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.

Donegal Harvest Rally 2019 – Pre-Event Stage Data & Sample Video

Donegal Harvest 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.



Donegal Harvest Rally 2019 – Stage Data.

Donegal Harvest Sample 2019 1080p

Donegal Harvest Sample 2019 1080p

Notes & DVD are now available to order for despatch 30th September. Telephone 028 90844111 or order online at – Click Here

Order Harvest Notes Online



Irish Notes 25th September 2019


Dessie Henry powering to victory on last weekend’s Bushwhacker. Photo NI Championship.

Last Saturday’s McKelvey Asbestos backed Bushwhacker rally produced a predicted winner in Desi Henry, but a complete surprise in the leader for most of the day, Martynas Samsonas in his very special rocket ship BMW. Desi Henry, co-driven by Conor Mohan in his Fiesta WRC, was hampered initially by being first on the road, sweeping the top layer of loose gravel. As the day progressed Henry gradually closed up on the flying BMW at the front. Suspension specialist Samsonas from Lithuania lost some momentum when his BMW engine suffered a clogged breather pipe, and allowed Henry to lead when it mattered, for the chequered flag.

Niall McCullagh also put in a storming finish aided by some other drivers having problems. They included Patrick O’Brien/Stephen O’Hanlon, their R5 blowing its turbo and blowing as well an almost certain podium place. As it was Niall McCullagh, co-driven by Ryan McCloskey in his Fiesta R5, scored one of his best results with 3rd place.

The overall win for Desi Henry means that, more than ever, he could take the McGrady Insurance NI Championship title despite missing some of the earlier rounds. Derek McGeehan, Derek McGarrity and Stephen Wright are the three who on paper are in contention for the Championship, with Desi Henry well back but coming into the picture like an express train. McGeehan, co-driven by his son Mark, finished down in 11th place having lost some time when he spun his Mini WRC. Derek McGarrity/Paddy Robinson were once again plagued by an elusive misfire in their Fiesta WRC and they finished 8th. Stephen Wright /Liam Moynihan (Fiesta R5) were 7th, Stephen still gaining gravel experience but still leads the Championship points.

Martynas Samsonas impressed once again in his powerful BMW. Picture M Sergeant

Just outside the top three on this McKelvey Asbestos sponsored Bushwhacker, Conor McCourt/Caolan McKenna finished 4th in their Fiesta R5 and Jock Armstrong made the trip from Dumfries worthwhile by taking 5th. Jock was co-driven in his Subaru by Graham Henderson. The 2 wheel drive battle eventually went to Adrian Hetherington/Gary Nolan in their Mk2 Escort. They finished just 3 seconds ahead of Shane McGirr/Denver Rafferty (Starlet) after a marvellous day long battle.

Some of the other class winners included Drew Chambers/Wendy Blackledge (Peugeot 206 GTI), Austin Snow/John Henderson (Lancer), Damien Conlin/Gareth Lewthwaite (Nova), Ruari Maguire/Cathan McCourt (Corsa) Hugh McQuaid/Enda Gerety (Escort).

Also last weekend, Kenneth Murray/Gordon Noble won the Dungannon based Moonraker Rally from Philip & Kyle Somerville in a Rover Mini. John & Jonathan Henderson were 3rd in their Micra and Michael Reid/John Lindsay 4th in their MG Midget. The event took place over the back roads West of Dungannon.

This weekend the main home rally focus will be on the CB Toolhire backed Cork ‘20’. The rally has received a strong entry and in the sign of the times the top end of the list is dominated by R5 machinery. Callum Devine/Brian Hoy are the top seeds in a Fiesta, then it is Jonny Greer/Kirsty Riddick in a similar Fiesta. Marty McCormack/Barney Mitchell are at 3 in a Dom Buckley VW Polo GTi R5 and it will be interesting to see how they go on the car’s Irish debut. Merion Evans/Jonathan Jackson are at 4 in a Skoda, Daniel Cronin/JJ Cremin, 2nd here last year, are at 5 in their Fiesta, and Andrew Purcell/Liam Brennan start at 6 in their Fiesta, hopefully fully repaired since its Wexford mishap. Then at 7 we have Cathan McCourt and listed at 8 is Eugene Donnelly, just back from his honeymoon. However, reportedly Rob Duggan in an R5 is taking over that entry, which should add yet another dimension to the leaderboard battle. At 9 is David Guest and at 10 Sacha Kakad. Jordan and Paul Hone are slotted in at 14 for their first run in an R5 car (it was mooted to be a Hyundai, but that has been changed to Fiesta R5).

