Irish Notes 30th October 2019

Irish Notes 30th October 2019

Who would have guessed looking at the normally taciturn Estonian Ott Tanak that he had been suffering from any anxiety as he powered his Toyota to 2nd place on last weekend’s Rally Spain, fulfilling his lifelong ambition of winning the World Rally Championship for drivers. He looked composed, as ever, but did admit though as he uncorked the champagne to feeling anxiety, stress, before and during the rally. Tanak was co-driven by Martin Jarveoja. What a season they have had, with five wins on the last seven rounds of the Championship.

Thierry Neuville and his co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul in their Hyundai took a very strong win on this one, but any driver Championship title hopes for Belgian driver Thierry were dashed when Tanak and his co-driver Martin Jarveoja upped the ante through the Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning stages. Ott surged up from fifth to move into the runner up spot on the rally. He also won the power stage, just to reinforce his supremacy, even though he didn’t need those extra points for the title. Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio made it two Hyundais in the top three when they finished 3rd. Dani had a very good rally, as ever showing great pace, although slightly disappointed perhaps on his home asphalt stages at not being able to keep the unstoppable Tanak at bay.

At one time during the rally there were three Hyundais at the top of the leaderboard, with Sebastien Loeb fastest through the Friday afternoon stages in his i20 WRC to lead the rally briefly into the Saturday morning. However the 9 times World Rally Champion just didn’t seem as comfortable in the car on the asphalt, where he is usually very quick. It is a fine dividing line amongst the top drivers at this level, and everything has to be above perfect. As it was, Loeb finished 4th, not too bad at all, and reinforces the Hyundai team’s lead in the manufacturer’s side of the World Championship.

On the subject of the WRC, the rally was a huge disappointment for outgoing champion Sebastien Ogier. He started the rally with a great flourish with his newly developed Citroen. He still had an outside Championship hope. He was fastest through the opening stage to lead. Unfortunately his C3 WRC then had a steering/hydraulic problem and Ogier lost many minutes on the next two stages. He eventually got the steering sorted, but the fire had gone, as well as his chance of retaining his title. He eventually finished 8th. Jari Matti Latvala finished 5th in his Yaris and Elfyn Evans brought his M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC into 6th, speeding up as the rally progressed and various minor tweaks improved his Fiesta’s handling.

There were many Irish fans in Spain for the rally, and there was major disappointment all round when Kris Meeke crashed his Toyota on the Saturday morning. The Ulster driver was fighting for a top three position with the possibly to disrupt the Hyundai drivers in the top positions. Meeke did rejoin under ‘Rally 2’, with the potential to maybe help Tanak tacitly, but Meeke ultimately backed off in the power stage to help his team mate.

Mads Ostberg in his Citroen C3 R5 finished 9th o/a and Eric Camilli 10th in a similar car, the former winning RC2 Pro and the latter RC2. Young Ruairi Bell and his co-driver Darren Garrod had a good run in their Peugeot R2. At one point they were in the fight to lead RC4, but finished 4th behind mostly Spanish Crews. The rally was also a counter in the Iberica Cup, which ran only over the Friday gravel stages and

A time consuming puncture cost Ruairi Bell any chance of an R2 victory, but a good run over the Friday Stages saw a win in the Peugeot Rally Cup Iberica.

Ruairi had a really good run there, taking home €6,000 in prize money in the Peugoet Rally Cup Iberica. A puncture in stage 9, where he had difficulty finding a spot to change the wheel, incurring 3 minutes time loss and cost him places in the main WRC classification. Still it was a fantastic experience as well as achievement for the team. It seems only a couple of years ago that Ruairi came to Northern Ireland to start rallying in the up to 16 years old Junior series, under the tutelage of Jim Crozier and ‘Superdrive’.

The overriding result though from Rally Spain is that we have a new World Rally Champion. Also, we really appreciated the tweet from Petter Solberg – “Congratulations to Ott Tanak and Martin Jarveoja – welcome to the rare “WRC Champions not called Seb” Club!

While all this was going on in Spain, the final round of the Triton Showers National Championship took place in the South West of Ireland. The overall National title had already been won by Josh Moffett, so it was left to Donagh Kelly/Conor Foley in their recently acquired VW Polo GTi R5 to take the honours on the Bantry based Fastnet Rally. Donagh led from the start, and eased back over the final loop of three stages as he felt a certain waywardness creep into his VW. His winning margin was still 37 seconds over last

Donegal’s Donagh Kelly and Monaghan’s Conor Foley (Volkswagen Polo GTi R5) won the Westlodge Hotel Fastnet Rally in Bantry, West Cork, the final round of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship. They are pictured on the stage at Mizen Head. Photo: Martin Walsh.

year’s winner Damian Tourish/Domhnall McAlaney in their Mk2 Escort. Welshman Melvyn Evans, co-driven Patrick Walsh in their Skoda R5 took 3rd following the retirement of Gary Kiernan when his Escort suffered a broken differential. Chris Armstrong (Escort) was 4th, David Moffett (Starlet) 5th and the ever improving JF Shovelin (Escort) 6th. Donegal man Aaron McLaughlin in his Fiesta R5 finished 7th. Kevin Eves/Chris Melly finished 8th in their Corolla, which was good enough to win them the award for the Triton Showers Championship. Local drivers Vincent McSweeney (Lancer) and Daniel Cronin (Fiesta R5) were 3rd and 4th respectively after the opening stage but both retired on stage 2 following accident damage.

