Mayo & District Motorsport Club were again among the prize winners at Connaught Motor Club's recent Loose Surface Autocross Championship in Ballisodare. In all, nine club competitors took part in this ever popular gravel event held at Harrington's Quarry on August 27th with four members Walter Burke, Brian Farrell, Cormac Hession and Trevor Morrow bringing home some silverware resulting from their successful day's outing.
Newly-wed Walter Burke emerged as top club finisher with a best overall time of 2 minutes 56.66 seconds over the 3 x 1 mile circuit and this was achieved in a borrowed car a Ford Fiesta (modified), owned by fellow clubman Brian Farrell! For his efforts, Walter from Williamstown took the honours in Class 7. The aforementioned Brian Farrell came home second in this class with his fastest time of 3.02.45 in the 1400cc-rear wheel drive Fiesta.
In Class 1, two generations of the Morrow family Trevor and his son Brian from Ballina made an obvious impression. Seasoned rally campaigner Trevor had a good run through the tight, twisty and sometimes slippery circuit to finish second in Class with 3.03.99. Brian usually sits in the navigator's seat in the Suzuki Swift but on this occasion co-drivers are not allowed and he had to go behind the wheel for the first time. After a cautious start a 3.16.63 time was recorded which was good enough for 4th in that Class.
Apart from Walter and Brian, Williamstown was also represented by the Deane brothers, Derek and Mervyn and Cormac Hession. All three found their respective Mark II Escorts difficult to control around the circuit with the Deanes counting the cost in more ways than one! Cormac's first run proved very entertaining for the large number of spectators as he battled to hold the classic Ford on the loose gravel surface. As conditions improved so too did Cormac's times as he gained over 50 seconds from the first run (3.55.15) to his third (3.04.86) to take third in Class 8. In the same Class, both Deane brothers had a clean first run with Derek the faster on 3.09.40 compared to Mervyn's 3.16.93. Alas, that was all the action they had for the day as Mervyn hit misfortune on his second run. As the Escort MKII sped out of Corner 1, he lost control and rolled the Ford on its roof. Thankfully, the solid structure (and the roll cage) of the car ensured that he escaped unhurt.
The Club's remaining interest in the event was with Sean McHugh and Jarlath Sweeney both from Claremorris. Competing in his Peugeot 205 GTi rally car, Sean of McHugh's Rally Crew was in with a shout of winning a prize in Class 2 but had to settle for 5th place in the end with his best time of 3.03.70 coming on the second run. In only his second competitive entry, Jarlath Sweeney had a fraught day. Driving Sean's Peugeot, the Club's Press Officer experienced his first ever 'off' during the heavy rain shower on the third lap of the first run and had to rely on the services of the recovery truck to pull down the black Peugeot 205 GTi from a bank of gravel before re-entering the fray. Conscious of what can happen at any time in rallying, Jarlath completed the other runs a little more carefully in 3.34.45 and 3.23.61.
The final round of Connaught Motor Club's Autocross Series will be held at the same venue on October 1st where Mayo & District Motorsport Club will again have a strong representation challenging for the top prizes.
Meanwhile, a fortnight earlier, August 13th four Club crews tasted the sweet smell of success at the Tipperary Stonethrowers Rally, Round 8 of the Dunlop National Rally Championship. Heading up the convoy was the unstoppable James McGreal and Killian Duffy from Foxford and Crossmolina respectively in their McCluskey Construction backed Nissan Sunny GTi-R. Their only challenge en route to Class 13 honours was from fellow Club members Sean McHugh and Keefe Kilcoyne (Bekan/Westport) in the Corrib Oil backed Peugeot 205 GTi who finished second. Both Mayo crews lie 1st and 2nd in the Standard Production Class in the National points table. Another Class winner on the day was the husband and wife team of Andrew Mullen and Elaine Doherty from Ballisodare. In taking the Class 1 trophy in their Sligo Pallet Supplies Suzuki Swift, Andrew and Elaine are second in the overall class standings.
The remaining crew competing for the Mayo Club was Kildare based Pat Price from Swinford. Driving his Advanced Roofing Mitsubishi Lancer EVO, Pat secured 4th place in the Showroom Group N Class 4 and remains 3rd overall in the Championship points classifications.
a.. Mayo & District Motorsport Club hold their next meeting on Wednesday next 6th September at the Downhill Hotel, Ballina at 9:30 p.m. Items on the Agenda include the forthcoming Navigation trial and the Club's outing to Mondello Park on September 17th for the Leinster Trophy meeting. All are welcome to attend.