The weekend of the 8th and 9th saw a number of Cavan Motor Club members head to the south east for the wexford stages rally. One of the premier 2 day rallies in the country always attracted a strong line up from across the waters with this year being no different. Travelling south for the weekend was a healthy sized group from the Cavan Motor club making the long trip down.
In class 13 and a crew well in with a shout of winning the 2 wheel drive section of the rally were Russell Woods and Gary Gallagher. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be for the crew suffering mechanical woes right from stage one with brake malities, After getting that sorted they continued on only to have a steering arm break on the car and causing them to run out of time. So the crew regrouped and set about regaining some honours on the Sunday run a section of the rally for people who retired on the first day. They set about to prove what they could do comprehensively leading the event until the second last stage when local Graham Scallon took 11 seconds out of them with his Subaru. This left it that Woods had to beat him by 6 or more seconds on the last but unfortunately he was piped to the post and finished an impressive 2nd overall in the in the mark2escort.com car which was some conciliation in the Sunday run.
Another class 13 representative fairing out slightly better was Chris Armstrong and Breen McNamee in the Ford Escort. The crew were in with a shout of having a really good run after showing great pace in previous excursions but it was proving to be tough for the CaLoos car as they encountered very tricky and changeable conditions all weekend. The crew were running well up the field having a big battle with the strong class 13 entry. So hot was the pace that the crew never dropped out of the top 10 overall all weekend. With a big push on Sunday morning they climbed up to 2nd in class where they would chip away at the class leader for the morning loop before overhauling them to take the lead of the class and an impressive 5th overall when they encountered an engine problem on the final and had to drive through it and hope to hold on. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to hold onto the class lead and they dropped to 3rd in class and 8th overall which was still an impressive result from the young Virginia man.
In class 12 Pauric Sheridan and Sean Brunton had a good steady run in their Raymond Drury prepared Escort. The crew started out as they meant to go on cutting out a lead in the class on the first stage. It was after that they had to dig deep and battle on as the class was hotly contested with the crew fluctuating between the top 3. By the end of Saturday they had regained the lead and were sitting comfortably in 36th position overall. On Sunday Pauric set about trying to stay ahead of the chasing pack but it wasn’t made easy for the crew as they once again shuttled between 1st and 3rd in class before pushing through the final stage to win the class and finish an impressive 42nd overall on their first trip to Wexford.
The Cavan Motor Club has had a long tradition of holding Autocross events at the Hutt’s Cross track just outside of Latton. It is here where many of the members first got a taste of competition in a rally car. On Sunday the 9th some of the more seasoned competitors made a return to their roots by competing in two sprint events. One in Sligo organised by the Connacht Motor Club and the other in Hutt’s Cross being organised by the North East Motor Club.
In Sligo two two men represented the club in the form of Seamus Cooke in his Ford Escort and Gerry McIntyre in his Toyota Starlet. With a new track layout and an unusual wet day it was a case of all bets were off as the regular locals hadn’t much advantage over the chasing pack. In class 1 it was Seamus Cooke who took on the highly competitive class against the “super” Vauxhall novas of locals Colin Currid and Phillip Harte. After a cautious start to get used to the track Seamus found his rhythem and from there on in started to set very competitive times with a result being sought from the best 2 or 3 times he eventually finished 3rd in class 1 and 12th overall
Gerry brought his Starlet down to try his hand at the new track in class 2. And also after a cautious and level headed start Gerry turned on the pace to compete against locals Patrick Herity and Sean Maloney setting very competitive times he was lying 2nd in class after the 2nd run but with Herity replying with a top 10 time to take the place back with Gerry finishing 3rd in class and 23rdoverall.
