keith Moriarity finished 6th in Steve’s recently acquired Fiesta WRC. Damien Toner/Barry McParland produced another brilliant drive to finish 7th, best two wheel drive. This result does their strong position in the NI Championship no harm at all.

Jon Armstrong wasn’t registered for the NI series, so Stephen Wright was top points scorer and this result encourages him to continue with the Championship as the next round, the Lakeland Stages, which is of course a gravel rally, which Stephen says is his preferred surface. Derek McGeehan, who finished a fine 8th in his Mini WRC with his son Mark co-driving still leads the NI points, although

Jon Armstrong in full flight over ‘Fisher’s Jump” on the Down Rally Hamiltons Folly Stage.

he has scored on every round and will eventually have to drop a score.

We wrote in last week’s Irish Notes that Stanley Orr was one of several drivers contesting the Historic part of the Down Rally – wrong – Stanley ended up driving a Toyota GT86 and Drew Wylie/Allan Harryman were best Historic finishers in their Escort.

Hard luck stories there were aplenty including one on former NI Champion Stuart Biggerstaff. He was well on the pace but decided to pull out when his hired Fiesta R5 developed power steering problems. There were lots of meritorious drives as well on this rally, but none more so than Jon Armstrong’s. He first sprang to prominence on the Ulster Rally several years ago where he aced all the BRC drivers until going off the road. He got involved in and won the World Esports Championship as he didn’t have the budget to go proper rallying. A brief foray into the Dmack Cup a couple of years ago gave a taste of Jon’s ability, and his reward was a drive in the WRC2 Fiesta in Rally Germany and Spain. It was great to see him out on the Down Rally and hopefully we will see him on the real stages again, the sooner the better. Armstrong commented at the finish: “That was an unreal day”. Well, it looked real from the outside!

Gary Kiernan – Winner of the Imokilly Mini Stages 2019 – Photo by Ger Leahy.

On the Sunday the rally spotlight switched to South East Ireland and the Imokilly Stages where Gary Kieran/Daren O’Brien performed a near miracle by taking victory by just over 1 second from Richie Moore/John McGrath (Fabia S2000). This was after the Kieran Escort sustained a 50 second puncture on stage 3. As, several hundred miles North of Midleton, Offaly man Shane Lowry was showing the world’s best golfers how it should be done, Gary Kiernan had his own mountain to climb through the three remaining wet Imokilly stages. He ‘drove like the wind’ to attain his goal. Vincent McSweeney/Michael Kearney were a very good 3rd in their Lancer, David Guest (Skoda) was 4th, Frank Kelly (Escort) 5th and Welshman Tomas Davies (Escort) 6th. Frank Kelly, whose Escort was on wrong tyres in the beginning, made a slow start, but then set a fastest time on stage 3.  He said after the event: “It was a good rally and very satisfactory for me. I really enjoyed it and the format allowed me to experiment and alter the front suspension geometry as I haven’t been happy with the car on fast corners recently. I think we have found the answer.”

Also last weekend, slightly further away, David Higgins won the New England Forest Rally for Subaru USA. Barry McKenna/Andy Hayes were 2nd in their Fiesta. Young Oliver Solberg was fastest on three quarters of the stages but ended up 5th after some disastrously time consuming punctures on his Subaru on day one. Both Frank Cunningham and Seamus Burke were amongst the retirements.

On the European Championship Rally Di Roma Capital, Giandomenico Basso in his Skoda R5 took the win, with European Champion Lukyanuk (Citroen R5) down in 4th following road penalties. Chris

Oliver Solberg continues to impress. Several fastest times on last weekend’s New England Forest Rally were scuppered by some time consuming punctures. Looks good though.

Ingram/Ross Whittock (Skoda) finished down in 6th. Chris was not particularly happy with his own driving on this one, but is still well placed in the series and was 3rd in the points after the last round in Poland, with the points still to be updated at time of writing.

On the Rally Weiz, a new round of the European Historic Championship in Austria, ‘Lucky’ and Fabrizia Pons took victory in a Lancia Delta Integrale.