Former winner Daragh O’Riordan was 9th, this time in a Mk2 Escort, and Kevin Barrett was 10th in his Subaru. (Possibly a sad occasion for Kevin, see below). John O’Connor/Michael Breen in their Escort won the Historics after a tight battle with Alan Ring/Adrian Deasey (BMW M3) came to nothing when the BMW retired on the final loop. In the Juniors section, Kieran Reen/Mark O’Leary (Civic) won class 16, while Donegal’s David Kelly/Kenny Bustard (Starlet) made the trip Bantry worthwhile and won class 16A. Killarney’s Kieran Reen, driving a Civic built to cost efficient ‘budget spec’ for the recently introduced ‘Grassroots’ concept clinched the Southern 4 Junior Rally Championship.

More stories: Hyundai lead the WRC manufacturer points table after Spain, round 14 of 15. The Hyundai team has 380, Toyota Gazoo 362, Citroen 284, M-Sport Ford 218. Next and final round of the WRC in Australia is November 14th to the 17th.

The Fastnet Rally will reportedly be the final one under the Triton Showers banner. It has been a good journey. Sincere thanks to Kevin Barrett and all at Triton Showers. The end of season prize giving for the Triton Showers MI National Championship is in the Sheraton Hotel, Athlone, on the 16th November.

Young Callum Devine heads off to contest Rally Hungary shortly and he seems more anxious about the 2700km trip out through 7 countries as well as the availability of Coco Pops in Hungary! He has also been testing his Hyundai in preparation.

The Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver nominations have almost closed for this season and include:- Brian Brady, Derek Mackarel, Shane Kenneally, Stephen Reynolds, Josh McErlean & William Creighton. The winner of the 16A class in the Triton series is also to be included, and it looks as if that it will go to Nigel Roche. Although David Kelly won class 16A in Bantry, the fact that Colin O’Donoghue didn’t finish somehow skewed the bonus point situation. David Kelly still put up a great performance and along with his co-driver Kenny Bustard has plans to tackle the British Championship Juniors next season, which carries a load of prize money. There is still the possibility of a ‘wild card’ selection for this year’s Billy Coleman Award, and possibly the Donegal crew may be in with a shout for that.

News of a driver/team reshuffle in the WRC: there is a strong indication that newly crowned World Rally Champion Ott Tanak will move from Toyota to Hyundai in 2020. Reportedly the ‘deal is done’ but the contract isn’t signed, so it is premature to rubber stamp the change. There is also conjecture that Ogier may also be on the move – possibly to Toyota. Where this will leave Kris Meeke and indeed Craig Breen remains to be seen, but when or if the Tanak and Ogier moves are ratified, others will surely follow suit fairly rapidly.

Closer to home, the Glens of Antrim Rally is still on track, although entries, as this is being written just a few days before the closing date, started out slowly, have now started to gather pace. However, the Mid Antrim club have decided that the rally will run, come what may on the entry front, for the 9th November two stage repeated forest rally. The Glens of Antrim event is the 8th and final round of this season’s McGrady Insurance NI series. Stephen Wright leads the points on 169, Derek McGeehan has 163, Derek McGarrity 145, Drew Stewart 134 and James Kennedy 130. The best 5 of 7 scores count towards the NI Title, and almost all the top drivers will have to drop a score or two. It could be a ‘winner takes all’ scenario at the finish of the event. There are also several championship class scenarios still to be decided.

Barry McKenna/Leon Jordan (Ford Fiesta) were winners of last weekend’s Empire State Performance Rally, after taking the lead early on and eventually they eventually won by six minutes.

The MG Car Club (Ulster Centre) Production Car Trial planned for this Saturday will now not take place. The field which was to be used is not in good enough condition after all the recent heavy rain. The Ballynahinch Club are running their ‘Autosolo’ at Carryduff Forklift for club members this Saturday. There are several ‘Targa Rallies’ on the near horizon, more news next week.

Regards: Brian, Liz & Michael Patterson

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

Pokerstars Rally 2019.

Below is a short sample video along with our usual stage data samples for the Pokerstars Rally 2019. We have completed our pre event recce and the notes and video are ready for posting from Monday 28th November.



Pokerstars Rally 2019 – Stage Data.




Pokerstars Sample 1080

Pokerstars Sample 1080

Notes & DVD are now available to order for instant despatch. Telephone 028 90844111 or order online at – Click Here

Order Pokerstars Notes Online



Irish Notes 23rd October 2019

Russian roulette sprang to mind when observing the antics and dramas on last Saturday’s Tyrone Stages Rally, with Derek McGarrity eventually shaking off the frustrations of chicane hassles to take a narrow victory over Stephen Wright, the two drivers separated by just two seconds following the dramatic fourteen stages. McGarrity was on his first serious outing in the ex Donagh Kelly Skoda Fabia R5 and the Co. Antrim helicopter/car dealer recovered quickly from an early coming together with a chicane and loved the Fabia. McGarrity was co-driven by Donegal man Paddy Robinson. Second placed Stephen Wright, with Liam Moynihan co-driving in his Fiesta R5, set some brilliant times but his chances took a dent when he came across a yellow flag for a fallen gate. Monaghan man Stephen had to drive around that little delay and the seconds lost cost him.  He battled back valiantly but just couldn’t catch McGarrity.

Derek McGarritty and Paddy Robinson won a hard fought Tyrone Stages last weekend at Benone.

The situation was made all the more tense as this MJE Wheel Repair Specialists backed Cookstown MC rally was the penultimate round of the McGrady Insurance NI Championship. Even with the disappointment of not taking the rally win, there was consolation for Stephen as it strengthens his championship hand. Starting the day there were four main NI title contenders: McGarrity and Wright, as well as Derek McGeehan and Desi Henry. McGeehan, normally the model of consistency, had the misfortune of his Mini WRC engine going off a cylinder, which meant instant retirement. Desi Henry, who has been on a NI Championship winning streak of late, really had to win this rally to keep his Title hopes alive. It wasn’t to be, a series of overshoots and excursions in his Fiesta WRC relegating him to 4th on the day.