Meanwhile in Hutts Cross club members Adam Kinkade, Shane Marron and sponsor of the Cavan Championship Mervyn Wedlock were out in action. Shane Marron didn’t have such a successful day when he broke a halfshaft on the first run spelling an end to his day. In better luck was Adam Kinkade who was out in his Honda Civic competing directly with the man who leads the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship Darren Gass who had borrowed a civic for the day. Making no mistakes in treacherous conditions Adam ended up 3rd in class. Mervyn Wedlock who was out to dust off the cobwebs from not competing all summer he brought his Ford Escort out in the wet to get himself back up to speed. From the word go it was like he had never left as he started to put in some very competitive times in tricky conditions. Keeping a cool head and make no mistakes Mervyn walked off with the laurels with an overall win.
Saturday the 8th saw the running of one of the premier forestry rallies on this island.
The BJT Commercials Lakeland Stages Rally runs in the forests of west Fermanagh around the areas of Garrison and Derrygonnelly always a favourite with local crews and the competitors of the northern irish championship it attracted a competitive entry including Ballyconnell man Noel Lappin with Daire Maguire navigating him.
One of the top seeds for class 3 they were hoping for a good run to collect some trophies to bring back down south of the border. With the stages in prime condition the crew set about to try and get settled into a steady pace on a new stage that hadn’t been used in about 15 years which left it very slippy for the crews first on the road. With that in mind 2nd in class was a good start for the crew ahead some faster opposition. On stage 2 they made their intentions known in the Lappins Garage car by having a storming run through the stage to take the class lead and move up to 28th overall and still taking time out of more powerful opposition.
Things were starting to go well for the crew with the longest stage of the rally at 14 miles to go before service, but alas things came to an abrupt end when the engine let go in the middle of the stage leaving the crews hopes gone up in smoke on the side of the stage. An unfortunate end for what was promising to be another great run by Noel.
Cavan Motor Club would also like to thank their members who helped out on the event by marshalling.
Club member Gerry Buckley navigating Reggie Britton to 5th in class and an impressive 20th overall in the Lahti Historic Rally 2012 on the same stages as the Finish WRC event runs on the week previous.
August the 26th spelled the last weekend of a very un summer like couple of months for the Irish people but it also brought the Galway Summer Stages Rally.
As usual there was a strong Cavan Motor club contingent who travelled to the west in search of crystal, one such crew were the mark 2 escort sensation this year Chris Armstrong and Tommy Clinton.
With the King of the Mark 2 challenge awarding a generous prize for the first escort crew home it was a good invitation for Armstrong to mix it with some top crews. He didn’t delay in setting out his intentions by setting the 5th fastest time overall on the first stage and 2nd fastest in the class only 3 seconds behind local crew of Eamonn Dervan. This battle continued for the next 5 stages with a three way battle for top 2 wheel drive honours with Declan Gallagher throwing his hat into the ring.
Armstrong was holding off the pressure and continued to put on a great display of driving for a man with such little experience until a slight misjudgement on stage 7 saw him run out of road on a fast corner and drop off the road onto another road below. Upon inspection of the car to see if the crew could get going again they realised they had broken a steering arm which saw them retire on the spot. A tough end to a great run which impressed many.
In class 10 is was time for Gary Kiernan to show that it wasn’t just his brothers job to dominate the class on his outings with a comprehensive start to finish win in the class. After a cautious start lying 72nd overall after the first stage Gary and James Fulton set about climbing the leader board eventually coming home 38th overall.
Class 9 saw two crews heading for honours and had a heck of a battle with each other too. Justin Smyth and Gregory Mc Quillan were back to demonstrate their usual giant killing performance in the little 1400 engined escort. The task wasn’t as straight forward with Damian O’Reilly going for class honours as well with a new addition to the team in the form of navigator Paul O’Hare taking to the hot seat for his first event.
