Irish Notes 27th March 2019
Fine weather greeted the 130 crews who s
et out from Longford on last Sunday’s Midland Moto Stages Rally, with Josh Moffett/Andy Hayes in their Fiesta WRC the cream of the pack throughout the day. Josh’s winning margin from Roy White/James O’Brien, also in a Fiesta WRC, was over a minute. Moffett has won the Tarmac Rally Championship, and also the Valvoline Forestry series, and he wants now to emulate his brother Sam by also taking the Triton Showers National Championship. Josh narrowly missed out on his goal last season, having to give best to Declan Boyle in the final title race. Indeed it is Boyle of all the other top drivers who is giving Josh a hard time this season. However Josh had the upper hand on the first round this season, and he just had the edge on this one as well before Boyle’s Fiesta WRC came to a sudden stop because of a broken wheel. The icing on the cake for Moffett was a fastest time on the 9th and final stage of the day which netted him a bonus Championship point.
Previous National Champion Roy White reported no real problems on his way to his second place. Peadar Hurson/Damien Connolly in their Fiesta WRC finished 3rd, having been well down the leaderboard early in the day, mostly because of a dubious tyre choice. James Stafford/Jeff Case had a great run in their Darrian, holding 3rd o/a for much of the day, but eventually had to give best to Hurson.
The Darrian driver still finished 4th o/a and best two wheel drive. Joe McGonigle/Ciaran Geaney were 5th in their Mini WRC, possibly slightly slowed by head gasket worries, while Darren Gass, co-driven by Enda Sherry, did well to acclimatise to his recently acquired Skoda R5 to take 6th. Niall Devine/Liam McIntyre in their Mitsubishi won GpN, while David Kelly/Kenny Bustard in their Starlet took the Junior category.
Further afield Craig Breen/Paul Nagle, driving a Skoda R5, managed 4th o/a on the rather specialised Italian asphalt Rally Il Ciocco Valle del Serchio. Giandomenico Basso/L Grania, also in a Fabia R5, won the event. On the European Championship Azores Rally, another very specialised event, Chris Ingram/Ross Whittock did very well to haul themselves up to 3rd o/a, driving a Skoda R5. The rally was won by Tukasz Habaj in yet another Skoda, while No.1 seed and current European Champion Alexey Lukyanuk crashed his Santeloc Citroen C3 R5 out following a puncture which led, unknown to the driver, to a damaged brake pipe. Lukyanuk was completely caught out when the brake pedal went to the floor and he comprehensively rolled the Citroen. Chris Ingram’s big rally ambition at the moment is to win the European Rally Championship, a feat last achieved by a British driver, Vic Elford, just over 50 years ago.
Over in France, on the Rally Epernay Vins de Champagne Daniel Barry, co-driven by Gary McElhinney in his Citroen DS3 R5, was lying a brilliant 5th until his Citroen was halted after half a dozen stages.
Reportedly Danny and Gary had a ball while it lasted! Closer to home, well, just across the Irish Sea, Neil Simpson and his co-driver Michael Gibson finished joint 2nd with Alex Laffey/Stuart Loudon on the Legend Fires North West Stages Rally. The winner was Peter Taylor/Andrew Roughead in a Fiesta R5. The rally, based near Blackpool, employed several closed road stages, a first for the Blackburn Club. Simpson was driving a Skoda R5 and Laffey a Fiesta R5. This was a return to rallying for the popular Mike Gibson, having been sidelined for quite a few years, and he reported that the rally went well, as did they!
The MG Car Club (Ulster Centre) hosted a round of the NI Autotest Championship on Saturday at the Transport Training Services facility near Crumlin. In fine dry conditions Ashley Lamont was fastest overall, but of course there are different car divisions and Steven Ferguson, Sam Bowden and David Thompson all won their categories, while Jack Gillis won the Autotest Clubman Challenge and Michael Workman the ‘Advanced Challenge’
This coming weekend the World Rally Championship will be back in action with Corsica Rally, while several of our home drivers will face action through the Welsh forests on the Rally North Wales. On the ‘Tour de Corse’ Sebastien Ogier is the No.1 seed in his factory Citroen, backed by his team mate Esapekka Lappi. Sebastien Loeb is back in action for the Hyundai team, along with Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo. M-Sport Ford is represented by Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen. Finally, in the 10 World Rally Car line up we have Meeke, Tanak and Latvala for Toyota. After that top 10 there is a horde of R5 cars with interesting and talented drivers including Rhys Yates in his Fabia.
On the Rally North Wales the Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire Car Club has organised eight forest stages mostly in the Dyfi and Gartheinog forest complexes, much of it Wales Rally GB territory. The rally is divided into several sections and caters largely for historic cars. Making the trip from here are Marty McCormack, Stanley Orr and Adrian Hetherington, all to drive various types of Escorts.
Further news this week includes: Clive Kilpatrick/Jay Colville have acquired an ex Jan Kopecki Skoda 2000 and plan to tackle the forthcoming Maiden City Stages as a shakedown. The Maiden City recce is this coming weekend, and the rally covers some Sperrins territory, leaning towards Rousky and is the next round of the McGrady NI Rally Championship. Also on the same weekend (6th/7th April) is the Circuit of Kerry, which also encompasses some classic rally roads. We will have more information on both next week.
Brian & Liz Patterson