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GREER WINS BUT ALLEN STARS

Jonny Greer and Brian Crawford in their DGM Citroen DS3 R5 took a convincing win on the first round of the Northern Ireland Rally Championship. Held as usual at Kirkistown Race Circuit the North Armagh MC run event had attracted a start list of 78 competitors. Of these 67 finished. Six smooth almost all tarmac stages had been laid out ranging from 3.70 to 4.64 miles in length. The action was fast and furious. With the cars setting off at 30 second intervals at one time we counted no less than 12 on the stage at one time!

Sponsored once again by Pacenotes Rally Magazine the rally took place on Saturday 11th February, just two weeks after the New Year Stages at the same venue. Then it was Derek McGarrity who dominated proceedings. This time the 2016 Champion had to settle for second in the same Fiesta R5 13 seconds behind winner Greer. McGarrity had Robert Travers co-driving. Third place eventually fell to Peadar Hurson and Garry McElhinney who were out for the first time in a Fiesta WRC. Connor McCloskey had been third but his similar Fiesta retired on the penultimate test.

For me and the rest of our group of marshals at the circuit chicane the “Drive of the Day” came unquestionably from young Philip Allen. Driving a hired Mitsubishi Lancer Evo.10 the son of the late great Glenn Allen (Mr. Sideways) finished a fantastic 8th overall and top Group N car. This was Philip’s FIRST RALLY! He was seeded down at 39 but drove the big lumbering Evo. at ten tenths all day drifting around corners and getting sideways everywhere. In fact he should have finished seventh and ahead of the legend that is Kenny McKinstry but for a spin on the last stage. A star drive and let’s hope we see a lot more of this incredible talent. His Dad would have been so proud!

The weather was dry after a shower to start with but so cold. In fact in all the years I have been marshalling at Kirkistown this was one of the coldest days I can remember! We were well looked after with a full breakfast and hot lunch plus rewards for ALL marshals at the end of the day. Well done North Armagh!

This was Jonny Greer’s second NI Championship win, the other on the gravel of the Lakeland Stages a few years ago. Jonny told me after the event that his plans for this year weren’t sorted yet but he would have to decide whether to concentrate on the Irish Tarmac or British Championship. He retired on Galway last month so that may have an impact on his decision.

LURGAN PARK MOVES TO MAY;
BUT NEEDS SPONSOR

The very popular Lurgan Park Rally is due to run this year on Saturday 20th May but organising club North Armagh MC have yet to find a sponsor for the event. If they don’t find a supporter then the rally which has run each year since 1980 may not happen! For the last seven years Orchard Motorsport have been the headline sponsor.

LOOKING BACK

Marshalling memories

30 YEARS AGO..... 1987

Jimmy McRae was appointed President of the British Rally Marshals Club.

Our annual training day was due to be held at Annadale Association Sports Grounds, Upper Braniel Rd. Belfast on Sat. 21st March.

David Gillespie as Staffing Officer for the Circuit of Ireland was appealing for Marshals.

Our club was requesting ANICC clubs to give a least 6 weeks notice for manpower assistance on events.

In the “Rally Racing” Championship at Kirkistown (sponsored by Bertie Law) Fred Patterson in the big 3.5 litre Porsche ran out the winner with a hat trick of victories.

20 YEARS AGO.....1997

March 8th was the date set for our training day at Purdysburn.

Austin McHale won Galway from Eamonn Boland while the ’97 Circuit of Ireland would start from Bangor on 28th March. Sponsored by AA for the third year the rally would overnight on Friday and Saturday in Tallaght, South Dublin before returning to Bangor on Sunday night ready for a “Northern Loop” on Easter Monday when the Northern Ireland Championship runners would join in.

We had 12 marshals on duty at the Mid Antrim Motor Club’s Ballymena Showgrounds single venue rally in February. A dry day saw 60 cars provide a good day’s entertainment.

10 YEARS AGO.....2007

After just one year into a three year deal Meteor Electrical prematurely withdrew its sponsorship from the Circuit of Ireland Rally. This forced the Ulster Automobile Club to organise a two-day event at short notice. Known as the UAC Easter International Rally the event would take place over 12 stages in Co.Tyrone on Sat.7th and Sun.8th April.

Glenn Allen won the Mid Antrim MC’s Ballypatrick Stages Rally. Held in February over the tarmac tests in Ballypatrick and Ballycastle forest parks we were timing the four Ballycastle stages. The weather was cold and frosty which made the tests very slippery. Colm McFall was second in his Escort Cosworth only 5.5 seconds behind the winning Corolla WRC of Allen. George Robinson finished third in his Escort WRC. Only 32 started while 24 made it to the finish.

Two weeks after the Ballypatrick event we were marshalling at the opening round of the 2007 Northern Ireland Rally Championship. Organised by North Armagh MC the Eurocables Rally was held at Kirkistown. Winner here was Stephen Moore in his 2005 Ford Focus WRC. The Pomeroy driver finished the six stages just 3 seconds ahead of Glenn Allen’s Corolla WRC while Sean Devine was third in his Subaru S9. A massive 119 cars started and 96 finished.

Rally Diary

SAT. 11TH MARCH
BMMC/BRMC TRAINING DAY

This is a must for ALL marshals. Held at Kirkistown once again please sign-on by 9.30. Lunch and tea/coffee provided. With the MSA continuing to check marshal’s Personel Record cards to establish correct grades it is important that ALL marshals, whether upgrading on not, need to maintain PRC’s throughout the 2017 season. New PRC cards will be available on the day. I always learn something new at each training day! Jim Whitaker will preside as Chief MSA Trainer.