Creighton stuned the opposition at the Galloway Hills Rally after recovering from a puncture and going on to win the BRC Junior category. It’s all go again this weekend in Cork.
Image credit: Colin Smith

Top two wheel drive exponents are Damien Toner/Michael Coady and David Condell/Paul Kelly, both in Mk2 Escorts. William Creighton/Liam Regan are seeded at 41 in their Peugeot 208 R2, just ahead of Johnnie Mulholland/Charles Gallagher in their Fiesta R2T.

The Cork ‘20’ is the final round of the Irish Tarmac Championship and carries ‘points and a half’ so both William and Johnnie still have a chance of winning the ‘R2’ category. The overall title has of course gone the way of Craig Breen/Paul Nagle on the Ulster Rally.

Besides the interest in the top of the Cork ‘20’ list as to who will be doing the winning and losing through the rallies’ 12 glorious stages, there are many interesting drivers and cars entered. Owen Murphy/Anthony Nestor for example will be battling it out for Historic honours in a Lotus Sunbeam. John & Stephen Coyne are in a fabulous Porsche 997 GT3. Adrian Kermode/Paula Swinscoe are in a Porsche 911, as are Brendan McAree/Niall Kelly. Alan Ring/Adrian Deasy are out in a BMW M3. Aaron Browne/Daniel Hanratty head the Junior contingent in their Civic.

The rally, which was originally to be based in Macroom but is now stationed in Little Island to the East of Cork City near Midleton. The event starts at 10.30 on Saturday morning, main service is at Macroom, overnight halt back at the Radisson Blu in Little Island and the finish is there on Sunday afternoon at approximately 5pm.

Also this weekend the Trackrod Rally will run through the classic Yorkshire forests. The event is a counter in the BTRDA as well as the British Historic Rally Championship. The Historic entries include Matt Edwards in a Fiat 131 Abarth, Bob Bean in a Lotus Cortina and the always very fast Nick Elliott in his Escort. Two crews making the trip from here include Stanley Orr/Graham Henderson and they will drive their Mark 1 Escort, while in a Mk2 will be Adrian Hetherington/Ronan O’Neill. In the

Stanley Orr/Graham Henderson make the trip to Yorkshire as the final round of their BHRC campaign.

BTRDA section just some of the top seeds include Stephen Petch in his Fiesta WRC and Ollie Mellors in a Proton R5. The historic category will tackle a big stage on Friday night, and then resume on Saturday morning, which will be a great warm-up for the Roger Albert Clark. When we contacted him at his Co Down workshop, Stanley Orr commented on the big Friday night stage, “Yes, it is so fast, it is going to take a big commitment in the dark. I have been going over the DVD of the stages, and trying to really pin down the distances.” Stanley has had a brilliant year in the British Historics, except for a major disappointment on the Epynt event when his Mk1’s engine went off a cylinder and he had to switch it off. He went on to say, “Other than that, I could have had the overall Championship sewn up, five class wins out of six rallies, five to count. I have the class won ok, but the overall win is not going to be easy. We are 2nd o/a at the moment The car is good, the engine was great on the Ulster. Simon Webster (Mk2 BDA) is the man to beat. Like myself he is not a youngster, and he has been at the top, led rallies, for many years, but luck hasn’t been on his side. This year it is all going well for him, and he has good experience in Yorkshire, whereas the last time I was there was in the Eighties.” We will watch the Trackrod results with interest!

News this week includes the arrival of a new, latest homologated version of the VW Polo GTi R5 to come to Ireland. The car is headed for the Donagh Kelly stable. Donagh’s Skoda R5 is now at Derek McGarrity’s business in Co. Antrim. Robin Phillips competed in the Bushwhacker with his immaculate Subaru Impreza WRC. Robin won the rally 25 years ago and the organisers gave him the number 25 in recognition! News of another star is that Jimmy McRae is competing on the National section of Wales Rally GB in a Porsche 911. The next round of the NI Rally Championship is the Tyrone Stages on the 19th October. Once again the Cookstown MC event will have super smooth asphalt stages around the Magilligan complex fornenst Benone Beach.

Bangor’s Allan Harryman had a great result at the weekend, co-driving John Papadimitriou in his Skoda Fabia R5 to victory on the MyKteo Fthinoporino Rally. British Rally Champion Matt Edwards is to drive a Hyundai R5 and not his usual Fiesta R5 on next week’s Wales Rally GB. Matt will have Mark Glennerster co-driving as usual, and they will have Josh McErlean/Keaton Williams as team-mates for the weekend.