All thoughts of having a nice run on the first stage to get Paul settled in went out the window with a titanic battle getting underway with the pair of crews being separated by just 3 seconds after the first stage and from there on it was close running with the crews never being more than 12 seconds apart. A general pattern appeared too of one driver taking the initiative and the other playing catch up on the next stage before overhauling them and the process reversed. All was shaping up for a great battle until disaster struck the O’Reilly/O’Hare crew as a loss of concentration saw them slide off the road and get stuck in a ditch. A frustrating end with a small bit of damage left the crew thinking what might have been as they were lying 30th overall with 3 stages to go. Justin and Gregory could relax a little but still drove a great rally to finish a credible 19th overall and winning the class by over a minute.
A mixed day for the Cavan Motor Club men who travelled to Galway with two class wins and two non finishes but who were in class leading positions when they retired.
Sunday the 12th of August saw 2 motor club crews continue their chase for national championship glory. Round 6 of the Dunlop National Championship saw the class of 2012 resume battle after the mid summer break. With both Jonathan Pringle and Chris Snow in hot pursuit of overall championship wins it would prove to be another crucial chapter in the story of Irelands premier clubman championship. With Chris Snow and Sean Brunton looking to extend their lead in the National Junior Championship they set off from the Clonmel start running as J16 after a last minute entry to the event. From the word go it was a tough rally with lots of flooding and running water on the stages. It would also prove to start as a frustrating day with times for the first 3 stages being all over the place. This didn’t phase the crew as they continued to push hard in treacherous conditions balancing caution with speed. The plan worked with Chris leading the juniors by 13 seconds after the first 4 stages. With a battle on the cards for the rest of the day it would be a close run thing to the finish when disaster struck with a problem developing with the gearbox where the shaft kept slipping out. The boys could push it back in but it was impractical to push for the win so they were forced to just drive threw the final two stages to record a finish. On the bright side this means they still lead the championship with only 2 rounds left to go in Clare and Donegal.
For Jonathan Pringle and Martin Byrne the race was a lot closer with the Bailieborough crew trailing Frank Kelly for the overall 2 wheel drive championship honours by 13 points with 2 rounds to run.
The crew went to Tipperary with a view to having a nice steady run to collect more points without having any major mishaps or heart stopping moments on the stages. Things were made alot more difficult for Jonathan and Martin with torrential rain falling Saturday night leaving the stages flooded in places and coupled with the fact a couple of farmers had drawn silage the day before left running water and mud on the stages. The boys set off with their intentions clear by setting a top 20 time on the first stage whilst taking no risks. From there on in they turned up the pace through out the day climbing back up to 2nd in class whilst having a tit for tat battle with Liam Howlett never being separated by more than 15 seconds all day. The battle was decided in Pringles favour when Howlett succumbed to the pressure and put his car off the road on the final stage handing a deserving class win to Pringle and Byrne. Coupled with this finishing 12th overall they were the top national registered two wheel drive crew and gained valuable points in the hunt for the title. With Frank Kelly not finishing this leaves Pringle with a 7 point lead with two rounds to go. Of course this also means that they have wrapped up the class 13 title for this year being uncatchable on points.
Jonathan would like to say a big thanks to his sponsors this year who have supported him and Martin on a long campaign this year. Kelly Bros. Road lines Virginia, Impact Conveyor Parts Ltd., GO service station Bailieborough also a big thanks to their service crew this year.
(All photos by John Kilbride)
Sunday the 15th of July brought a more seasonal day for the crews competing in the ALMC rally compared with Sligo the previous week, And with the rally being a round of the REIS British Tarmac Championship it was ample invitation for the Cavan Motorclub members to go and test their skills against some of the best crews from the other side of the Irish sea.
The sensation of the rally was Chris Armstrong driving his Mark 2 Escort. Having only competed on a couple of rallies before hand in this new car he marked his intentions from the word go setting a furious pace. From the first stage onwards he was 8th fastest overall and one of the leading two wheel drives before taking over the lead and holding it until the end to finish 1st two wheel drive and 5th overall.
Also in Class 13 was Martin Byrne Navigating for Jack Maguire who was bedding himself back in after a lay off in his Vauxhall engined Escort. Even though it was a learning day the pair didn’t hold back on the pace. Running in the top 3 in class all day whilst overcoming a couple of overshoots they would eventually come home 3rd in class and 12th overall.