Looking forward to this weekend, the Cork Forestry takes place over class stages on the Saturday and Sunday, and has some class drivers as well. Both the 4 wheel drive and 2 wheel drive divisions look to be very competitive. In 4WD Barry McKenna, who was a leading light on last year’s Cork Rally, will face some very tough competition from the likes of Donagh Kelly, Sam Moffett, Cathan McCourt and Valvoline Forest Championship points leader Michael Carbin. In the 2 WD division, David Crossen in his Escort seems to be the man to beat at the moment, but he faces the toughest opposition from the likes of Shane McGirr, Marty McCormack, Gary Kiernan and a whole lot more. Some very talented Junior competitors to look out for include Jordan Hone in his Opel Adam R2. To add spice to the mix there are some very good ‘Junior 1000’ drivers such as Donegal’s Kyle McBride and Peter Beaton from Scotland.

We are only skimming over the wealth of talent in all the divisions of this rally. CoC Paul Casey has put together a great combination of stages, including the Ballyhoura territory, 150 km of competitive tracks. The event is being sponsored by Crafted Fitted Furniture and the service halts are at the Annabella Complex in Mallow on the Saturday and on the Sunday at the Mallow Autograss in the heart

2018 Cork Forest J1000 Winner Peter Beaton returns for another go in 2019. Pic By-Cian Donnellan

of the Ballyhoura Mountains.  The first car away from the start is at 10.00hrs on the Saturday and the Finish is at 17.15hrs on Sunday. The opening stage, Mount Hillary, is at 10.55 on Sat morning.

Missing from the Jim Walsh Cork Forestry line up is Adrian Hetherington: he is heading over to Wales for the Harry Flatters Rally, as is Stanley Orr, both contesting the British Historic Championship.

Interesting figures: on the Junior section of the BRC, with the 17th August Ulster Rally the next round, Josh McErlean has so far won £6,000 in Peugeot bonus money, William Creighton £5,500 , James Wilson £3000 and Marty Gallagher £1000. Interestingly, Wilson is to drive a Hyundai i20 R5 on this weekend’s Cork Forestry. Having had a run over the Ulster stages just outside Newry, we can report that they are very good, immensely challenging, a real test and at the same time very enjoyable.

Talented and likeable New Zealander Haydon Paddon is to drive a Fiesta WRC on next weekend’s Neste Rally Finland (1st – 4th Aug), so that will be another new face alongside Craig Breen (Hyundai) and Gus Greensmith (M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC).

“The apple never falls far from the tree” is a saying that has been around for a long time but could have been created for 2013 World Rally Champion Petter Solberg and his rallying sensation son Oliver. Now Petter is to mark his rallying retirement by driving a VW Motorsport Polo GTi R5 on this October’s Wales Rally GB and his son Oliver, to mark his 18th birthday and the appropriate licence, is to drive an identical VW. Stand back for fireworks! Phil Mills won the World Rally Championship with Petter and he is stepping back into the hot seat for this one last Petter rally fling.  Tyrone’s Aaron Johnston will sit with Oliver.  No doubt the spectators are in for a treat.

Regards, Brian, Michael & Liz Patterson

Irish Notes 17th July 2019

Irish Notes 17th July 2019

Fingers and thumbs were worn to a frazzle last weekend switching channels and results screens from Silverstone to Estonia, Sligo to Wimbledon, not to mention Lords for the cricket and Wales for the Nicky Grist rally.

Over on the Shell Helix Rally Estonia 2019 with its fifteen jumpy, fast, gravel Special Stages the overall result was fairly predictable, but interesting nonetheless. Ott Tanak & co driver, Martin Jarveoja, in their Toyota Yaris WRC were the start to finish winners. As well as promoting his home Estonia Rally, which had government backing as a WRC candidate event, Ott tried a few tweaks on his Yaris in preparation for the upcoming Neste Rally Finland. Indeed, for the top half dozen drivers, preparations for the 2nd/4th August Rally Finland was very much on their agenda. Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger-Amland in their Hyundai i20 WRC finished 2nd after a good run: albeit just over a minute back on the flying Tanak. A further 24 seconds back was Esapekka Lappi in the Citroen, and then it was Elfyn Evans (Fiesta WRC) in 4th. Craig Breen/Paul Nagle were a very respectable 5th on their first run in the Hyundai 120 Coupe WRC, an excellent warm up for Rally Finland. Craig had no surprises in the car and settled into a decent pace.