The very tough European Championship Cyprus rally takes place this coming weekend, with Chris Ingram/Ross Whittock the No.1 seeds in their Skoda Fabia R5 ‘Evo’. Previous winner Nasser Al-Attiyah is seeded at number 4 in a VW Polo GTI R5. Mikko Hirvonen is at 6 and to drive a Fiesta R5. Fermanagh’s Marshall Clarke is co-driving for Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari in a Skoda R5.

Multiple rally winner Oliver Solberg has just celebrated his 18th birthday, so should be ‘legal’ to drive as planned on next week’s Wales Rally GB, with Tyrone’s Aaron Johnston co-driving in his VW Polo GTi R5. It should be quite an occasion for the Solberg family with father Petter completing his retirement tour on the same event, also driving a VW Polo R5. It was on Wales Rally GB 16 years ago of course that Petter clinched his World Rally Championship victory, with Phil Mills co-driving then and is co-driving again this time.

Regards, Brian, Liz & Michael Patterson

NI Championship Points after Bushwhacker Rally (PDF Document)

Irish Notes 18th September 2019

Irish Notes 18th September 2019

Breathtaking terrain no doubt, but the WRC Rally Turkey’s rock strewn, dusty, tyre shredding tracks made the going very tough for the drivers. Oh and there were bouts of torrential rain interrupting the searing heat. It was World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier, very much on his mettle, who shrugged of these most difficult rally conditions and took a hard earned victory just ahead of his Citroen teammate Esapekka Lappi. This Citroen ‘one–two’ result not only rejuvenated the Citroen team, it added real impetus to Ogier’s challenge to retain his Champion’s crown. Ott Tanak still heads the WRC driver’s points but his run of wins ground to a halt in Turkey when the electrics of his Yaris WRC stopped playing ball. Tanak did rejoin for the final day and set fastest time in the power stage.

The other main player in the WRC title battle is Thierry Neuville. The Belgian battled hard in Turkey but got caught out in the dust on Saturday afternoon and his Hyundai became stuck off the road for four minutes. This did his WRC title hopes no favours at all. He eventually finished 8th, with Meeke 7th. Andreas Mikkelsen did keep the Hyundai flag flying with his 3rd place finish. Teemu Suninen in the pace-setting M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC was 4th, Dani Sordo (Hyundai) was 5th and Jari-Matti Latvala (Yaris), following punctures, was 6th.

One of the drives of the rally came from Gus Greensmith who was 10th o/a and won the R5 division in his very battered Fiesta R5 Mk2 – battered because he crashed at the finish of the penultimate stage but managed to keep going. Confusingly the R5 class is now divided into two sections so it is not easy to figure out who is winning what, but Jan Kopecky finished 11th o/a in his Skoda R5. In overall terms, Hyundai continues to lead the WRC Manufacturer’s points, while in the driver’s points Ott Tanak has 210, Ogier 193 and Neuville 180.

Meanwhile Frank Kelly, co-driven by his daughter Lauren, took a trip to Belgium last weekend and had a ball on his way to 2nd place on Escort Rally Special, based at Chimay. Frank lost some time early in the event, firstly with difficult visibility, then with clouting a couple of straw bales. As the rally progressed he started to mix in with the fastest times to finish 2nd o/a. Frank paid great tribute to his fellow driver from home Jack Newman, who put up great times and was ahead of Frank most of the way, but then Jack was forced to retire his Mk2 on the final stage. Francois Duval was the outright winner, while Welshman Tomas Davies did well to finish 3rd. Alister McRae made the trip from Australia and he finished 4th.

David Bogie secured the SRC win at the Galloway Hills on his MINI WRC debut
Image credit – Eddie Kelly Motorsport Photography

Slightly closer to home, Tom Cave/Dale Bowen in their rebuilt Hyundai R5 were fastest on all 9 stages (the rally should have had 9 stages, but the event was running so late the final test was abandoned) to take a clear victory on the Galloway Hills Rally, final round of this season’s British Rally Championship. Despite this dazzling display, Cave didn’t win the Championship, that honour going to Matt Edwards/Patrick Walsh in their Fiesta R5. Edwards knew before the start he didn’t have to win the rally to retain his British Rally Champion’s crown and his best plan was to keep his Fiesta’s nose clean, adopt a steady pace through the difficult and technical Galloway stages and the title would be his. That is exactly what the North Wales man did do. Jonny Greer, co-driven this time by Dai Roberts in his Fiesta R5, had a very good rally to finish 2nd o/a, 54 seconds behind Cave, over a minute ahead of Edwards.