Class 14 saw Canningstown native Raymond Drury and Pauric Sheridan up hold Cavan honours by running in the top 3 of their class and inside the top 30 up until the second last stage when a mechanical failure on the car put them out prematurely from a great class battle.
Another weekend and another rally for Bailieborough’s Paul Clarke and Gary Copperwaithe and once again the Lappin’s Garage sponsored escort wasn’t spared as the crew put in another raft of impressive times during the day. With all the technical problems of the new cars sorted it was left to Paul to show what he was capable of by bringing the car home first in class and in the top 10.
The 1600 men were out in force for the event with mixed fortunes across the board. Quarry front runner Chris Snow and Sean Brunton were out chasing top 10 honours in their Honda Civic running 1st in calss and achieving their goal of 9th overall until a drive broke on the 7th stage leaving the crew stranded and out of the rally.
Fairing out better was John Mc Cabe and Declan Smith running in the rear wheel drive 1600 class they had a good run all day starting off 2nd in class after the first stage and from there on to the end they led the class. Running inside the top 20 overall for most of the day they finished just outside at a very credible 22nd overall.
Taking an impressive 3rd in class at the finish was Tommy Rogers with Stephen Cooke sitting in for a quick spin round the Co. Louth countryside for the day consistently climbing the overall positions all day they finished an impressive 3rd in class and 30th overall. Really getting to grips with the new car over the last couple of events he will be a force to be reckoned with in next years border championship.
Not so fortunate were Cootehill father and son pairing of Gerry and Aaron Mc Intyre in their class 11 Starlet. The pair were in a close battle for 3rdin class when a technical problem developed on the car on stage 6 it made it impossible for the crew to continue and had to retire from the event. Another crew to bow out early were Gary Mc Cabe and Daire Maguire with the car crying enough on the first stage on the event, A disappointing end to the day for the class 10 crew. Another first stage retirement was the junior crew of Kevin Cole and Killian Reilly in their Toyota engine escort with the clutch letting go just after half way into the first stage forcing an instant retirement.
In class 2 Baillieborough crew Stephen Kellett and Russell Waller put in a solid performance in their civic steadily climbing the overall classification all day. Barring a quick visit to a garden on the final stage the crew reported no real problems to come home 3rd in class and 39thoverall for the hard working Club members.
Class 9 saw the other half of the O’Reilly motorsport dynasty Brendan try to take honours in class 9 against very stiff opposition. With Keith Mc Cannon calling the notes the crew had a good run to 2nd in class and 35th overall finishing ahead of some more powerful machinery.
All in all it was a generally good day for Club Members with plenty of crystal making its way home from the event. A big thanks to all Cavan Motor Club members who turned out to marshal and help out on the event.
Saturday July the 7th saw the fourth round of the Sligo Pallets Border Rally Championship, And with the going as close as ever for the overall title it saw a good entry from the Cavan Motor Club members.
Class 13 crew Jonathan Pringle and Martin Byrne started at number 5 as the top class 13 crew looking to gain maximum points to help their championship. With a competitive class 13 entry it would be no walk in the park for the crew who started well completing the first stage 3rdfastest and top 2 wheel drive car. A position they would hold until stage 4 when they were caught out on a slippery piece of road and slid off into a ditch, normally wouldn’t be a problem but with no spectators for miles the crew were stuck and retirement followed.
Class 10 saw Paddy Kiernan and Darren O’Brien resume their battle with Monaghan’s Micheal Carbin in what has been a closely fought class struggle. Paddy and Darren started the weekend seeded at a competitive 24 on the road. Things were looking up when the Bailieborough crew passed a stranded Carbin on the first stage but a lapse in concentration on a slippery approach to a deceptive right hander saw them spin off into a field and get entangled in the fence, with the wire rapped around the wheel they lost over two minutes trying to free the car. With the car out they then noticed a lot of damage had been sustained to the back of the car and it was not handling the way it should have. Limping through the following 2 stages they made it back to the safety of service to repair the damage and found they were last in class and 90th overall. Paddy and Darren then began a fight back to climb back up to finish 2nd in the class and 30th overall along with winning the drive of the day for setting the fastest class 10 time on stage 5.