A big talking point on the event was the performance of 17 year old Oliver Solberg, co-driven by Co. Tyrone’s Aaron Johnston in a VW Polo GTi R5. Solberg’s drive over the early stages was simply breathtaking. He built up an early R5 lead of over a minute and was then able to pace himself to the end, finishing 7th o/a.

Monaghan’s Josh Moffett and his Wexford co-driver Andy Hayes (Ford Fiesta WRC) pass by Parkes Castle on their way to victory in the FAAC Simply automatic/Sligo Park Hotel Rally, round six of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship. Picture: Martin Walsh.

Closer to home, on the Triton Showers National Championship Sligo Stages, Josh Moffett/Andy Hayes in their Fiesta WRC took a clear victory, with their title rivals Roy White/James O’Brien, also in a Fiesta WRC, 2nd. This win takes Josh Moffett inexorably closer to the National title, an achievement which has so far eluded him. Roy White hammered away through these beautiful Sligo stages, but dropped a second or two on nearly every stage, to finish the day 23 seconds in arrears. This Sligo event was the sixth in the Triton series and Moffett has won five of them, so one more half decent result will mean he will be more or less home as regards the title. Johnny Greer/Kirsty Riddick in their Fiesta R5 were 3rd on the rally, which, apart from being a very good drive, was a brilliant opportunity to make ‘real time’ tweaks to the car in preparation for this weekend’s Carryduff Forklift Down Rally. Jonny will be going all out to emulate his last year’s win on what is effectively his home event.

 Kevin Eves/Chris Melly in their Corolla won the Modified section in Sligo and were 4th o/a, with David Moffett/Martin Connolly 5th.  Johnny Jordan/Paddy McCrudden fought back to 6th after a time loss on the 2nd stage caused by a spin and puncture. Shane Maguire/Darragh Kelly in their Mitsubishi won GpN and finished 8th one place behind Derek McGarrity who was hampered by throttle issues on his Fiesta WRC. Leading retirements included Frank Wray whose Subaru WRC blew a turbo and JF Shovelin whose Escort broke its manifold. Daniel Cronin dropped well back following an early spin and then later on a puncture on his Fiesta R5. Donegal’s Ryan Moore (Honda Civic) won the Junior Class 16 and Brian Moore won 16A.

Donegal pairing of David Kelly and Kenny Bustard are competing in both the BTRDA and the Triton National Championship and currently lead of the Junior 16A class here in Ireland. but as Kelly explained he couldn’t compete on both events. “We would have loved to been in the UK but we made the choice to compete in Sligo as it is such a great event, we are 3rd in the British Series in our class and hopefully we will get to the next round in August.” A 3rd place finish in class in Sligo netted some good points in their championship quest. Photo Gavin Luby.

On a general note, the rally received high praise indeed from many of those involved as well as spectators for the professional way every facet of the rally was handled. Even the weather was kind, making for a great day out.

Also last weekend was the Nicky Grist Rally. Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton in their Focus WRC took the overall win, over a minute ahead of Stephen Petch/Michael  Wilkinson in their Fiesta WRC. Brendan Cumiskey/Liam Moynihan were 4th, driving a Fiesta WRC. Conor McCourt/Brian Hoy managed 8th o/a in their Fiesta R5. In the Historic section Jason Pritchard (Escort) won, 4s ahead of George Lepley/Tom Woodburn (Avenger) and with Marty McCormack/Barney Mitchell just 1 second further back in 3rd. This was Marty’s first trip for a while in his Mk2, and he reported that he loved it. He plans to tackle the Cork Forestry at the end of this month, all part of a build-up to try to repeat his win on the Roger Albert Clark the last time it ran, two years ago.

Tucked away in the latter stages of the results was a name reminiscent of some of the yesteryear glory days of rallying here – Robin Eyre- Maunsell. Robin still loves to compete on the occasional forest rally. This time he was driving a Micra and, co-driven by Peter Scott, he made it to the finish. Which was rather good!  At one of his hilarious after dinner speeches years ago Robin was asked how to become a millionaire in rallying. Quick as a flash he retorted in that very special voice of his, “Quite simple really, start with two million!”