One driver who had a really good run was young William Creighton. Co-driven as usual by Liam Regan, the Fiesta R5 he was driving on Saturday was quite a change from his Tarmac class winning Peugeot R2 this season, and after a few stages to settle in William was well on the pace. Gareth Sayers/Gareth Gilchrist finished 5th in their Fiesta R5 and Martin Cairns/Peter Ward rounded off the top half dozen in their Fiesta WRC. Then Barry Morris/Declan Campbell took 7th and best 2wd in their Darrian, Barry piling on the pressure through the latter part of the rally as the roads dried out and the Darrian was able to put the power down. John Devlin/John McCarthy in their Escort also finished strongly, 8th o/a, just pipping James and Heather Kennedy in their Escort on the leaderboard and for the class 6 win. This result could well have a bearing as well on the 2wd award in the Champi

Harry Brown/Martin McGrath check in their ever reliable Avenger and clocked up another good Historic result in the 1600cc machine. Drew Wylie/Jim McSherry took the overall historic win in an Escort.

onship. James and Heather’s Escort engine went off song over the final two stages and that didn’t help their cause. Championship sponsor Fintan McGrady, co-driven this time by Stephen Jess, survived prop-shaft maladies on his Escort to take the final top ten place.

Class winners included: Joel Eakin/Sean Doherty in their Civic (CL1): Paul Britton/Niall Devine (CL2 Subaru): Phillip White/Eathan McColgan (CL3 Micra): Gerard Neeson/Michael Murray (CL4 Peugeot 106): Marc Johnston/Colin Irvine(CL5 Escort). The next and final 2019 rally in the NI Championship is the Mid Antrim Club’s 9th November Glens of Antrim forestry rally.

Also last weekend, Benny Grainger/David Howard in their Mini won the Erne Safari from Kenneth Murray/Gordon Noble (Focus) and with John & Jonathan Henderson 3rd in a Micra.

There was no stopping Oliver Solberg and Tyrone man Aaron Johnstone on route to winning the Lake Superior Performance Rally.

Further afield, 18 year old Oliver Solberg, co-driven by Tyrone’s Aaron Johnston, scored another heroic win, this time driving a Subaru Impreza for the Subaru USA team on the Lake Superior Performance Rally. David Higgins, also in a Subaru, retired from the event, but had done enough through the season to take the American Rally Champion’s title. Barry McKenna/Andy Hayes finished 2nd in a Fiesta run by McKenna Motorsport. Some other familiar names that finished in the top ten included John Coyne/Douglas Nagy, 5th in another McKenna M/Sport Fiesta. Seamus Burke/Martin Brady in an Escort Mk2 were 8th. It’s a small world!


Not quite rallying: the Northern Ireland team won the Ken Wharton Trophy once again last weekend. The team’s 8th in a row. The tyre squealing action took place at Chateau Impney in Worcestershire. The NI team was made up of Steven Ferguson (Mini-Nova Special), Sam Bowden (Mini), Trevor Ferguson and Mark King (Nova). The Republic of Ireland team finished 2nd – Guy Foster, Chris Grimes, Darren Quille and Andy Blair). The England team was 3rd and the Welsh team 4th.

IAME World Cadet Final where Irish competitor Alex O’Grady won to become the world champion

Also not quite rallying: ten year old Alex O’Grady from Loughrea is the new World Champion of the IAME Minime Karting Cadet class, attained at the World Finals last weekend at the Le mans Circuit in France.

Another young Irish lad, Jack Buckley was 4th and Andrei Dabija from Clondalkin was 6th.

Looking forward to this weekend there are two main rallies on our horizon – the Fastnet and WRC Rally Spain. The former is the final round of the 2019 Triton Showers backed National Championship, and sadly it may well be the final Triton round as, after sponsoring the Championship for a long time, the arrangement is coming to an end. The overall title for the Vard Trophy has already been won by Josh Moffett, while Roy White can’t be beaten for 2nd in the overall points. Third place though can still be attained by several drivers, including Shane Maguire, Kevin Eves, David Moffett and Aaron McLaughlin. Eves and Moffett are also in contention for the award for best 2wd over the season, so all in all still plenty to play for on this brilliant 8 stage rally on the scenic South West coast. The terrain encompasses some of the finest rally roads as well as the most dramatic scenery, plus unbounded hospitality.

Top seeds are Damian Tourish/Domhnail McAlaney, winners last year in their Escort. Damian is the first driver to steer an Escort to victory since Bernard O’Brien in 1988 when the Fastnet was based in Glandore’s  Marine Hotel. Starting at 2 this weekend is former Tarmac Champion Donagh Kelly with Conor Foley co-driving. Donagh wants to notch up a few more competitive miles in his recently acquired VW Polo GTI R5. Previous winner Daniel Cronin is at No.3, the Ballylickey man on home ground of course. He will drive his Fiesta R5, with JJ Cremin co-driving. At 4 is Welshman Melvyn Evans. Former National Champion and Fastnet winner Melvyn has Patrick Watts co-driving in his Skoda Fabia R5. Kevin Eves/Chris Melly are at 5 in their Corolla GT and the top six is rounded off by Bailieborough’s Gary Kiernan in his Escort.

Just some of the other interesting drivers at the top end include Championship sponsor Kevin Barrett at 10 in his beautiful Triton Showers liveried Subaru and former winner Kenny McKinstry is at 15. Kenny wants to do the rally for several reasons, one of them is because he enjoys the Fastnet so much, and another impetus was because he wants to cover more competitive miles in his Fiesta R5. Unfortunately he gave the car a bit of a bump on last weekend’s Tyrone stages, so hopefully he makes it to Bantry ok.