At 38 saw Tommy Rogers and Phillip Mc Entee take on the very competitive class 11 entry in their 1600 Mark 2 escort. Being only his second rally Tommy set out to be clean and tidy over the stages and went on to hold 3rd in class amongst some very distinguished competition and eventually finish a credible 23rd overall, a very successful run.
Late entry were the class 12 pair of Paul Clarke and Gary Copperwaithe in their newly acquired pinto engine mark 2 escort. Their entry could have spelled trouble for front running border championship crew of Arthur and Mac Kierans as they could potentially steal some points off them if they finished in front at the end of the day. With a good start the pair found themselves lying 3rd in class and 21st overall and trading times with the top 2, They started to move up the overall leader board to 14th overall and had their sights set firmly on taking the class win when a technical failure in the car left them stranded on stage 6, a disappointing end to what was shaping up to be a great battle.
In class 9 Justin Smyth and Gregory Mc Quillan went into the rally to change a run of bad luck on previous rounds and try and take home maximum points. Also sitting with local man Colin Currid was Adrian Foley.
From the word go Justin meant business and started to set sensational top 20 times and would go on to keep himself in the top 20 all day and to dominate the class, Such was his pace he was beating a lot of 4 wheel drive and 2 litre opposition all day, a tall order in a 1400 escort. This run really put to bed the problems of the previous rounds.
Adrian Foley had a good event too navigating for Colin Currid in his nova lying 3rd in the class all day they gradually got quicker as the day went on climbing up from 42nd overall to 24th again setting times in and around that off the more powerful opposition.
Cavan Motor club members at home and abroad.
The month of June took some of the Cavan Motor Club members slightly further afield with trips to Barbados Rally and the Donegal International Rally.
For Cootehill‘s Gene Mc Donald the trip to Barbados started off as a working holiday going to service for Monaghan man Raymond Conlon but when a navigator from Antrim broke his arm Gene was drafted in at last minute to compete with Joe Mc Quillan in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7.
With not much time to prepare “A bit of a recce was done” joked Gene on an event where local knowledge is key with stages being run alongside sugar cane fields, with the tar permanently melted and very bumpy it left conditions very treacherous for the crew who in fact visited one of the cane fields on the second day pushing to make back time after a petrol pipe came off in a stage losing them second in class. This coupled with having to complete two night stages using his mobile phone as a light to read his pace notes pushed the crew back to a safe third in class. Knowing their position was safe they proceeded to entertain which is the name of the game according to Gene, with stages being halted to let the local bus drive up the road and with thousands of enthusiastic locals lining the roads encouraging the crews on you couldn’t take the competition side of the rally too seriously.
Photo Lindsay Farmer
With a budget of 1000 euro to travel, stay and socialise it makes it a viable trip for any rally fan. And with Conlon finishing the rally 4th in class hampered by a slipping clutch on the first day it was smiles all round from local crews.
In the style of a WRC team member Gene flew home to grab a few hours sleep before travelling to Letterkenny to service for another Cootehill crew, Damien O’Reilly and Damien Mc Cabe were competing in their first Donegal International Rally in their Ford Escort MK2.
O’ Reilly saying that the idea came about when the pair were spectators at the 2011 event and decided they would “be looking out the windscreen” for the 2012 event, With the team and budget gathered they set about preparing for the event which in itself was fraught with 4th Gear giving up on the car during a test on Monday, With the car to be presented for technical scrutiny on Thursday afternoon the box was sent to MS Motorsport for a rebuild.