This coming weekend the action switches to the Down Rally on Saturday and Imokilly on Sunday.

Last year’s Carryduff Forklift Down Rally winners Jonny Greer and Kirsty Riddick. Image: Jonathan MacDonald

The NI event, sponsored by Carryduff Forklift, has attracted an interesting cross-section of entries, mainly because th UK Protyre Asphalt Rally Championship goes head to head with McGrady Insurance NI Rally Championship. Damian Cole, who drives a Fiesta WRC and is co-driven by the experienced Paul Spooner, is seeded at 6.  Some of the other drivers who will be trying for `Protyre points’ include Melvyn Evans (Skoda Fabia R5) and his son Merion Evans. The latter was to drive a Hyundai but that was damaged in Ypres so he has switched to an ex Jan Kopecky Skoda R5. Another driver who will be vying for points on that Protyre Championship is John Stone (Fiesta WRC), as well as Alan Kirkaldy (Fiesta R5) and Oli Hopkins (Mirage).

Current British Rally Champion Matt Edwards is making the trip to Co. Down to compete in his Fiesta R5, with a view to readying himself and the car for the 16th/17th August Ulster Rally, a round of the BRC.  Obviously last year’s winner Jonny Greer should be quick out of the box, and it will certainly be interesting to see if the other ‘home’ drivers, such as Derek McGeehan, Derek McGarrity and Jon Armstrong (Mini WRC) will fare against this varied opposition. There are lots more good drivers of course and such has been the demand for entries on this popular Down rally that some top drivers are seeded well down, and many didn’t get an entry all. One real eye opener is that Kenny McKinstry, so often over the years the man to beat on the stages, is seeded away down at 23 in his Subaru Impreza WRC S14. Changed days indeed! The rally is based at the EIKON Centre near the Maze, and there is a spectator stage there as well as the service area. The event starts at 08.30 and there will be 11 stages in total, including several runs over two revised Hamiltons Folly stages.

Also this weekend is the Imokilly Stages event and CoC Pat Maguire has arranged two very attractive stages outside Midleton, and also an  attractive shakedown stage. The rally is a counter in the Southern Four series. The top six drivers are David Condell (Escort), Gary Kiernan (Escort), Richie Moore (Escort), David Guest (Skoda S2000), Vincent McSweeney (Mitsubishi) and Tomas Davies (Escort). The event is sponsored by Ollie Kierce Cars. The Midleton Park Hotel is an associate sponsor.

News over the last few days includes notification that 19 year old Josh McErlean from Kilrea has been nominated as a candidate for the MI Billy Coleman Young Driver Award. Josh has put up some stirring performances in the Juniors over the last couple of years and currently leads the British Junior Championship in his Peugeot 208 R2. Josh is a mechanical engineering student at Jordanstown University,

The Down Rally, which had an oversubscribed entry, has squeezed in quite a few Historics, not least of whom include Stanley Orr (Mk1 Escort), Drew Wylie (Escort), Andy Johnson (Chevette HSR) and the ‘new’ breed of Historic, a Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth, to be piloted by the irrepressible Frank McMullan.

The Jim Walsh Cork Forestry entry remains open and COC Paul Casey reports that entries are starting to build nicely and we will have more news on the 2 day Forestry event next week.

Late News:

Elfyn Evans will miss Rally Finland after sustaining a back injury on last weekend’s rally Estonia. Gus Greensmith will replace the Welshman for the Finish WRC event. Evans finished fourth overall last weekend but following some physio work on his back, he has been advised against tackling the notoriously fast Rally Finland. M-Sport have given Evans their full support for the future and had stated that Greensmith was always due to drive for the factory team again this year, but this situation has fast tracked that position. Haydon Paddon will drive the third car as planned.