Over in Spain, despite heavy rain and sadly also some rioting in places, it is reportedly all stations go for this WRC ‘Rally de Espana’. And what a cracker it could be, with the competition between the top drivers and teams at an unprecedented level this season. It is a unique rally, with six tight gravel stages on the Friday (including two runs over the longest stage of the rally at 38.85 km). Then on the Friday evening at Salou service the mechanics will have 75 minutes to change the cars from gravel to smooth asphalt specification. Road position will be important on the Friday, and won’t be so good for Tanak. But then the Estonian is remarkable for being able to shrug off such handicaps! World Champion Ogier will also be affected of course, but expect his Citroen with its new ‘aero’ to go like a guided missile on the smooth Saturday and Sunday stages. Kris Meeke won this rally last time he competed, in 2017, and he has a decent road position for the Friday, so maybe, just maybe he can produce a special result this weekend.

Citroen have been testing a radical new aero package in search of a performance boost for this week’s Rally Spain. Images courtesy of Hugo Blancher

It is all ifs and buts of course: Dani Sordo for example must be in with a great chance on his home patch. Elfyn Evans in the Ford M-Sport Fiesta really has developed into a very competitive driver and he could cause a shake up. Neuville is stunningly fast, hugely determined to stay with Tanak and Ogier in the race for the World Rally Champion’s title, and defend as well Hyundai’s lead in the World Manufacturers title race. For many people though there will be one special driver they will be looking out for on what will almost certainly be stages thronged with spectators, including many from Ireland. And that man will be nine times world rally Champion Sebastian Loeb, this time in a Hyundai i20 WRC. He has won the rally 9 times, including last year! The Frenchman has that certain style, the natural aura of a champion. Hopefully, for the sake of the fans, for Hyundai, for rallying, he has a good event. That could well be the icing on a very special cake! Always the gentleman, Loeb commented this week, ‘Merci au public Espagnol pour cette ambience tout le weekend’ – which we took to mean, thanks to the Spanish people for the good wishes and the hospitality! One slight downer is that talented Welshman Rhys Yates, such a good ‘privateer’ driver is non-starting. An extra point of interest is that Ruari Bell/Darren Garrod are competing in their Peugeot 208 R2 and Eamonn Boland is also in the entry list, to drive his Fiesta R5.

Callum Devine has secured one of the biggest opportunities of his career as he has been given a priority entry by Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing in Rally Hungary.

Looking even further ahead, the European Rally Championship comes to a climax with Rally Hungary on the 8th/10thNovember. Young English driver Chris Ingram has every chance of clinching the championship. A surprise and welcome addition to the top entry will be Callum Devine/Brian Hoy in a Hyundai i20R5. This will be a terrific finale to what has been a very successful season for the MI Rally Academy driver.


Finally for now, we wish to pay tribute to a towering rallying figure, the late Andrew Cowan, who sadly died last week. A Berwickshire farmer, Andrew first sprang to rally prominence when he drove a Rapier to victory on the 1962 Scottish Rally. This was when it was a much longer, far tougher rally. From there he became a ‘works’ driver with Rootes, and apart from rallying Imps and all sorts of Rootes cars to various successes, he won the London to Sydney in a Hunter with Colin Malkin and Brian Coyle co-driving. In 1977, on the much longer London to Sydney, he won again, this time driving a Mercedes 280, and with Mike Broad co-driving along with Colin Malkin. In the early Eighties Andrew established Mitsubishi Ralliart Europe, and apart from achieving some great results in events like the Paris–Dakar, he set Tommi Makinen on the road to WRC Rally glory. Tommi and Andrew have stayed good friends, and indeed Makinen paid a visit up to see Andrew at his 700 acre farm near Berwick on Tweed, not far from Duns.

Andrew Cowan pictured at the home farm outside Duns with two significant cars from his long and richly varied rally life.

Apart from working with Andrew on many WRC events, some of our fondest memories of him were of the great bonhomie he radiated at the little pub in Duns Square during the Jim Clark Rallies. Another big thing with Andrew was that he gave Richard Burns his real entry into the WRC. Richard repaid him with victories on the 1998 Safari and Rally GB, going on to win the World Championship for drivers of course, although not by then in a Mitsubishi. Many words have been written about Andrew Cowan, but none do real justice to this tough, great driver, larger than life man, as well as being a very special human being. To his most gracious wife Linda and his family and friends we extend our most sincere condolences.


Brian, Liz and all the Patterson family

Irish Notes 16th October 2019

Callum Devine certainly turned up the wick on last weekend’s Donegal Harvest Stages Rally, scoring a very solid win, 25 seconds ahead of 2nd placed Donagh Kelly after the 9 stages, and with Joe McGonigle just half a second further back in 3rd.


Callum ‘just trucking along’ Devine had Brian Hoy co-driving once again in his Fiesta R5 and led from the start. The former Billy Coleman Award winner has had a marvellous season and has really ‘come of age’.

Donegal Harvest Rally winners, Callum Devine and Brian Hoy. Photo by Colin Cairns


Donagh Kelly had Conor Foley in the hot seat of his new VW Polo GTI R5 and quickly adapted to his new mount. Joe McGonigle in 3rd admitted that he was too slow on the opening stage, thinking that the approach to the chicanes would be slippier than they actually were. Joe also had to adapt to being back in a Mini WRC as well as not having been on a rally at all since June. He had his usual co-driver, Ciaran Geaney, but Ciaran wasn’t in the best of form, suffering from a dose of influenza. Joe was on his home patch on this rally and just got on with it, a 15 second road penalty not helping his cause. He was 4th for much of the rally and moved up a position when Josh Moffett slipped from 2nd to 4th when he spun his hired VW Polo GTI R5 on the penultimate stage.


Heavy rain showers did not make life easy for any of the drivers. Kevin Gallagher/Ger Conway had a fine 5th o/a in their Darrian, the 2wd machine probably quite a handful at times on the wet roads. Aaron McLaughlin/Darren Curran were 6th with their Fiesta R5. Kevin Eves, Damien Toner, Damien Gallagher and Martin McGee in various 2wd machines made up the top ten.


