Class 10 competitors Paul Gallagher and Karl Reid are the new leaders of the Four Seasons Hotel Border Rally Championship after another impressive Class win at the Mourne Rally to fully endorse 'the Clubman Championship' tag the six round...
Class 10 competitors Paul Gallagher and Karl Reid are the new leaders of the Four Seasons Hotel Border Rally Championship after another impressive Class win at the Mourne Rally to fully endorse 'the Clubman Championship' tag the six round series enjoys. In their 1600cc Toyota Corolla, the Letterkenny pairing have now recorded maximum points in each round held to date in Mayo, Monaghan, Cavan and Newry to accumulate 38 points, 5 points ahead of nearest rivals Mickey McArdle and Gerry McMonagle (Castleblaney) in a BMW M3. Monaghan's Mac McKenna, who along with John Loughran (Peugeot 205) on 29 points, led the Championship going into the Mourne Rally, slip down to third overall as they did not compete in the Newry based event. But as the competitors best four rounds (from six) count, the Championship standings are likely to change once more after the next round held in Sligo on July 23rd.
Organised by Newry & District Motor Club, the Mourne Rally, Round 5 of the Northern Irish Rally Championship attracted a near capacity entry with over 120 starters led away by Robin Phillips (Toyota Celica), who was going for his third Mourne win on the trot.
Throughout the 12 Special Stage event held around the Cooley Mountains and Camlough region, tremendous battles ensued down through the Classes with many Border Series campaigners featuring in the Top 10 leaderboard all day.
Putting up the strongest challenge to Phillips hat-trick attempt was reigning Border Champion Davy Armstrong. With Herbie Armstrong on the notes in the ex-James Cullen Escort Cosworth, the local crew had a great run to second (behind Phillips) despite the odd scare or two such as hitting a wayward sheep on the final stage on the Cooley Mountains. With 26 points now chalked up from three events, the defending champions are still in with a shout of retaining their crown.
Third overall was Camillus Bradley and Danny O'Neill who took the two-wheel drive honours in their pristine Mark II Escort. The Derrymen hold the unique distinction of winning the first Tarmac Rally of this millennium at the Sligo Single Stage Rally last January. Their Class 11A winning run in Newry was hard earned as '99 Border Series runner-up Glenn Allen (Cookstown) was in hot pursuit throughout. With new co-driver Eugene Donnelly alongside, Allen's 9 points gained puts him just one point behind the Class leader Mac McKenna in the quest for the Derryveagh Crystal sponsored Brian McGrath Memorial Trophy dedicated to this category. Alan Nesbitt (brother of Tarmac Championship leader Andrew) set the early pace in Class 12 for modified cars (from 2051cc to 3500cc) and recorded the joint fastest time on Special Stage 5 at Camlough. Navigated by David Smith, the Armagh crew in an Escort G3 excelled over the final loop of four stages to finish 7th overall and take the Class win from Mickey McArdle. Having sorted out the brake problem on his BMW M3, McArdle gave it everything but at the end of the day had to settle for 8th overall (just 4 seconds behind Nesbitt). This result leaves the Monaghan Garageman in second place in overall classification standings.
The Group N category for over 2000cc cars always has a serious competitive edge at every rally and this event was no exception. The Cairns brothers John and James from Strabane led this Showroom Class practically all day and featured in the Top 10 leaderboard in the latter part of the rally. Then, on Special Stage 12 the gearbox on their Subaru Impreza gave way which cost them over 2 minutes and the coveted Class 4 honours. Luckily, eventual winners Richard Hogg (Mitsubishi Lancer) was not registered for the Border and the Cairns brothers netted 7 points from the fourth in Class finish.
The happiest crew returning to rally headquarters at the Mourne County Hotel was undoubtedly Paul Gallagher and Karl Reid as they knew that the Class 10 win was enough to elevate them to the top of the leaderboard in the chase for the Derryveagh Crystal Perpetual Trophy. The formidable partnership followed up their good run in the Donegal International to come home 15th overall in their Toyota Corolla.
Other category winners included Trevor Morrow and Killian Duffy (Ballina) in a Class 1 Suzuki Swift; Alyn Spiers and Manus Lappin (Market Hill) in a Class 5 Suzuki Swift and Brian Black and Kenneth Moffett (Keady) in a Class 9 Toyota Starlet. Roger Kennedy and Paul Docherty (Nuttscorner) got a competitive run (at last!) and took maximum points in Class 3, while, '97 Class 1 Champions Alan White and Brian Sharkey's move to the more powerful Class 7 is just as successful after securing their second Class win in a row since Cavan.
One of the best drives of the day was achieved by Border Registrar John Duffy and John Egan in their Standard Production Toyota Corolla. The Mayo & District Motorsport Club's Secretary's charging run up through the field to finish 37th overall resulted in the Class 14B win and leaves him just 2 points behind fellow Club member James McGreal who leads the Class on 25 points.
The Four Seasons Border Championship cavalcade returns to Connaught on July 23rd for the Tom Hunt Motors/Sligo Park Hotel Sligo Stages Rally where 90 competitive miles await. <pre> Class Leaders after Round 4 - Mourne
Class / Driver / Address / Points / Navigator / Points
1. D. McBride (Convoy) 26 Points / J. Gallagher 26 points 2. S. Darcy (Bruckless) 11 Points / T. Bustard 11 Points 3. R. Kennedy (Nuttscorner) 17 Points / P. Docherty 17 Points 4. J. Cairns (Strabane) 17 Points / J. Cairns 17 Points P. Elliot (Cavan) 17 Points / M. Cahill 17 Points 5. A. Spiers (Market Hill) 17 Points / M. Lappin 17 points 6. D. McCauley (Derry) 19 Points / B. Cleary 15 Points 7. A. White (Dromiskin) 25 Points . B. Sharkey 25 Points 8. P. Harris (Convoy) 10 Points / E. O'Donnell 10 Points T. McNulty (Summerhill) 10 Points / J. Nagle 10 Points 9. D. Fay (Ardee) 20 Points / M. Fay 20 Points T. McCreesh (Newry) 20 Points / R. Munnis 20 points 10. P. Gallagher (Letterkenny) 38 Points / K. Reid 38 points 11. R. Drury (Bailieboro) 20 Points / D. McArdle 17 Points 12. M. McArdle (Castleblaney) 33 Points / G. McMonagle 33 Points 13. D. Armstrong (Newry) 26 Points / H. Blackburn 26 Points 11A. M. McKenna (Emyvale) 29 Points / J. Loughran 29 Points 14B. J. McGreal (Foxford) 25 Points / J. Egan 23 Points
Forthcoming Rounds of the Four Seasons Hotel (Monaghan) Border Rally Championship
July 23rd - Sligo Stages Rally October 14th - Donegal Harvest Rally
Check out the Four Seasons Border Championship link on Mayo & District Motorsport Club's website: www.mayo-motorsport-club.com