 Brian & Liz Patterson & Michael Patterson

Irish Notes – 10th July 2019

Slightly damp conditions initially which then metamorphosed into a beautifully sunny day made last Saturday’s Rainbow Communications Loughgall Stages pretty idyllic, especially so for Damien Toner as he powered his Escort to his sixth win at the venue. Toner, co-driven by Ronan Comerford, led from the start on this North Armagh organised event, and never looked like being headed. The rally was principally for 2wd cars, and indeed it was Mk2 Ford Escorts that dominated proceedings. John Bradley/Paul McKenna were 2nd in their Escort, albeit over 50 seconds behind the flying Toner. Also in one of Boreham’s finest was Wesley Patterson/Johnny Baird, just over 2 seconds further back. The remainder of the top half dozen, in finishing order were, James and Rebecca Kennedy, Barry Morris/Declan Campbell and Joe Hegarty/Niall Magee.

6 Times Loughgall winner – Damien Toner


Also last Saturday was the North Ulster Car Club’s TOC Utilities Targa Rally, based around Garvagh and Aghadowey. The warm dry conditions meant that the opening tests were dusty and gravelly, which slowed the front runners on the opening loop, but status quo asserted itself and Mark Francis/Katie Lemon in their Mazda MX-5 came through to win by just a fraction from Eric Patterson/Raymond Donaldson, also in an MX-5. Paul and Brendan Mooney overcame an early difficulty to finish strongly in their Nova and take 3rd place, just a couple of seconds ahead of 4th placed Matthew Mason/Marshall Kennedy (Micra). David Burns/Connor Murphy (Fiesta ST) and Steven Cromie/Taylor Gribbon (MX-5) made up the top six finishers.


This weekend coming there are several interesting rallies on the cards – Estonia, Nicky Grist and Sligo Stages. The Estonian event is seen as a great promotional tool for the country and for Ott Tanak, as well as being a terrific ‘warm up’ for the WRC Rally Finland, or 1000 Lakes as some people still call it. The Estonian government is backing the rally this weekend, possibly with an eye to the future also as a round of the WRC. Indeed, this Shell Helix backed Estonia rally resembles a mini WRC rally, with Ott Tanak at number 1 in the works Toyota Yaris WRC, Elfyn Evans at 2 in the M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC, Andreas Mikkelsen at 3 in the Hyundai i20 WRC, Esapekka Lappi at 4 in the factory Citroen WRC and our own Craig Breen at 5, on his first competitive outing in the Hyundai i20 WRC. Craig will have Paul Nagle co-driving, and for the Irish pair this will indeed be the chance they so desire to break back into the World Championship ranks.


There are several more very top names in the list, such as Markko Martin and Teemu Sunninen, while tucked away at number 14 is the sensational 17 year old Oliver Solberg and his co-driver Aaron Johnston, to drive a Volkswagen Polo GTi R5. This is a big opportunity for young Solberg, and indeed Johnston, to continue their stellar rise through the rallying ranks. Aaron has been with Petter Solberg’s son Oliver for a while now, but the young Tyrone man still has his feet firmly on the ground. For example he was out competing last weekend in a Fiat Panda, with Tony Kelly co-driving, on the TOC Utilities North Ulster Targa Rally! Aaron finished down the list, but commented afterwards, “Just a little bit of cheap fun, thoroughly enjoyed the day!”


In Wales, it is the turn of the Nicky Grist Stages, a round of the BTRDA series. Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton in their Focus WRC will be bidding to tie up the title on this attractive rally through the forests and gravel tracks in and around Epynt military range. Making the trip over from here are such drivers as Connor McCloskey (Fiesta R5) and Brendan Cumiskey (Fiesta WRC). There is a historic section as well, with Builth Wells man Jason Pritchard in his Escort reckoned to be the man to beat on that part. Going over to scatter some stones, and also try to beat Jason, is Marty McCormack in his Escort, to be co-driven by Barney Mitchell.


Also this weekend is the FAAC Simply Automatic/Sligo Park Hotel Sligo Stages Rally, fifth round of this season’s eight round Triton Showers National Championship and also round of the Sligo Pallets Border series. The battle at the top of the series has crystallised into a title fight between former National Champion Roy White and Josh Moffett, both driving Fiesta WRCs. At the moment the odds are stacked in favour of Moffett following a series of outright wins, only a puncture on his home Monaghan Rally depriving him of a clean victory sheet. However Cork ‘20’ winner Roy White can be a model of consistency and this battle for the Triton title is far from over. Seeded at 3 in Sligo is Jonny Greer/Kirsty Riddick, driving a Fiesta R5. The Carryduff man was the winner of his home Down Rally last season and this run in Sligo will serve as a useful warm up for him. Former Tarmac Champion Derek McGarrity is seeded at 5, and like Greer wants some match practice before the Down event. Certainly the Sligo Stages will provide some really excellent mileage for the two NI drivers.