Ivan Warwick/Claire Rodgers won the Historics in their Audi Quattro. Jack Brunton/Daragh Kelly (Civic) won one Junior Class, Neil Brogan/Niall Campbell, also in a Civic, won the other.


The rally was the final round of this season’s Border Championship, and it was Brian Armstrong who again took the title, although he didn’t feature on the event.



Also last weekend on the Cork Startrek Navigation Rally James Fitzgerald/Ken Carmody took the win on a tie break with Derek Butler/Denis O’Donovan.  In Armagh Christopher Evans/Laney Fitzpatrick in their MR2 took a close win on the Orchard Country Targa Rally from Jordan Burns/David Bulba (Fiesta).


Looking forward to this weekend, the Cookstown MC’s Tyrone Stages at Magilligan/Benone, penultimate round of the McGrady Insurance NI Championship, has attracted a decent entry. Four drivers – Derek McGeehan, Derek McGarrity, Stephen Wright and Desi Henry can win the title. All are seeded in the top ten. William Creighton is sandwiched between McGeehan and Wright, he starts at 4 and will drive a Fiesta R5 this time, quite a change from his R2 Peugeot 208.


The principal category leaders are Colm McFall, (GpN), James and Heather Kennedy (2wd), Kyle White (Juniors) and Drew Wylie (Historics).


The final round of the NI Championship is the 9th November Blue Sky Resource Recovery backed Glens of Antrim forest rally. The rally will be based at Loughguille and three stages, each run twice will be on offer. (Slieveanorra, Parkmore and Ballypatrick).


Also coming up fast is the final round of the Triton Showers National Championship, the Fastnet Rally. The CoC James Kingston has laid out three beautiful stages, mostly around the Mizen peninsula, with a wide variety of roads. Although Josh Moffett already has this season’s Championship tied up, the event should still attract a more than decent entry.


On the same weekend as the Fastnet, the penultimate round of the WRC will be taking place over the asphalt roads of Spain. Photographs of Ogier’s Citroen with the new ‘aero’ look fantastic, and what with the battle for supremacy in the World Driver’s title race between Tanak, Neuville and Ogier, plus the added attraction of past master Loeb competing, it could be one very dramatic rally!


As autumn creeps on to winter we are moving into thoughts of Awards presentations and Christmas presents. On the subject of stocking fillers, Plum Tyndall of RPM is producing several possibilities: one of them a very attractive little 80 page booklet ‘Heroes of the Hills’ utilising Esler Crawford’s brilliant photography and featuring all the Donegal International winners over the years. There is also the final DVD in the RPM Tarmac Review series, this one about Austin MacHale and particularly his first Tarmac title. Thirdly, there is a five DVD box pack covering the Tarmac series from 1986 to 1990.


On the racing front, former rally driver Phillip Young’s 18 year old son Jack won the UK Renault Clio Cup last weekend at Brands Hatch. This was a support race for the British Touring Cars and Colin Turkington once again emerged victorious from that, taking his 4th BTCC title.  Quite an achievement for him, while Sir Jackie Stewart was on hand to applaud both drivers!

Colin Turkington celebrates his 4th BTCC title.


Brian, Liz & Michael Patterson 




Fastnet Stages Rally 2019 – Pre-Event Stage Data & Sample Video

Fastnet Stages Rally 2019.

Below is a short sample video along with our usual stage data samples for the Donegal Harvest Rally 2019. We have completed our pre event recce and the notes and video are ready for posting from Monday 30th September.



Fastnet Rally 2019 – Stage Data.


Fastnet Sample 1080

Fastnet Sample 1080

Notes & DVD are now available to order for instant despatch. Telephone 028 90844111 or order online at – Click Here

Order Fastnet Notes Online



Irish Notes 9th October 20109

Close, oh so close, were the stage times on last weekend’s long tough Wales Rally GB with Estonian Ott Tanak in his Yaris WRC coming out on top from Thierry Neuville (Hyundai), but only 10 seconds between them after the three and a bit days of rallying.  World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier in his Citroen was 3rd, a further 12 seconds back. Interestingly on this rally Tanak didn’t set a huge number of fastest times. Both Neuville and Ogier had their fair share, Elfyn Evans had quite a few (7) after an unfortunate stage 3 puncture, and Kris Meeke was the man to beat in the early part of the rally, topping the time sheets. Inexorably though the NI man dropped out of contention as the pace stepped up and up.


What Ott Tanak and his co-driver Martin Jarveoja did do was stay consistent once they had taken the lead on the Friday evening. Even a damaged light pod through the Friday evening stages in darkness did not deter the Estonian too much. The icing on the cake for Tanak was winning the Brenig power stage for maximum bonus WRC points. Both Neuville and Ogier tried so very hard to reel in Tanak and keep their own World Rally Championship hopes alive. But it wasn’t to be. It was quite stunning how, on stage after long treacherous stage, these top drivers were separated by just a second here and there. There are two rallies left in the series, so it isn’t over as yet, but it will take something extraordinary to happen if Tanak is to be denied the 2019 World Driver’s Crown.

A very happy Toyota Team at the end of Wales Rally GB


Kris Meeke eventually finished 4th, so possibly it was a slightly disappointing rally for him and his co-driver Seb Marshall having led for the first 9 stages. Elfyn Evans in his Fiesta WRC was 5th. The Welsh driver, just back from an injury enforced lay-off, was fastest in stage 2 Elsi. But then he dropped 40 seconds in stage 3 as his Fiesta suffered a puncture and possibly some suspension malady. Normally that 40 seconds wouldn’t be the end of the world, but on this rally, despite the wet weather and muddy inconsistent roads, it was to prove too much to pull back, such was the unrelenting and metronome like huge pace at the front.