James Wilson continued his R5 learning curve with a solid 4th in his Hyundai, guided once again by Arthur Kierans.

William Creighton/Liam Regan were stars of the show, recovering from an early puncture on their Peugeot 208 R2 to take 5th o/a and win the BRC Junior section. Marty Gallagher/Dean O’Sullivan also gave the rally a real good go and finished just over 5 seconds behind Creighton. Marty was driving a Fiesta R2T and both drivers will receive a substantial slice of the

Ruairi Bell / Darren Garrod – Ruairi Bell helped to cement his plans for 2020 by winning €60,000 towards an FIA JWRC campaign. – Jakob Ebrey Photohraphy

junior prize fund. Earlier in the day it had been Jordan Hone/Keaton Williams who had set the Junior pace in their Opel Adam. However a rear wheel of the Opel dropped into the ditch in stage 6, the car then catapulted across the track into the

other ditch. They were able to finish the stage but could go no further because of radiator and other damage. Ruari Bell/Darren Garrod finished in 11th o/a and they won the €60,000 voucher from M-Sport and Pirelli for topping the Ford Fiesta R2 Trophy standings. In the Scottish Championship part of Galloway, run over a lesser mileage, David Bogie, driving Derek McGeehan’s Mini WRC, had a clear win over Jock Armstrong in his Subaru.


Also last weekend we had the Clare stages rally and Roy White/James O’Brien in their Fiesta WRC took the victory, with Daniel Cronin/JJ Cremin 2nd in their Fiesta R5, just 15 seconds back. Ian Barrett/Paul McGee brought their Darrian into 3rd. Roy commented after the rally that it hadn’t been an easy event. Although he thought the stages were very good, he found the constant damp and mizzly conditions throughout the day made it very challenging. He also said that Daniel Cronin had set some very good times, so the pressure was constantly on. Having said that, Roy did admit that his main aim for the day was to get his Fiesta WRC to the finish in a good enough position to clinch the West Coast Championship, which he did.

Roy White-James O’Brien – winners of last weekend’s Dougie Hughes Memorial Clare Stages – Photo – Dermot Kellaher

Ian Roche/Anthony Nestor brought their Impreza WRC into 4th, Declan McCrory/Stephen O’Hanlon (Fiesta R5) were 5th and Aidan Wray/Kieran McGrath did well to bring their GpN Lancer Evo 10 into 6th o/a. Third placed Ian Barrett took the accolade for highest 2wd finisher, while best Escort tag went to Sean Moran in 12th o/a and a class winner. Ed Synan/Tom Collins in their Subaru Impreza WRC had a bit of an overheating issue on the opening stage then put in some decent times until a gearbox worry brought their rally to a premature end. Mike Quinn non-started following engine problems with his Subaru on the Wexford rally. Niall O’Sullivan/Sean Crowley won class 11F in their Citroen C2 and Niall O’Connell/Tommy O’Connor finished 1st in class 2 with their Citroen C2 R2 Max. Best Juniors were Cathal Nolan/Emel McNamara in their Civic and they won class 16. The other junior winners, who won class 16A and also drove a Civic, were Jake Lennon/Aaron Lennon.

Looking forward to this weekend’s Bushwhacker Rally, a counter in the NI Championship, there is certainly an interesting entry. Top drivers include current Championship leader Derek McGeehan in his Mini WRC, Connor McCloskey and Derek McGarrity in their respective Fiestas, Stephen Wright, who has a fighting chance of the Championship, Jock Armstrong, who makes the trip from Scotland to compete in his Subaru, with Graham Henderson co-driving. Drivers in two wheel drive machinery include Shane McGirr and Adrian Hetherington.

News this week includes young Oliver Solberg winning another rally in the USA, driving for Subaru America. As mentioned above, Roy White has won the West Coast Rally series following his Clare win, and former National Champion Roy and last year’s Cork 20 winner, told us that his racing overalls are washed and on top of the wardrobe in a bag until next year! Roy says he has no plans to change his 2010 Fiesta WRC, but at the same time he is keeping a close eye on the progress of the new Polo R5 and the latest Fiesta R5. Roy reckons his rallying schedule for next year will be something similar to this season.