There will be many driver battles of interest on these Sligo Stages, not least for GpN supremacy between Shane Maguire and Niall Devine, both in Lancers. The battle for best modified should be pretty hot as well, with the likes of JF Shovelin, 3rd o/a last year in Sligo, driving his Escort, against such modified ‘hot-shots’ as Kevin Eves, Damien Toner and Johnny Jordan.


Looking further forward, to one week after Sligo, the entry list for the Carryduff Forklift backed Down Rally (20th July) shows a talented variety of drivers. Reportedly the event, a round of the MSA National, BRDA Tarmac Championship, was oversubscribed within hours of the regulations being published. Jonny Greer/Kirsty Riddick head the list in their Fiesta R5, with British Rally Champion Matt Edwards at 2 in his Fiesta R5, and with Welsh crew Melvyn Evans/Aled Davies at 3 in a Skoda Fabia R5. Behind those top three are loads of really good drivers, which should make this challenging rally, with the stages over and around the drumlins, as well as one over a slice of the Mourne Mountains, really enjoyable for the drivers, and entertaining as well for the spectators.


Also next weekend is the Imokilly Stages, what was once a small rally and is growing steadily into a big rally, with great stages outside Midleton. More news on both rallies next week.


Further bits of news include a statement from the Donegal Motor Club that the decision has been taken not to run the new Lagoon Donegal Mini Stages which was scheduled for 10th August. The decision was taken as a mark of respect to Manus Kelly’s family, friends and the many people deeply saddened by the recent tragedy. The event will hopefully go ahead in 2020.  


Shane Kenneally has taken the lead of the Motorsport Ireland Junior Rally series and the next event is the first day of the two day Jim Walsh Cork Forestry Rally (27th/28th July). On the class based Suirway Group South East Stages, Casey Jay Coleman is the current overall points leader, and obviously class leader as well. The Sligo Pallets Border series is also class based and Brian Armstrong currently leads the points. The Cookstown Club is changing tack slightly by running a Targa Rally at Benone on Saturday 27th July. The six tests will not be difficult or confusing, rather ‘straightforward linear tests’. There is even tea coffee, biscuits and afternoon meal included for the competitors! CoC is Bob McKeown, who can be contacted on 07866253696.


Eoin Longworth has sent us notification regarding the Birr Multi Venue Autotest on 21st July – which promises to be a fun packed day of autotesting and passengers can be carried. The tests are described as simple, easy to remember and will be suitable for multi-venue, Endurance, retro and road cars. Drivers must have either a valid competition licence or a 1 event licence which are available for this event. The well respected Bill Ryan is CoC and the multi venue event starts at Donaghmore Famine and Agricultural Museum, Donaghmore, Borris in Ossory, Co. Laois.


The Connacht Motor Club will be presenting the Martin Kearns Award on this weekend’s Sligo Stages to the highest placed finisher on the event, not in receipt of any other award, where one of the crew is a fully paid up Connacht MC member. The Award recognises the clubman, a cause close to the heart of the late Martin Kearns.


Finally, we are delighted to report that our Davy (Patterson) completed the Tour Divide Endurance cycling event unscathed after 21 days hard slog over 2731 miles of dirt tracks through the Rockies from Canada to Mexico, and has just arrived back in Straid, complete with bike. He wasn’t first home, far from it, but there were many behind him and also plenty of retirements. As this piece is being typed there are still many riders battling to make the finish! There are no prizes, no accolades, definitely no finish ramp. There is just the great satisfaction of finishing this demanding event. A fascinating aspect of this enormous challenge is the lack of rules. In contrast to rallying, with its hundreds of cross referenced pages in blue books, green books, FIA yellow books and goodness knows what else, the Tour has just four short rules: For example:  ‘ You must follow the route’ and ‘No outside assistance allowed” 