Elfyn was magnificent through the Saturday stages, on his ‘home patch’, but despite his heroics and bravery he could only pull back a second here and there because of the massive pace at the front. Andreas Mikkelsen (Hyundai) rounded off the top six. Pontus Tidemand (Fiesta WRC) was 7th and Craig Breen 8th in his Hyundai.

Craig Breen and Paul Nagle who finished Wales Rally GB in 8th place after recovering from a crash on Saturday which saw them drop over 5 minutes.

Craig had an up and down rally, dropping from a close 6th to a distant 9th in stage 12 Myherin when he crashed his Hyundai off the road on a left hand corner. Still, he did well to keep going, and that was despite a damaged windscreen and bodywork which made visibility for the Waterford man a bit tricky on the next stage. The talented young Finnish driver Kalle Rovanpera was 9th and won the R5 battle in his Skoda Fabia from the evergreen Petter Solberg in 10th, also in an R5, but in his case a VW.


Former World Rally Champion Petter, with Phil Mills alongside him once again, had a great rally. Often referred to as ‘Mr Hollywood’, Petter wowed the crowds with his opening performance on the Oulton Park spectator stage, recording a 3rd fastest overall time, beating most of the WRC cars/drivers. It was a real Petter performance. Unfortunately matters did not go well for his son Oliver, reckoned to be a big chip off the old block. However Oliver’s VW broke down on the Friday morning and then again on the Saturday morning. End of dream for the weekend. Well, not quite, he got going on the Sunday in ‘Super Rally’, set some decent times and then rolled his Polo.


Some drives of merit included that of Tom Cave – 11th o/a in his Hyundai and 3rd R5 in the finisher’s list.  Cave and his co-driver Dale Furniss won the prestigious ‘All Welsh’ award as well as first privateer. Retirements included Latvala who crashed his Toyota in stage 7.  Just some other drivers who had to run in ‘Super Rally’ after encountering problems included British Rally Champion Matt Edwards, Mads Ostberg, Hayden Paddon and Esapekka Lappi.

Josh McErlean in action at Rally Wales GB – Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Local man Josh McErlean retired his Hyundai i20 R5 with a mechanical problem after setting some decent times on his first WRC event.   There were many more, a further indicator of just how tough and relentless the rally was.  Eamonn Boland did make the finish as did Martin Brady.  Martin was co-driving for Keanna Erickson-Chang in a Fiesta R2T19.  Jan Solins won the RC4 class in his new model Fiesta R2T.  Ruari Bell completed the course in Super Rally in his Fiesta R2T.


Even one of the stages couldn’t run because of the weather. Great Orme was cancelled due to ‘rough sea conditions, preventing the safety diving team from getting into position!’ Surely that has to be first!


In the Wales Rally GB National part of the event held over 8 stages, John Wink/Neil Shanks in a Hyundai R5 came out on top, finishing 1m30s ahead of Dylan Davies/Llion  Williams in their Impreza. Alan Dickson/Martin Forrest (Lancer) were 3rd.


Closer to home Harry and Chris Johnston in their MX5 won the Larne Club’s Autodock Laharna Lanes Rally. Brendan Mooney/Padraig Macatamney were 2nd and Mark Francis/Adam Hilditch were 3rd, to make it a Mazda MX-5 clean sweep. In MG Club’s Production Car Trial at Erwin’s farm in Cunningburn, Bailie Thompson and Will Thompson were the top two in their Corsa, with young Zak Armstrong 3rd in his granddad Michael’s Rover.


This weekend coming we have the Donegal Harvest as well as the Tour of Mull. The Redcastle based event has attracted over 130 entries, with Donagh Kelly/Conor Foley topping the list in the new VW Polo GTI R5. This will be Donagh’s first competitive outing in the car. Muff man Joe McGonigle will be more or less on home ground on this event and he is seeded at 2 in a Fiesta WRC with Ciaran Geaney co-driving. Callum Devine, following his disappointment at retiring from the lead of the recent Cork ‘20’ is seeded at 3. Brian Hoy co-drives in Callum’s Fiesta R5. Seamus Leonard makes a comeback and starts at 4, with Paul McLaughlin co-driving in a Focus WRC. Next up are 5 two wheel drive cars, to be driven by Kevin Eves, Kevin Gallagher, Damien Gallagher, Damien Toner and Camillus Bradley. Aaron McLaughlin in a Fiesta R5 rounds off the top ten.  Tony Boyle is the CoC and he has laid on an interesting loop of three stages to be run three times this Saturday.


Entries for the forthcoming MJE Wheel Repair Tyrone Stages Rally (19th October) continue to build. This Cookstown MC organised event is the penultimate round of the McGrady Insurance NI Championship. Former multiple NI Rally Champion Derek McGarrity has now entered, this time in a Skoda Fabia  WRC in place of the Fiesta WRC he has been driving this year. As well as McGarrity and current NI Points leader Derek McGeehan (Mini WRC), just some of the top names entered who are in with a chance of the title include Desi Henry (Fiesta WRC) and Stephen Wright (Fiesta R5). Other top drivers who have entered include Martin McKenna (Subaru Impreza WRC) and Gareth Sayers (Fiesta R5).


We said above that Kalle Rovanpera won the R5 battle on Wales Rally GB.  As we mentioned before the R5 class is confusingly split into two on the WRC.  Kalle won ‘WRC2 PRO’ with his 9th o/a and also tied up the category in the WRC Championship. Petter Solberg won WRC2 by finishing 10th o/a. All a little confusing, but reportedly the FIA has put in a new R5 category system for next season. The next WRC round this year is the Spanish counter on the 24th – 27th October. The driver points position at the top of the list is Tanak 240, Ogier 212 and Neuville 199.