Former GpN National and forestry champion Owen Murphy got married to Ciara (Deasey) last weekend at Thurles X. Very Best wishes to them for the future. Reportedly it was a very pleasant day indeed!

Niall O’Connell/Tommy O’Connor in their Citroen C2R2 Max have won the 2wd division of the West Coast Championship and we are happy to report that they were using Patterson Notes.

On the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally last weekend, Cornelius O’Sullivan/Aileen Kelly finished a very creditable 4th o/a in their Lancer, while John O’Sullivan/Shane Farrell were 7th in a Fiesta.

Looming large on the rally horizon, as well as the Omagh based Bushwhacker this weekend is the Cheviot Rally on Otterburn and also the McRae stages at Knockhill. Next weekend 27th/28th/29th September we have the Trackrod Rally in Yorkshire, the Cork ‘20’ and the iconic European Championship Cyprus Rally. The Cork ‘20’, as well as having fabulous stages, is shaping up to have a really good entry as well. Latest addition to the top entry which includes Callum Devine and Jonny Greer in Fiesta R5’s, along with Merion Evans in a Skoda R5 The biggest story is that Marty McCormack to drive one of the new Polo R5’s. This will be the Irish debut for the VW, which has already proved itself a winner in different parts of the world. The following weekend of course it is the turn of the WRC Wales Rally GB. We will have more news on all these next week.

Regards: Brian, Liz & Michael Patterson

Irish Notes 11th September 2019

Last weekend’s Lakeland Stages provided plenty of action, with Desi Henry/Damien Connolly in their Fiesta WRC keeping Sam Moffett/James Fulton (Fiesta) at bay, Desi winning by 22 seconds. Cathan McCourt/Barry McNulty kept their Fiesta R5 in the hunt throughout to emphasise their Valvoline Championship winning form this season to take 3rd, just 11 seconds behind Moffett. Vivian Hamill/Andrew Grennan had a good run to 4th in their Fiesta R5, Donagh Kelly/Conor Foley seemed to get to grips with their Fabia R5 and they were 5th, with Patrick O’Brien again showing a lot of class to take 6th in his Lancer. Thomas Nugent was co-driving for O’Brien. David Condell & co driver Paul Kelly were the top 2wd finishers in their Escort from John Gordon/Thomas Wedlock, also in an Escort.

Lakeland win sets Desi Henry up for a late title challenge.

David Crossen was the expected 2wd front runner but he damaged the steering rack of his Escort and the car snapped sideways exiting a stage 3 corner and his rally finished in the ditch. Also in a sheugh was Shane McGirr, his Starlet sliding off on a ‘6R>’, fortunately with no damage, but stuck. (Shane is still on course for the Galloway Hills Rally.) Adrian Hetherington also retired his Escort. Such was the pace over the Lakeland’s many big crests and dips, the retirement rate was high. Surmounting all the challenges, Kyle White/Sean Topping in their Peugeot 208 R2 won their class and achieved ‘best junior’ on the day tag. Marc Johnston/Colin Irvine won class 5 in their Escort and Stanley Orr/Graham Henderson in their Mk1 Escort RS1600 won class 10, best Historic.

The rally was a round of both the NI Championship and the Valvoline Irish Forest series. In the NI Championship Derek McGeehan, co-driven by his son Mark, still leads the points after finishing 13th. Derek told us that he took it fairly easy over the big jumps dips first time through, also finding the stages slippy. Second time through he gave his Mini WRC its head and in one place it virtually landed on its headlamps. He got away with it, but it was a reminder that even WRC cars have their limits. Besides which, Derek has the car hired to David Bogie for this weekend coming, to drive on the Galloway Hills. Derek McGarrity was one of Derek’s closest pursuers in the points table before the rally, but McGarrity retired his Fiesta somewhere around stage 4, reportedly with a damaged wheel. This leaves Stephen Wright as McGeehan’s closest pursuer. Stephen and his co-driver Arthur Kierans brought their Fiesta R5 home in 8th. There are still two rounds to go, which also means that Desi Henry could well come into the title race reckoning.