The four rules are followed by the short pithy quote –

“To thine own self be true” Which is from Hamlet

After a long trek – Davy P


Brian & Liz Patterson

Irish Notes 3rd July 2019

Craig Breen and Paul Nagle after winning Rally Ypres – Photo: Sean Hassett

Copybook’ more or less sums up the performance of Craig Breen & Paul Nagle regarding their

dominant win on last weekend’s Renties Ypres Rally. Their VW Polo Gti R5 performed impeccably throughout this tough 23 special stage rally. Sky high temperatures made the rally even more daunting than usual, and many drivers paid the penalty of sliding into the sometimes unforgiving ditches, and of course with all the cutting of corners punctures were an ever present danger. Kevin Abbring finished 2nd o/a and Kris Princen 3rd, to make it a Volkswagen top three. ‘Fast’ Freddy Loix, for so many years the master of the Ypres Rally, was 4th in a Skoda.   Following the devastating events in Donegal last weekend, this win was just the fillip Craig Breen needed as he prepares for his Hyundai outing on Rally Finland. Craig commented after the Ypres Square finish ramp, “This is a very special feeling, to win the Ypres Rally. A massive thanks also to BMA Autosport for a sublime car.        

                                      The event was also a counter in the British Rally

Matt Edwards / Patrick Walsh Ford Fiesta R5

Championship, with current Champion Matt Edwards in his Swift Caravans Fiesta R5 surviving a couple of punctures to take maximum BRC points with 6th o/a. His closest rival Tom Cave (Hyundai R5) was 7th o/a, 56 seconds back. Another driver contending the BRC is Alex Laffey (Fiesta R5) and he clawed his way back to 9th.  Marty McCormack/Barney Mitchell were well into the top ten despite several overshoots and jumping their Skoda so hard on the Kemmelberg stage they broke the windscreen! However in stage 10 Marty ditch-hooked the car too hard and broke a rear suspension arm: end of rally but he had a ball while he was going!

Martin McCormack / Barney Mitchell Skoda Fabia R5


It was a mixed picture for the Junior category drivers from here who were competing in Belgium, and only William Creighton/Liam Regan made the BRC Junior podium, 3rd Junior home behind James Williams/Tom Woodburn and Ruari Bell/Darren Garrod (Fiesta R2T). James Williams had an exemplary drive, having switched from an Opel Adam to a new Fiesta R2T just before the rally, and

William Creighton / Liam Regan Peugeot 208 R2

with little or no testing had a dream run. Creighton got knocked back early on when his Peugeot 208 R2 sustained a puncture, but he stuck at it and stage by stage worked his way back up the classification. Josh McErlean/Keaton Williams (Peugeot) did make the finish, but they were a long way back, in Rally 2, as was Jordan Hone/Aileen Kelly (Opel Adam R2) and they did receive some points. James Wilson was on the back foot from the start after a shakedown accident. He retired from the event after he started to feel unwell. Marty Gallagher retired with overheating issues.



Also last weekend, round 5 of this year’s Triton Showers National Championship was won by Josh Moffett/Andy Hayes in their Fiesta WRC, with Roy White/James O’Brien 2nd in their Fiesta WRC. White led by a couple of seconds from Moffett at service after three stages. Visiting drivers Hugh Hunter and Sebastien Ling (Focus WRC & Citroen DS3 R5 respectively) retired their respective machines following contact with the Waterford scenery. In the middle loop of three stages, White’s Fiesta WRC misbehaved and Moffett surged ahead, eventually winning by 18.7 seconds. Having won four of the five rounds to date, Moffett has amassed 100 points to White’s 87. 3rd and 4th in the points, Declan Boyle and Peadar Hurson gave this counter a miss. Bit of a shame really, as the stages around Dungarvan were absolutely brilliant.

Wexford’s Richard Moore and his co-driver John McGrath made a terrific charge and finished 3rd in their Mk2 Escort, relegating Welsh crew John Dalton/Gwynfor Jones (Darrian T90 GTR) to 4th. David Guest/Jonathan McGrath (Skoda Fabia S2000) were 5th and Daniel Harper/Chris Campbell (Mini WRC) 6th. Shane Maguire/Anthony Nestor were 10th o/a and won GpN with their Lancer. Brian Brady/Gary McNamee (Civic) won the Junior Category, while Colin Donoghue/Sean Collins (Escort) won the 16A Cup category.

