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JENNINGS TO THE “FOUR”AGAIN IN LURGAN

Garry Jennings won the 2016 Lurgan Park Rally last month. This was the Kesh driver and his co-driver Michael Moran’s fourth win in a row at the popular Co. Armagh venue. The car was Garry’s usual Subaru Impreza S12B WRC, engine rebuilt after his stage one Donegal retirement. In fact that particular S12B has won here five times. Kevin Lynch drove it to victory in 2008.

Kenny McKinstry was second again this year, as he was in 2015, with his newer S14 Subaru. Noel Orr accompanied the Banbridge man as he has done so many times in the past. In fact the pair won twice in 2000 and 2003. McKinstry has of course had 11 victories here but the 12th still eludes the “King of the Park”. Kenny finished the short 8-stage event 13.9 seconds behind the flying Jennings.

Declan Boyle returned to the park after a few years, but this time in his Fiesta WRC as apposed to an Escort Mk.2. Boyle and his usual co-driver, cousin Brian, finished third ahead of Derek McGeehan’s Mini WRC and Derek McGarrity who was in his Fiesta WRC. Stuart Biggerstaff brought the family Subaru S9 home in sixth while Robert Woodside was seventh in his new Fiesta R5, just .1 of a second ahead of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo.9 driven by Pat O’Connell.

Top two-wheel-driver finisher and winner of the Escort Mk.2 Challenge was the on-form Damian Toner from Armagh and co-driven by Thomas Treanor. Keith White and Frank Kelly were second and third in class.

For us fire marshals (two of us also covered radio points) the day was uneventful, in fact there were very few incidents. Of the 49 starters 45 cars made it to the end of the final stage. The bad weather in the morning kept the crowds down and although things brightened up considerably in the afternoon, this was the lowest number of spectators I had seen for some time. A long way from the 10,000 who flocked to the park in the glory days! Perhaps the format needs shaking up. Maybe next year there will be more of the evenly-matched R5 type cars and we might see a bit of a battle for the win! This year was predictable with the 2-litre WRC cars dominating at the front followed by the smaller 1.6 World Rally Cars. Even the Escort’s weren’t as entertaining as usual!

Anyhow, I would just like to thank all of our BMMC/BRMC marshals who signed on and helped make the 2016 Lurgan Park Rally a successful and particularly save event. This had been my 36th year assisting North Armagh Motor Club in the park and my 20th year as Fire Officer.

Rally Diary

FRI.19th/SAT.20th AUGUST. 
THE ULSTER RALLY.

Sponsored for the next three years by John Mulholland Motors, the 2016 Ulster Rally will be based in Londonderry at Ebrington Square. Expect a capacity entry as the event is a round of the British Rally Championship as well as the Irish Tarmac and Northern Ireland Championships. The stages will be in counties Derry and Tyrone and include the infamous Rousky plus many other well used classic tarmac tests. Although I will not be there due to my youngest getting married that weekend, I know lots of marshals will be signed on for two days of fast exciting action. Good luck to you all whatever you are doing. Timekeeping, radio cover, rescue crew or stage marshalling.

SAT. 3rd SEPTEMBER. 
LAKELAND STAGES RALLY.

Listed as a reserve round of the Northern Ireland Championship this year, the Enniskillen MC’s Lakeland Stages Rally is round 5 of the 2016 Irish National Forest Rally Championship. Expect the usual gravel tests close to Derrygonnelly and Belcoo with a finish in Enniskillen. We will be asked for assistance as usual.