"Bringing it all back home" to use a TV programme title from recent years is one way to describe the Four Seasons Hotel Border Rally Championship as it paid its annual visit to its home town for the Monaghan Stages Rally. True to form, the ...
"Bringing it all back home" to use a TV programme title from recent years is one way to describe the Four Seasons Hotel Border Rally Championship as it paid its annual visit to its home town for the Monaghan Stages Rally. True to form, the popular 'Clubman Championship' once again provided the opportunity for competitors lower down the field to shine plus of course the chance to lift the Derryveagh Crystal Perpetual Trophy.
With two rounds of out six now complete at the Monaghan event, six crews scored the maximum 10 points from their respective classes to stamp some authority in the quest for the overall prize. However, four crews head up the points table after achieving further success in class since the opening round in Mayo on the 12th March. By the time Round 3 comes around in Cavan on the 28th May, it will be interesting to see if more Border Championship contenders emerge.
Among the early Four Seasons challengers are Mac McKenna and John Loughran from Emyvale who must surely receive the 'Performance of the Day Award' for their excellent achievement in finishing 4th overall in a Peugeot 205 GTi. With Cookstown's Glenn Allen and Adrian Johnson (Escort) not completing the 9 Special Stages, McKenna's fellow Monaghan crew of Maurice Moffett and Gavin Campbell (7th overall) are next in line in Class 11A, three points in arrears with 16 points.
Dara and Michael Fay from Ardee had a good run in Class 9 in a Suzuki Swift to finish along with the first twenty home and along with it the all important class win. However, seasoned Border challenger, Tom McCreesh, along with Richard Munnis proved the point that 'the car in front is a Toyota' as their Starlet recorded 30th position overall and 2nd in Class to leave the Newrymen leading Class 9 and also jointly share top spot on the leaderboard with 19 points.
Also among the leading favourites for the overall title is Foxford's James McGreal after chalking up another 'half score' of points in his Nissan Sunny GTi-R. On the day James (competing in Class 14B) had one of the youngest co-drivers in 17 year old Killian Duffy from Crossmolina, who took to the task in a very professional manner. Look out Nicky Grist!
Dermot McGrady's (Peugeot 106) win in Class 6 now leaves four crews on equal standing with 10 points accumulated from the two rounds held to date. With Paul Flanagan on the notes, the Derry duo held off the challenge from Cavan's Denis Nixon and Andrew Gould (Honda Civic) but the shoe may be on the other foot as the next round is on Nixon and Gould's home turf.
That leaves Danny McBride and Jonathan Gallagher the remaining crew currently sharing the No. 1 slot in the points classification. In a Suzuki Swift the Convoy, County Donegal partnership crossed the finish ramp in 28th position and gained 9 points for the class win. Collectively breathing down the necks of the leaders are Paul Gallagher and Karl Reid, Letterkenny, Toyota Corolla, Class 10 with 18 points and Mayo's John Duffy and John Egan in Class 14B (Toyota Corolla), two points further back.
Another local driver Mickey McArdle with Gerry McMonagle (Castleblaney) on the notes got the best out of the BMW M3 with a top 10 finish and better still the Class 12 win. This leaves the Castleblaney men in the chasing pack with 17 points.
After crashing out of the Mayo Stages, Letterkenny's Andrew Stewart and Gerard Callaghan (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO) were more than pleased with 8th overall and the 10 points won in the ultra-competitive Group N or Showroom Class.
Reigning Border champion, David Armstrong, made a welcome return to competitive rallying after sustaining a shoulder injury while on a skiing holiday. The Newry man got his 2000 season campaign off to a successful stand with third overall in the ex-James Cullen Escort Cosworth despite navigator Herbie Blackburn experiencing some sea sickness during the constant downpours at the Monaghan rally! The '99 champs tie with Mayo & District Motorsport Club's Rory O'Connor and Francis Kenny on 10 points. No doubt Herbie will have taken some 'Sea Legs' prior to the Cavan Rally!
<pre> Class Leaders after Round 2 - Monaghan
Class / Driver / Address / Points / Navigator / Points
1.. D. McBride (Convoy) 19 Points / J. Gallagher 19 points 2.. 2. S. Darcy (Bruckless) 10 Points / T. Bustard 10 Points 3.. R. Kennedy (Nuttscorner) 9 Points / P. Docherty 9 Points 4.. M. Howley (Dunkinelly) 13 Points / D. Jarvis 13 Points 5.. B. Docherty (Strabane) 11 Points / M. Lappin 9 Points 6.. S. Gallagher (Letterkenny) 10 Points / P. Leahy 10 Points
D. McGeady (Derry) 10 Points / P. Flanagan 10 Points D. Nixon (Cavan) 10 Points / A. Gould 10 Points D. McCauley (Derry) 10 Points / C. Hampson 10 Points
7.. P. Meehan (Mountcharles) 15 Points / B. Sharkey 9 Points 8.. P. Harris (Convoy) 9 Points / E. O'Donnell 9 Points 9.. T. McCreesh (Newry) 19 Points / R. Munnis 19 points 10.. P. Gallagher (Letterkenny) 18 Points / K. Reid 18 points 11.. R. Drury (Bailieboro) 11 Points / S. Moffett 11 Points
T. Vallelly (Armagh) 11 Points / D. McArdle 11 Points
12.. M. McArdle (Castleblaney) 17 Points / G. McMonagle 17 Points 13.. R. O'Connor (Ballyhaunis) 10 Points / F. Kenny 10 Points
D. Armstrong (Newry) 10 Points / H. Blackburn 10 Points
11A. M. McKenna (Emyvale) 19 Points / L. Loughran 19 Points
14B. J. McGreal (Foxford) 19 Points / J. Egan (16 Points)
Forthcoming Rounds of the 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