Regards, Brian, Liz & Michael Patterson

Irish Notes 2nd October 2019

Another new name was added to the Irish Tarmac Championship winners list last weekend when Marty McCormack, co-driven by Barney Mitchell in their hired VW Polo GTi R5, took victory on the Cork ‘20’. Not only was it Marty and Barney’s first Tarmac Championship win, it was the Volkswagen’s debut win in Ireland and the first win ever for a VW on the Irish Tarmac series. Draperstown man Marty would have no real knowledge of the classic Cork stages utilised for the rally, but he switched on to the roads and the VW very quickly. His biggest ‘moment’ of the event was probably sliding the car into the scenery on the road section to the opening Sunday stage, knocking off the front bumper!

Marty McCormack and co-driver Barney Mitchell gave the Volkswagen Polo GTi a winning Irish rallying debut on the Cork “20” International Rally. Picture: Martin Walsh.


At the finish Marty said, “The VW was insanely superb!” Craig Breen had already tied up the Championship and wasn’t able to compete on this event (although his father Ray did in his MG Metro 6R4), but the fact that there was no battle for the Tarmac crown didn’t lessen the competition and excitement at the front. Callum Devine led through most of Saturday, but lost time with a broken driveshaft on his Fiesta. This left Daniel Cronin leading, but both put their cars off the road on the Sunday morning. Cathan McCourt was another front runner to fall by the wayside. From then on McCormack was relatively untroubled at the front though Merion Evans/Jonathan Jackson in their Fabia R5  pushed hard throughout and were rewarded with a fine 2nd place, leaving McCormack little room to relax on the final stages. Jonny Greer/Kirsty Riddick were hampered a little through the wet Saturday stages with some gearbox worries but they finished well and took the final podium place.


Former multiple Tarmac Champion Eugene Donnelly was 4th. This was a surprise turnaround for Donnelly who was going to give his Proton over to Rob Duggan, but that didn’t work out so Donnelly drove it himself, with Alister Wylie stepping in to co-drive. David Guest/Jonathan McGrath took 5th in their older model Fabia S2000 and Denis Moynihan/Martin O’Brien (Fiesta R5) rounded off the top six.

William Creighton claimed the R2 title & FIA Junior Celtic Trophy in Cork. Pic Trevor Foster

William Creighton/Liam Regan in 8th o/a had a very good run in their Peugeot 208 to win the R2 category on the rally and for the  seasons championship. Andy Davies/Michael Gilbey (Subaru) were sandwiched in between these latter two and they finished 7th and winners of GpN on both the rally and the Championship.


Damien Toner & Michael Cody on their way to the National category win in Cork. Photo Martin Walsh

Similarly Damien Toner/Michael Cody in their Mk2 Escort won the National category of the event and also took the spoils in that part of the Championship. Toner and David Condell had the most marvellous battle through the rally, but Condell’s Escort gearbox cried enough before the end and he retired. Colin O’Donoghue was also right in the mix throughout with his Escort, but he had to accept 2nd place in the end, 32 seconds behind Toner.


In the Historic part of the rally Owen Murphy/Anthony Nestor were in a league of their own, and despite a few mechanical problems with their Lotus Sunbeam finished over 2 minutes ahead of Robert Barrable/Damien Connolly (Escort). Top historic contender Ray Cunningham uncharacteristically retired when his Mini Cooper clattered into a stone bridge parapet. Kieran Reed/Mark O’Leary (Civic) won the Junior section from Aaron Browne/Daniel Hanratty in a similar Honda. 4th placed Aaron McEvoy/Killian O’Brien in yet another Civic took the Junior title.


Other events outside Ireland last weekend included the Trackrod Rally as well as the European Championship Cyprus Rally. On the latter Nasser Al Attiyah in his VW Polo GTI R5 took a superb win. Chris Ingram (Skoda) was 2nd on this very tough event, Mikko Hirvonen (Fiesta R5) 3rd. Ingram, who is co-driven by Ross Whittock, now leads the European Championship, with just the Hungarian round to go. On the Trackrod, the spotlight was very much on the Historic section and was won by Matthew Robinson (Escort) from Matt Edwards (Fiat 131) and with the amazing Steve Bannister (Escort) 3rd. Adrian Hetherington in his RS1800 scored at least one fastest time on his way to 5th.


Stanley Orr in his Mk1 Escort slipped from 4th to 7th after a losing a bit of time on a couple of the Saturday morning stages when his Escort didn’t seem to be getting grip. In addition, with reverse seeding, the Mk1 Escort will always struggle a bit more than a Mk2 over rough surfaces. Stanley still won his class in the rally and the Championship, and also finished 2nd o/a in the Championship, so the Killinchy man wasn’t too downhearted. Simon Webster in his Mk2 was able to pace himself and finished 4 seconds ahead of Orr to clinch the British Historic series, although in reality Stanley would have had to finish about 6 places ahead of him to take the title. Although Stanley has won his class throughout the season, a ‘DNF’ at the Epynt rally spoiled his chances of the overall title.


Ollie Mellors/Ian Windress on way to Trackrod Rally win. Image by Chicane Media

In the section of the rally for modern machinery Ollie Mellors/Ian Windress took outright victory in their Proton Iriz R5, from Mat Smith/Giles Dykes in a Fiesta. Top BTRDA points scorer was Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson in 3rd place with their Fiesta WRC.


Now it is time to look forward to this weekend coming and observe the best rally drivers in the world strut their stuff through the magnificent Welsh forest stages such as Hafren, Dyfi, Myherin, Penmachno and Dyfnant on Wales Rally GB. Three drivers in three different makes of car can still win this season’s World Rally Champion Driver title: current World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier in his Citroen, Ott Tanak in his Toyota and Thierry Neuville for Hyundai. All these modern WRC cars produce around 330 brake horsepower and with their current ‘aero’ packages and ever improving suspension, trick differentials, brakes, electronic gizmos and tyres, the speed of these top guys is just jaw dropping.


