The 2000 Four Seasons Border Rally Championship got off to a blistering start at the Mayo Stages Rally with over 200 drivers and navigators signing- on in the quest for the overall Perpetual Trophy and the Derryveagh Crystal sponsored by the Donegal firm.
Such is the high level of competition in this six round series supported by the Four Seasons Hotel & Leisure Club, Monaghan, that no less than eight crews recorded maximum points at the season opener in Ballina.
Starting with Class 1, Danny McBride and Jonathan Gallagher from Convoy (Suzuki Swift), have set the early pace in this Group N 1300cc category with 54th place overall to secure the 10 points. Seasoned campaigners Ernest McMillen with Dessi McGlade (Comber), (71st), lie second on 9 points.
Stuart Darcy and Trevor Bustard (Bruckless) also achieved the half score thanks to their Class 2 win and 27th overall in a Honda Civic. Darragh Raftery and Ollie Ward (Civic) from Craughwell (44th) slot in 2nd.
The next crew to record 10 points was in Class 6 where Letterkenny's Seamus Gallagher and Peter Leahy (Civic) came home inside the Top 20 with 18th overall and the class win ahead of David McCawley (Derry) in a similar car. (Seamus won this class award last year).
Moving to the ultra competitive Class9, Tom McCreesh (Newry) reigning class champion, got his 2000 season off to a good start with a finishing position inside the 40 mark with new co-driver Richard Munnis alongside in the Toyota Starlet. Adrian McElhinney/Sinead Gallagher (Donegal) keep the pressure on the leading pair going into the next round in Monaghan.
In the battle for the Brian McGrath Memorial Trophy in Class 11 (sponsored by Derryveagh Crystal) Bailieboromen Ray Drury and Stanley Moffett were triumphant in Mayo with a class win in their Escort and 26th overall. Peter Rahill (3rd prize winner in 1999) took the 9 points with 2nd in class to keep his fellow Cavan townsmen honest.
Rory O'Connor and Francis Kenny (Ballyhaunis) were the pride of the host club, Mayo & District Motorsport Club, not only from their Class 13 win but with their impressive 7th position overall in their Escort Cosworth.
Stewardstown's Glen Allen and Adrian Johnson (Escort) who came so close to taking the title last year launched another serious assault on the Series with a Class 11a win from 11th overall. Monaghan's Mac McKenna will push them all the way in his Peugeot 205, especially in his home event.
Rounding off the list of competitors to lift the 10 points in Mayo, John Hegarty and Oliver Harvey (Toyota Corolla) from Ramelton finished in 43rd place and won Class 14 with Mayo's James McGreal ('99 class winner) next up one point in arrears.
With defending Border Champion David Armstrong unavoidably absent due to a shoulder injury sustained while on a skiing holiday, the leading contenders will no doubt be pleased with the points cushion gained in Mayo as the championship moves to the Monaghan Stages Rally on April 16th.
2000 Four Seasons Hotel (Monaghan) Border Rally Championship
May 28th - Cavan Stages Rally June 24th - Rally of the Mournes July 9th - Sligo Stages Rally October 14th - Donegal Harvest Rally
Check out the Four Seasons Border Championship link on Mayo & District Motorsport Club's website: mayo-motorsport-club.com