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TORR HEAD DECIDES THE GLENS RALLY

The Glens of Antrim Rally organised by Mid Antrim MC last month should have been an excellent addition to the MSA Northern Ireland Championship. Instead it turned out to be a huge disappointment for the leading drivers.

Held over two runs of three classic tarmac stages Pollan, Glendun and Torr Head the organisers failed to include extra chicanes on the first two tests which led to the faster top 3 cars beating the minimum “bogey” time on both runs. This meant that the torturous Torr Head stage decided the outcome of the rally with Jonny Greer in his Citroen DS3 R5 beating Derek McGarrity’s Fiesta WRC by 10 seconds first time round and then 11 seconds on the final run. Just shows how the supposedly less powerful current R5 cars have the potential to defeat World Rally Cars in certain circumstances.

Alan Carmichael was third in a WRC Mini, he also beat the bogey on the same four tests. The rest of the 92 car entry had no problems with the times.

We were timkeeping at the finish of the Pollan stage and with the cars running at one minute intervals there were no difficulties. 77 cars finished the rally back in Ballycastle. The weather was cold but dry on this early May Saturday.

Let’s hope Jonny Greer decides to continue with this Championship as he represents the best challenge to current champion Derek McGarrity. Round one winner Greer has 24 points while Derek has 32. Round four is next, the Tyrone Stages in July, which will also be held over closed road stages. Following that we are into the forests of Fermanagh, Tyrone and Down to complete the seven round series.

Rally Diary

SAT. 3RD JUNE
CULTRA HILL CLIMB

Ok maybe not a rally but of special interest this year as the TSCC(NI) event marks the launch of eRally in Northern Ireland. Thanks to Tony Gregory for this information. eRally’s fully electric rally car is based on the Renault Zoe and is the first fully-electric rally car to be inspected for a competition log book. During the day, the team will be doing demo runs up the technical hill climb course, with ex-Juniors rally drivers at the wheel. The Zoe will form the blue-print for future eRally cars, which will give futher help and support to the many Junior Rally Championships throughout the UK. These championships for 14-17 year olds are vital in nurturing future rally talent in the UK. The eRally Zoe is aimed at brining new drivers and sponsors to these various series and help future-proof the sport. The Cultra Hill Climb is a round of the Northern Ireland Hill Climb Championship and takes place in the grounds of the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. It starts from 10am. Expect BMMC marshals to be out in force.

FRI. 16TH- SUN. 18TH JUNE
DONEGAL INTERNATIONAL RALLY

Organised by Donegal MC and sponsored once again by Joule this is the most popular round of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship. All the top drivers in Ireland and beyond will descend on Letterkenny for what promises to be a great summer weekend in the county. We will be providing timekeepers and marshals for the three-day event. Entries include last year’s winner Manus Kelly and former winners Garry Jennings and Declan Boyle in their World Rally Cars. Main interest though will centre around the Championship which only allows R5 cars to compete for points at the top level. Sam and Josh Moffett plus Alastair Fisher will be among the leading lights here. The modified class (for 2-wheel drive Escorts and Corollas) is always well supported in Donegal. A capacity entry of 150 cars can be expected.

SAT. 8TH JULY
LOUGHGALL COUNTRY PARK RALLY

Organised by North Armagh Motor Club and sponsored by Rainbow Communications, this annual event is a natural replacement this year for the cancelled Lurgan Park Rally. We will be providing radio operators and marshal cover for the event. For the first time the club is accepting entries from 4-wheel drive competitors (including WRC’s) as well as the usual 2-wheel drive machinery. The six stages are all-tarmac and the first car starts at 09.30. We will probably be required to Sign-on from 7am. (check with the club for these details nearer the time).