February sees the start of the rally year proper in Northern Ireland. First up we have the Pacenotes Rally Magazine Stages on Saturday 15th. This is round one of the new look Northern Ireland Rally Championship. Just five sealed surface rounds are scheduled to take place between now and the middle of July. If a round should fail to run there are NO reserves events planned this year.
The other major series to start in February will be the Association of Northern Ireland Car Club’s Gravel Rally Challenge. Four rounds are planned with the Samsonas Rally Fivemiletown first off on the 22nd of the month. The other events will not run until September and November.
Looking further ahead: After an absence of four years, a famous name is back on the calendar. The Circuit of Ireland Rally returns at Easter (10-11April). Not a proper “Circuit” of old though, so the name is misleading. The UAC organised Northern Ireland based event will use virtually the same stages in counties Antrim and Down as last year’s Easter Stages Rally. This will be round three of the 2020 Irish Tarmac Championship.
The three-day Donegal International Rally will take place in June (19-21) and the one-day-only Ulster Rally is back on Saturday 22 August. Both these events are part of the ITRC. The Ulster is a counting round of the 2020 British Rally Championship.
Colin Rossborough presented Kenny Colbert with the BMRMC(NI) 1989 Driver of the Year Award at the ANICC do in the Carngrove Hotel in Portadown. Also in January, Dermot Carnegie was the star performer at the second round of the Roma Hamills Restaurant sponsored Kirkistown Winter Rallycross Championship. The event was dominated by Metro 6R4 drivers with Denis Biggerstaff second and Robert Moffett third. All of the drivers agreed that Kirkistown had the best Rallycross circuit in Ireland.
Wesley Patterson won his first ever rally as he claimed victory in his Ford Sierra Cosworth on the 2000 New Year Stages at Kirkistown in January. We had over 20 marshals helping with timekeeping and other duties on the day. More than 50 competitors finished the six-stage event.
Derek McGeehan dominated the 500 MRCI New Year Stages at Kirkistown in January 2010. The Draperstown preparation expert was driving Tim McNulty’s new state-of-the-art Subaru Impreza S12B WRC. McGeehan would be fettling the car this year for Tim as he mounts yet another challenge for the Irish Tarmac Championship. The New Year Stages started back in 1997 and in 2010 had a field of 72 competitors. Amazingly there were 69 finishers after the six stages.
In second place, just 23 seconds back from McGeehan, was 21-year-old Stuart Biggerstaff. This was a remarkable result for the young Dromara man as he was driving in his FIRST EVER RALLY! The son of former NI Champion Denis Biggerstaff, Stuart was in his Dad’s Subaru Impreza S9 WRC, quite a bit older than the winning S12B! Back in 2006 Denis Biggerstaff won the New Year Stages with young Stuart in the co-drivers seat.
Making in a Subaru 1-2-3 was Gary White who increased his pace in the later stages to finish third in his Impreza Gp.A 555 example. Mark Massey was top Gp.N finisher in fourth place with his Mitsubishi Evo.8. The husband and wife team of James and co-driver Heather Kennedy won the opening round of the Pacenotes 2WD Challenge in their Mk.2 Escort.
I was Chief Timekeeper for the New Year Stages and had support from Goff, Fel, Billy, Rory and Victor. We were really struggling for marshals that year, but every stage ran on time and without any major problems. Ronnie Mitchell was COC and said after the event, “If it wasn’t for the BMMC timekeepers there would be no rally, simple as that”!
Organised by Mid Antrim Motor Club this event starts from the Rosspark Hotel in Kells. Expect the usual big entry of Mazda MX 5’s plus many others. We will be helping out with timing. Sign-on from 7am.
The first round of the 2020 Motorsport UK McGrady Insurance Northern Ireland Rally Championship. The six-stage single venue 95% sealed surface rally takes place within in the confines of the Kirkistown Race Circuit in Co.Down. Sign-on from 7am. The first car is due to start at 09.30. We will provide rescue personnel plus stage marshals on this North Armagh Motor Club event. The entries include current champion, Stephen Wright.
Round one of the new 2020 ANICC Gravel Rally Challenge. This event will use four familiar loose surface stages (run twice) to the south of Fivemiletown in Co.Tyrone. The rally should get a viable entry. We are covering radio, rescue, timekeepers and stage marshals. The rally is based at Fivemiletown College and Community Youth Annexe. Omagh Motor Club are the organisers and the first car is due to start at 9am.
Second round of the NI Rally Championship. Yet another sealed surface single venue rally. Based entirely at the Bishopscourt Race Circuit in South Down. We will be providing marshals and timekeepers on the day. Sign-on from 7am. The organisers are Ballynahinch and District Motor Club.
The British Rally Marshals Club (BRMC) has unveiled a new identity at Autosport International today (9thJanuary, 2020) as it embarks on a celebration of its 40th Anniversary this year.
The new look logo has been designed by club member Kim Durose following a competition open to all members to create a design that reflected a fresh, new, innovate and modern look for the BRMC.
Joining BRMC Chair John Jones for the official unveiling today was Malcom Wilson, Managing Director of M-Sport, who helped formally reveal the new club logo.
Speaking after the launch BRMC Chair John Jones said: “We were delighted with both the response we received from club members to the competition and the quality of entries.
“The committee particularly liked Kim’s submission and with a few tweaks at the graphic design stage we’re really pleased with the end result that we are launching today.
“Motorsport at every level relies heavily on the support of the volunteer marshals so it’s important we present a modern, innovative and forward-looking image to the wider public at events such as this when our key objective is recruiting new members.
“We look forward to celebrating the rest of the BRMC’s 40th Anniversary year and welcoming others to our club.
We were delighted Matt Edwards was able to join us at AutoSport International to present the inaugural Jimmy McRae Award.
The recipient, Ian Evans was surprised by the presentation. "I was speechless when Matt handed the trophy to me." Ian later said, "The award is not only for me but everyone who helps on the many events I am involved in. Thank You to all of you."
This award has been introduced to recognize the British Rally Marshals Club's Rally Marshal of the Year. It will be presented annually to a marshal whose contribution was above and beyond the normal duties expected of a marshal.