Next round of the Triton Showers National Championship is the 13th/14th July Sligo Stages. We had a run through the Sligo stages earlier this week, and they are very good, with a bit of everything!

This weekend coming it is the turn of the North Armagh Club’s Loughgall Stages, the event backed by Rainbow Communications. There are still a few places left on this superb event through the roads of this attractive park. The man to contact is rally secretary Barry Taggart on 07771892423. The entry list, at time of writing was not finalised, but it has to be five times winner Damien Toner at the top of it!

2018 CFF Cork Forest Rally Winners Barry McKenna & Leon Jordan. Pic By; Cian Donnellan

Looking forward to the end of July, (27th/28th) Cork Motor Club is again running the Mallow based forestry rally as a two day event, following the success of this format last year. CoC Paul Casey has put together a ‘fast flowing and exciting route for spectators, utilising a number of two stage loops with regular service intervals throughout both days.’ The Sunday leg marks a return to the Ballyhoura Mountains for 8 stages, which should be really special. The event is being sponsored for the fifth year by Mallow company Crafted Fitted Furniture. Scrutiny is at EARS Motorsport. The stages are a mixture of old and new, more info next week. All the signs are that competitor involvement for this Valvoline Championship round will be high.

Following the Manus Kelly tragedy on the Donegal International last week, little was reported on co-driver Donal Barrett. Thankfully he was soon out and about, although his arm is in a sling following a damaged collar bone.

Speculation continues to rumble that the WRC will have a round in NI next year. However Bobby Willis, whose brainchild it is, refuses to confirm or deny any progress on this front. Indeed if it comes about, it possibly may be 2021 and not 2020. However Willis will not comment, nor indeed will he give an indication as to which part of the year it is likely to take place. Although autumn is considered a strong possibility. He also deflected any thoughts about the Ulster Automobile Club using the Circuit of Ireland tag in 2020 for what is currently known as the Easter Stages. However it is mooted to be strongly possible. There are mixed feelings on this. On the one hand the Easter Stages has built up its own identity. On the other hand, the ‘Circuit of Ireland’ tag is known in worldwide rallying circles and has a tremendous heritage. One other point is that the Easter Stages may not necessarily be at Easter – some would prefer the expediency of a fixed date. Heads you win, tails you lose!

Last week we mentioned our own Davy Patterson and his pushbike exploits on the Tour Divide from Banff in Canada down to the Mexican Border at Antelope Wells. Davy is still going strong averaging over 100 miles a day over the at times rocky/snowy/flooded, gooey mud filled tracks, through rain, hail and headwinds. Cycling through these tracks is described as ‘like riding through peanut butter’. He is on schedule, fingers crossed, to finish later this week, within his target. As this was being typed he had over 2000 miles chalked up through the Rocky mountains. He has had a few problems with the bike’s rear wheel/gears which he has managed to sort. 

Latest text from Davy received yesterday Caught in storms in Polvedera Mesa crossing . Peanut butter mud track no way around . Push pull carry clean ride, chain and transmission derails. X 50. Many hours lost . But many others same . Was careful to protect transmission as much as possible , use rivers to clean and water bottles to clean wash chain as riding. Ride with Geoff Blanche a lot, one of the best TD riders out there. On a single speed bike, strength like you can’t believe , and knows the course and resupply points real cool guy. We try to go together to finish. He can be the first person in history to finish in geared bike, single speed and tandem… weather is critical now between here and AW.  Grants tomorr. Pie Town wed. Silver City thurs. rain stops the game because of mud. It’s impassable no way thru. So it needs to go a strategy because after rain the tracks dry quick a few hours.  Bike and kit serviced every day”

There are ‘waypoints’ along the route, to aid the tracking, and just some of the later ones as he moves into New Mexico from Colorado include ‘Abiquiu, Pueblo Pintando, Grants, Gila Wilderness, Silver City’ and so on. It all sounds really exciting and adventurous, but looks like a pure nightmare to us sitting at home in Co. Antrim!

Brian & Liz & Michael Patterson