With all in place and all safety and technical elements checked the crew rolled across the start ramp in Letterkenny on Friday Morning running as number 98 and with Reilly having not competed since last October the first loop of stages were all about the crew getting back up to speed for the long weekend ahead. It didn’t take long to shake off the rust as the boys were lying 2nd in class by 15 seconds by Friday evening, with two runs around the Buncranna Town stage they finished what was a tough opening day but with the knowledge the real stages were yet to come “We enjoyed the Buncranna stage but we were really looking forward to the classic stages.”
Saturday and dawn broke to reveal a wet blustery and generally horrid day the decision was taken to try out some new wet weather tyres for the first loop and see how they progressed from there, Also the social side of the rally reared its head with Damien Mc Cabe saying “having lost most of the service crew to Mike Denver the previous night it was a quiet service Saturday morning.”
With the new tyres the boys went to work cutting the class lead down to 3 seconds by the midday service halt they had a real shot of winning the class but it all came
undone on the famous Fanad head stage where a wrong tyre choice coupled with a wire breaking off the alternator causing the car to run the battery flat caused the crew to lose 12 minutes in total and drop them back to 4th in class a minute behind 3rd. Knowing 3rd was on the cards Damien drove hard and by that evening had pulled back infront.
Photo Declan Boyle
Knowing they were too far behind 2nd the boys went out to have fun on the Sunday as they always do and with the pressure off they spent the day testing out suspension settings on the car over some of the classic stages of Irish rallying.
With the car polished they rolled across the finish ramp to claim a rewarding yet frustrating 3rd in class 9 and 44th overall in the national section of the rally.
Unfortunately for other Cavan Motor Club members they did not see the finish With Russell Woods initially showing great pace running at the front of class 13 and in the top 10 of the national before encountering problems that dropped him back and ultimately causing his retirement on Saturday evening, Also coming to an unfortunate end was Wesley Patterson who was also running high up in class 14 and in the top 10 of the national before crashing out on the first stage of Saturday morning.
Finally Damien and Damien would like to thank everyone who helped out including the sponsors Stephen Rice, Rock view Auto Repairs, Gene Auto Services, Mc Duff, Mervyn Wedlock, Martin Nicholl, Adam Kinkade and Lawrence Sherry,
And a big thanks to the service crew Brendan, Aaron, Glenn, ThomasGene and Paul for the tea and sandwiches!!
Motorsport News by Gerry Buckley
Local Competitors Make Long Haul To Killarney Worthwhile.
Photo Joe Lane.
Patrick Kiernan and Darren O’Brien had a successful visit to the kingdom of Kerry at on Saturday; the now traditional long trek to Killarney on the first weekend in December for the Killarney Historic Stages Rally draws competitors from all over the country to some of Ireland’s classic stages. The young crew making their first visit to Killarney overcame an engine oil leak on their Mk2 Escort to win Class 14 and finish 9th modified car in the event.
Saturday’s result brought Patrick and Darren’s 4th class win in as many events in what has been a dream start to their partnership, with class wins by substantial margins at the Clare Stages rally, GSMC Stages in Baltinglass and the Fastnet Rally in Skibbereen.
While Darren directs Patrick around the stages in the escort he is certainly no slouch behind the wheel himself, taking his Honda Civic to victory in Cavan Motor Club’s Hut Cross Autocross Circuit in the last round of the Wedlock Plant Hire Autocross Championship in November. He is also is the Class 3 leader in the Championship.
Photo Joe Lane.
Brendan McAree brought his pristine Porsche 911 home 3rd in Class 11 in the Historic section of the Killarney event. The popular Monaghan businessman and former long time patron of Cavan Motor Club’s Autocross series acquired the purpose built ex-Francis Tuthill machine earlier this year but had a troubled run in the first few events in what is believed by many to be the quintessential historic rally car.
The Killarney Historic Rally customarily brings the competitive year to a close for the Irish Motorsport calendar, but this year the event is actually the opening round of the 2012 Historic Tarmac Championship.