While competitors were battling through the forests in Fermanagh almost 100 cars were starting the VW Wexford Stages. James Stafford in his Darrian was able to cruise to victory following a massive battle with Andrew Purcell (Fiesta R5). Despite a stage 2 excursion into a field which also involved circumnavigating some cows, Purcell held the lead for a while on the Saturday. Purcell then had a spin on the final Saturday stage which meant Stafford held a slender lead on the Saturday night. Then on the 2nd Sunday stage Purcell, a comparative stranger to asphalt rallying, took a lefthander just a fraction too fast and put his Fiesta off the road and out of the rally. Stafford went on to win by almost 2 minutes from Stephen McCann (Fiesta R5), with Wesley Patterson a very accomplished 3rd in his Mk2 Escort, albeit a further 37 seconds back.

Meanwhile, while all this was going on in Ireland, there were two new closed road special stage events taking place across the Irish Sea. One of them was the ‘Three Shires’, where Martyn and Dawn England took a clear victory in their Fiesta R5. Their winning margin was almost 1minute 30 seconds over Andy Fraser/Alan Jones in a Darrian. Alex Allingham/Ross Weir were 3rd in their Escort, a further 36 seconds back.

Action on the Three Shires Rally

Osian Pryce triumphs on Rali Bae Ceredigion

Then on the Sunday the Rali Ceredigian took place, a landmark event as it was the first closed road special stage in Wales. Osian Pryce/Dale Furniss in a Hyundai R5 had a massive battle with Tom Cave/Dale Bowen, Pryce taking the win by 7.7 seconds after the 8 very demanding, very exciting stages. Cave did have some brake worries which didn’t help his cause. Hugh Hunter was in the top four but retired his Focus WRC with a broken clutch. Jason Pritchard/Phil Clarke were a brilliant 3rd in a Mk2 Escort, Damian Cole/Max Freeman (Fiesta WRC) 4th. (Cole’s company, ‘Get Connected’, also sponsored the rally). Meilyr Evans/Ruodri Evans were 5th, and Marty McCormack/Barney Mitchell 6th, both crews driving Mk2 Escorts. Notable retirements included Merion Evans who led after the first stage but put his Skoda off the road in stage 2, while Hugh Hunter’s Focus WRC suffered a broken clutch and Daniel Harper’s Mini WRC stopped with a broken driveshaft.

Looking forward to this weekend, the Galloway Hills rally takes place on Friday night and Saturday. In Turkey we have a round of the WRC, while at home the Dougie Hughes Memorial Clare Stages will run on this Sunday. On the latter event, former National Champion Roy White is the number 1 seed. Roy will drive his Fiesta WRC with James O’Brien co-driving. Behind White is a strong top line-up, with Ed Synan/Tom Collins at 2 in a Subaru Impreza WRC and Mike Quinn/Tony Healy at 3 in another Impreza WRC. At 4 is Ian Barrett/Paul McGee in a Darrian, with a similar machine at 5, to be driven by Kevin Gallagher. The top half dozen is rounded off by Aidan Wray/Kieran McGrath in their Mitsubishi Lancer. Ian Roche (Impreza WRC) JF Shovelin, Johno Doogan and John Bonner, all three in Escorts, make up the top ten. Just some of the interesting drivers/cars outside of that include Keith Lyons in his Fiesta R5, Gary McNamee at 17 in his Civic, Alan Callaghan at 19 in his Subaru and James Murphy at 20 in a Fiesta WRC.

Over in Scotland, for the British Championship finale Galloway Hills, which has moved its base from Castle Douglas to Dalbeattie, there is a mixed entry, with contenders in both the BRC and the Scottish Championship to face some classic stages. The BRC title fight is between defending Champion Matt Edwards and Tom Cave. In theory Edwards in his Fiesta R5 is well in front in the points race, but both drivers will play their joker which doubles their points for this rally – so both need a result! Cave will drive his Hyundai i20 R5. Just some of the drivers who are in with a chance of a good result include Alex Laffey, Jonny Greer, Alan Carmichael, Enda McCormick and James Wilson. David Bogie has decided not to go for BRC points and he will drive Derek McGeehan’s Mini WRC. There should be some hot action in the Junior division as well, even though Josh McErlean has the title sewn up. There is still a €60,000 prize to be picked up in the Ford Fiesta Trophy – Ruari Bell, James Williams and Finlay Retson are all in with a shout for that one. Also in Junior action will be William Creighton (Peugeot), Marty Gallagher (Fiesta) and Jordan Hone (Opel Adam).

Recently crowned Junior British Rally Champion Josh McErlean will contest Wales Rally GB (3-6 October) in a Hyundai i20 R5. McErlean, from Kilrea in Northern Ireland, sealed the British title on his home round of the BRC – the Today’s Ulster Rally last month – and will now contest Britain’s round of the FIA World Rally Championship in the latest specification R5 machine courtesy of Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing and the British Rally Championship.