No matter if the Welsh forests are wet and muddy or dry and dusty, the former the more likely, the pace will almost certainly be the highest ever witnessed through these forests. Such is the depth of talent and competition amongst the top drivers that it is impossible to guess who will head the leaderboard over the four days of the event. Who for example would bet against Kris Meeke in his Yaris WRC? Or Elfyn Evans, on a comeback drive following his back injury earlier in the season? The Welshman is now bursting to get back into the fray. He is hoping and planning that in his M-Sport Ford Focus WRC he can recapture the form that immortalised him to the Welsh Rally fans when he took that superb Wales Rally GB victory two years ago. Craig Breen gets another WRC chance with the Hyundai team, both Esapekka Lappi(Citroen) and Andreas Mikkelsen (Hyundai) have both hit sweet spots recently and could make the rally headlines before this weekend is out. So it goes on, all very talented WRC drivers, and virtually any one of them is capable of taking victory. The bookie’s favourite must though be Ott Tanak!


The event kicks off with a spectator stage on Thursday evening in Oulton Park. Many rally enthusiasts decry ‘artificial’ type stages, but this one looks as if it could be very special. Oulton is a fine circuit and the drivers will also use many very slippy link roads as well as some gravel sections, and then with a fireworks display thrown in for good measure. After that it is back to Llandudno for the Thursday night halt before the forest stages proper on Friday morning. Then it is an early start for the drivers before travelling into the Elsi, Penmachno and Dyfnant forests. There are 22 stages on the agenda before the Sunday lunchtime finish and only then will we know whose name goes on the Trophy for winning this 75th running of the event.


Outside of those world stars at the front of the field there is plenty more interest. For instance, it is a story of its own, former World Rally Champion Petter Solberg making his swansong on this event, 16 years after clinching the World Rally Driver Champion title here in Wales. Petter’s sensational son Oliver, just days after his 18th birthday and already with several rally wins under his belt, is running in his father’s wheel tracks in a similar VW Polo GTI R5. Petter has his former co-driver, Welshman Phil Mills in the hot seat, while Oliver has Tyrone man Aaron Johnston. We can expect some fireworks in the Norwegian department!


Indeed the R5 category has plenty of interesting drivers – Mads Ostberg, Hayden Paddon, Jan Kopecky, Gus Greensmith, to name just a few. Tucked in behind some of the ‘superstars’ is Rhys Yates, the Welshman reckoned to be one of best drivers in Britain, but also very under-funded. Rhys will be co-driven in his Hyundai R5 by James Morgan. Also in i20 R5s will be British Champion Matt Edwards, Tom Cave and Josh McErlean. Josh, just 20 years old and from Kilrea gets this drive as his reward for winning the Junior category in the British Rally Championship. He will be co-driven in the Melvyn Evans supplied Hyundai i20 R5 by Keaton Williams. For Josh this is a very big step: his first proper run in a four wheel drive car, and his maiden voyage in a World Championship Rally. Other ‘home’ connections include Eamonn Boland to drive his Fiesta R5.  Niall Burns will co-drive for the American competitor Keanna Erickson-Chang in a Fiesta R2. Young Ruari Bell, the young Englishman ‘adopted’ by many Irish fans, will drive his Fiesta R2.


News this week, although not initially about rallying, includes Ballynure man Jonathan Rea on his Kawasaki clinching his fifth consecutive World Superbike title at Magny Cours, even with a couple of races still to run. Superstar Rea, one of the nicest guys ever to throw his leg over a motorbike saddle, recounted that this was his toughest season ever. However, always courteous and calm, Jonathan overcame every difficulty with consummate style. On the four wheel racing front, Co. Down’s Daniel Harper won the Porsche Carrera Cup GB, which is pretty special. Daniel, only 18 years old, won 7 races outright this season. Charlie Eastwood, MI Young Racing Driver of the Year was an integral part of the team that won the Blancpain Pro-Am Championship, which again is very noteworthy.


Reverting to rallying, coming up shortly is the East African Safari Classic Rally, where the 2017 ‘joint’ winner Ryan Champion will be back in Tuthill Porsche 911 action. Interestingly, the just released FIA WRC calendar for 2020 includes the main Safari Rally, the first time for many years (17) that the African classic has been a counter. There is no mention in that calendar of a WRC round in Northern Ireland. Perhaps that will happen in 2021. Rally GB is shifted more towards its traditional date, (29th Oct to 1st Nov 2020)and is referred to on some paperwork as the final dirt event of the season. Rally Spain has gone from the calendar, as has Australia, to be replaced by New Zealand. Japan is included and Corsica has gone, to make it 14 rounds once again, but with less emphasis on Europe.


Closer to home Larne MC is running a lanes rally this weekend, the Autodock Laharna Lanes Rally and the MG Club (Ulster Centre) is running a production car trial at Cunningham outside Newtownards. Coming up soon, on the 19th October, Cookstown MC is running the Tyrone Stages Rally at Magilligan/Benone Beach. This is a counter in the McGrady Insurance series, with 14 short, super smooth asphalt stages. Service is in the Benone Beach Complex, so road miles are at a minimum. The event is backed by MJE Wheel Repair Specialists Cookstown. Already entered is Derek McGeehan (Mini WRC), current points leader of the NI series. More information on this rally, which certainly should be very enjoyable for the competitors, will be available next week.


Just one more aspect to this weekend’s Rally Wales GB is that the final of the eSports WRC Championship will take place this Saturday in Llandudno. Nine elite pilots from five countries, including current Champion Jon Armstrong from Fermanagh (Winner of this year’s Down Rally) will battle ‘head to head’ for the coveted eSports WRC Champion title.


Regards, Brian, Liz and Michael Patterson.