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MARTY AND CARON WIN SPERRINS

Marty McCormack and his niece Caron were the winners of an extremely tough Tour of the Sperrins Rally last month. The local pair were in a Skoda Fabia S2000 which wasn’t the most powerful car to start the gravel event. Marty is concentrating on the British Championship this year.

Magherafelt and District Motor Club had put together a total of 9 stages some of which hadn’t been used for years. The rally was a counting round of both the Northern Ireland and the Irish Forest championships. An entry of 72 started from Rally HQ, Walsh’s Hotel in Maghera Co.Derry.

Victor Lyness and I were on radio duty at the start of SS3/7 Wolf’s Hill in the Davagh Forest complex which is in Co.Tyrone near Draperstown. The test was 4 miles long. No major problems occurred during the two runs despite the bad weather. We had persistent rain for most of the day. Amongst the casualties were rally leaders at the time Desi Henry/Liam Moynihan. They were just a handful of seconds ahead of McCormack when the Antrim crew put their newer Fabia R5 into a ditch and out of the rally on stage seven.

So; second overall went to rally sponsor Derek McGeehan with Arthur Kierans in a Mini WRC. Third was Michael Carbin and co-driver Darragh Kelly who took maximum points in the Valvoline Irish Forest Championship with their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9.

Derek McGarrity had a torrid time and could only finish 41st after incurring a 10 minute penalty when his Fiesta WRC overheated and he failed to start stage one on time. Even so McGarrity still leads the Northern Ireland Championship as few of his nearest challengers finished the rally. Only 47 cars finished the Tour of the Sperrins. BMMC/BRMC covered marshalling, timekeeping, radio and rescue duties.

TONER WINS LOUGHGALL AGAIN

Last year’s winner Damian Toner and co-driver Denver Rafferty won the Loughgall Country Park Rally in their Ford Escort Mk.2 by 22 seconds from the Escort Mk.1 of Keith White/Damian McCann.

Fifty seven 2-wheel-drive cars (33 of which were Mk.2’s) started the six-stage tarmac event while 50 made it to the finish. The weather was largely dry but a few hefty showers made conditions slippery at times.

One crew who got caught out near my mid-stage radio point were Dermot Murray/Paul Tumilty. On the second stage their Escort Mk.2 left the road and took out quite a substantial tree by the roots before coming to rest on the nearby golf course. The car was badly damaged but thankfully neither crew suffered any injuries. The rest of the rally ran smoothly and without any further major incidents, managed to finish ahead of schedule! We BMMC/BRMC marshals were covering radio points as well as marshalling duties.

TARGA RALLY IS WELL POLICED

A busy month of May for yours truly was rounded off by timekeeping on the Police Motor Club’s Woodside Group Targa Rally. Last year this event had to be cancelled due to lack of entries. No such problems this time. A healthy entry of 67 competitors took the start line at the Ballinderry Inn in Co.Antrim. We as a club supplied marshals as well as timekeepers.

A total of 20 tests were the order of the day, most in farmyards or lanes. I was sent to test 7/14 which turned out to be a mile-long loose surface lane running through two farmyards with a long grassy finish straight. To keep speeds down the competitors had to stop and start twice mid-test. At the second “stop box” they had to collect a playing card which they then had to present to me on the finish line. Even so some of the quick boys were almost touching 70mph on the final straight! Many thanks to Larne Motor Club members who ran the test and particularly to Adam, a very pleasant young man who helped me on the finish control. Clubs need more young people on board!

Of the 62 starters 32 were in Mazda MX5’s which appears to be the idea car for this type of event. As the cars are cheap to buy and run this basic form of motorsport is very popular here in Northern Ireland at present. Almost ALL Motor Clubs in the ANICC are now running a Targa Rally. The only downside is that the events are proving to be very competitive and as many of the cars are soft-tops and most are without roll cages, there may be a safety issue here!

Anyhow the day went well. The weather was excellent which made our job as timekeepers/marshals all the more pleasant. The competitors really liked tests 7/14 and seemed to enjoy the whole event. Well done to winners David Crothers and Barbara Kane whose Mazda MX5 finished just 4 seconds ahead of Eamon Byrne and Robert Dickson’s Toyota Starlet. 57 cars made the finish.

Rally Diary

SAT.11TH JUNE
MODERN TYRES MOURNE RALLY

Round 4 of the MSA ANICC Northern Ireland Rally Championship. We will be covering timekeeping, radio and stage marshalling on this closed-road tarmac event organised by Newry and District MC. There will be a total of 9 stages (3 run three times) in Co.Armagh. SS1/4/7 Black Hill: SS2/5/8 Dead Man’s Hill and SS3/6/9 Ballydougherty.

FRI.17TH-SUN.19TH JUNE
JOULE DONEGAL INTERNATIONAL RALLY

Round 5 of the Irish Tarmac Championship. I will be timekeeping as will other BMMC/BRMC club members. We are also providing stage marshals on this Donegal MC event. A maximum entry of 150 has been received for the main event. Garry Jennings, who won last year, is top of the list in his usual Subaru Impreza WRC, followed by Donagh Kelly in a Focus WRC and Declan Boyle’s Fiesta WRC. Eugene Donnelly makes a welcome return in a Mini WRC at number 4. Top R5 car is Championship leader Alaistair Fisher at 6 in his Fiesta.

SAT.2ND JULY
ORCHARD MOTORSPORT LURGAN PARK RALLY

We will be covering all the fire points as usual in Lurgan Park. Organised by North Armagh MC some of our club members will also be involved with rescue and radio duties. Sign-on is usually 8am with breakfast and a packed lunch provided.