Josh McErlean will drive a Hyundai i20 R5 on Wales Rally GB

News this week includes Elfyn Evans coming back for WRC action. Elfyn will have a new M-Sport Fiesta WRC for his return on Wales Rally GB. Elfyn’s back injury is now reportedly 100% ok, so no doubt he will be trying flat out to repeat his home win of a couple of years ago.

Former co-driver Michael Gibson and his wife Val ran in the Great North Run last weekend, a feat they have accomplished many times, and once again, along with several friends, raised a substantial amount for the Marie Curie Foundation. Michael still does the occasional rally with Neil Simpson. As has happened to so many co-drivers, a back injury some years ago meant Michael reducing his rally activities.

Coming up next week is the always popular Bushwhacker Forest Rally, the next round of the NI Stage Championship. This always popular forest event is as usual based in Omagh and despite losing the Carrickaholton Forest this year, Omagh MC has made up stage mileage with a route including both the Lough Braden stages and the Killeter forests.

The provisional winners after Wexford of the Hugo Loonam Motors Midlands East Rally Championship reads: 1st Billy Nolan & Shane O’Mahony 81 points, 2nd Ritchie Dalton & Jeff Case 75 points, 3rd James Stafford 74 points & Shane Gorman 71.5 pts.

The Cork ‘20’ rally is shifting its rally HQ hotel from Macroom to Little Island outside Cork as the Riverside Hotel unexpectedly closed a few weeks ago. As usual the Cork ‘20’ stages are an absolute delight, really brilliant, and the new more streamlined format should mean that a driver could complete his ‘recce’ in one day.

Regards: Brian, Liz & Michael Patterson

Irish Notes 4th September 2019

Irish Notes 4th September 2019


On last weekend’s Woodpecker it was Ollie Mellors who took the win from relative newcomer to 4wd, George Lepley. The latter was just 20 seconds down at the finish having set several fastest times in the latter part of this quite tough forest stage event. Stephen Petch was 3rd. Sean Devine, co-driven by Niall Burns in his Fiesta R5, made one of his now occasional rally outings and got a decent result, 15th o/a.  Marty McCormack was 17th o/a and 2nd Historic home in his Mk2 Escort. Barney Mitchell was co-driving for Marty. The Historics were won by Tom Llewellin, also in an Escort. Marty remarked after the rally, “It was hard to get back into the Mk 2 after the R5. There is a lot more driving in it, it was some shock on the first stage, steering heavy, arms aching! We started on the wrong tyres, dropped about 30 seconds. The stages were quite slippy. Still it was a valuable outing for the Roger Albert Clark.” Magherafelt man Marty went on to say that he is going to try a Mellors Motorsport Proton R5 this week, possibly to use on this coming weekend’s Ceredigion. His own Skoda R5 needs a shell after its tumble on the Ulster Rally.


Also last weekend the MG Car Club ran their Ulster Classic Trial through farmyards in Co. Down and David Cochrane/Ruth Steele in their MG Midget just pipped Will Corry/Adele Kennedy in a similar car for the win. Robert and Catherine Dickson were 3rd in a Morris Cooper S.


This weekend coming on the two day Wexford Rally, James M Stafford in his Darrian heads a 90 plus strong entry. Local man Stafford should have strong opposition, with Gary Kiernan at 2 in his Escort, Mike Quinn, again driving a Subaru WRC at 3. Richard Moore starts at 4 in an Escort and the top six is rounded off by Stephen McCann and Andrew Purcell, both in Fiesta R5s. Tomas O’Rourke at 7, this time driving a Hyundai i20 R5, should go well. Lisburn’s Wesley Patterson, who has lots of Wexford experience over the years, starts at 8 in his Escort, Richard Moffett (Starlet) is at 9 and the top 10 is completed by Kevin Barrett in his Subaru Impreza WRC. The rally is a counting round of the South East Stages Championship as well as the Midlands East series.


Also this weekend, on the Saturday the new Three Shires closed road event takes place and then on Sunday it’s the turn of the new Aberystwyth University based Get Connected Rali Bae Ceredigion, the first closed road special stage rally in Wales. As well as a top class entry, the organisers are throwing the kitchen sink at the Welsh event in terms of press coverage. In the middle of all this is the Fermanagh Lakelands Rally, a counter in the Valvoline Forestry Championship as well as the McGrady Insurance NI series. Top seeds are :- (1) Sam Moffett/James Fulton (Fiesta R5):  (2)  Desi Henry/Damien Connolly (Fiesta WRC); (3) Vivian Hamill/Andrew Grennan (Fiesta R5): 4 Cathan McCourt/Barry McNulty (Fiesta R5): 5 Donagh Kelly/Conor Foley (Fabia R5): (6) Derek McGarrity/Paddy Robinson (Fiesta WRC): 7 Patrick O’Brien/Thomas Nugent (Lancer): 8 Kenny McKinstry/Kenny Hull (Fiesta R5): 9 Niall Henry/Damien Duffin (Citroen R5) & 10 Derek McGeehan/Mark McGeehan (Fiesta WRC). The latter crew, father and son team Derek and Mark McGeehan, currently lead the NI Championship points table, with Derek McGarrity and Stephen Wright chasing hard. Multiple former Champion McGarrity has had one ‘non score’ this season, as has Stephen Wright, so in a way this increases the pressure on McGeehan. Stephen is seeded down the order a bit; his Fiesta R5 allocated the number 17. Arthur Kierans will co-drive.

An interesting addition to the equation at the front is the addition of Desi Henry. He has only contested one round this season, the Maiden City Stages, which he won, so his Fiesta WRC should be right up with the leaders on this Saturday’s six stages through the woods. John Devlin currently leads the points in the two wheel drive section of the NI Championship. However John has been having a good run on some Tarmac series events outside Ireland with his Escort, and will miss the Lakeland. This leaves the door open somewhat for James Kennedy, Drew Stewart and Kyle White.


In the Valvoline series, Cathan McCourt has done enough to take the title for this year. There could be some excitement in the 2wd division, with pacesetter during the year David Crossen hoping to atone for a broken gearbox on the recent Cork event with a good performance here. Just some of the drivers who could make it hot for Crossen include David Condell, Adrian Hetherington, John Gordon and Paul McErlean, all in Escorts. Then there’s Shane McGirr, back in his pocket rocket Starlet. And of course there is Stanley Orr, who seems to forget he is driving a historic Mk1 Escort! We mentioned above that David Crossen leads the 2wd points. His nearest challenger is William Creighton, but his co-driver Liam Regan is driving his own rally car on the event, so William has not entered. There will still be plenty of action amongst the Junior drivers in the smaller category cars – just some include Derek Mackarel, Ruari Maguire, Kyle White, and several more.


Despite not running in the Lakeland Stages this weekend, William Creighton is the latest nominee for the Motorsport Ireland Young Rally Driver Award.

Wiliam Creighton – Latest nominee for Motorsport Ireland Young Rally Driver Award

News this week includes the decision announced by Ballynahinch MC that they will not run their Down Rally next year, in order to give the organising team a break. This is some indication of the stress and work involved in running a successful stage rally, especially on asphalt. It may also, although this denied, be an indicator that WRC Rally NI will happen at end of next summer. As matters stand at the moment, this is still far from definite – the FIA dates meeting has taken place, the opportunity is there, but in these uncertain political times, nailing down the complete package of relevant factors is not easy.


Events on the near horizon include WRC Turkey, the BRC Galloway Hills and the Clare Stages – all to take place over the weekend of 13th/14th 15th September. Then on the weekend 21st/22nd September we have the Bushwhacker Rally and then on 28th/29th September the Cork ‘20’. Both these latter events have rather streamlined their formats compared to last year. In the Bushwhacker’s case it is rather a matter of needs must as there is harvesting taking place, while the Cork event sees it as a matter of making the event more competitor friendly. 


Further stories include Frank Kelly heading to Belgium the weekend after Wexford for the very special Mk2 Escort Rally, and after that on to the San Marino Rally in Italy. Jack Newman is also tipped to be heading to Belgium to compete, as is Paul & Karl Reid, and Richard Whelan.


17 year old Oliver Solberg and his NI co-driver Aaron Johnston achieved yet another milestone last weekend when they clinched the Latvian and Baltic Rally Championship by finishing 2nd on the Estonian Louna-Eesti Rally.  Oliver missed out on winning the rally by just over 3 seconds, beaten by George Gross in a Fiesta WRC, 100hp stronger than Oliver’s VW Polo R5.


As expected Craig Breen and Paul Nagle will drive for Hyundai on the forthcoming Wales Rally GB.

 A few pics from last weekends very successful Donegal Deja Vu event.

Brian, Liz & Michael Patterson