Dubliner Christopher Evans, navigated by Kevin Fagan, took his Mazda MX5 to a narrow victory over Robert Woodside Jr and Bruce Drummond at the North Ulster Car Club’s first Targa Rally on 9th July 2016.
The event was based in Garvagh, and for a first-time event for the Club, everything worked out great despite the wet start to the day. Five tests were set out to be performed three times, and a compact route meant the action came thick and fast. The inclusion of two tests in the forest near Ringsend added a touch of variety, and being more like special stages, were much enjoyed by everybody.
All but three of the sixty cars finished the event, and right from the outset, Christopher Evans showed his intent and he led the event from Start to Finish. He and his main rival Robert Woodside Jr set identical times on the first three tests to share the lead at that point, but he went on to set fastest time on seven of the fifteen tests, and finished just eight seconds ahead of Robert.
Eamon Byrne and Joanna Lenehan tied their Toyota Starlet with David Crothers and Barbara Kane’s MX5 for third place overall, and the award went to Eamon since he was one second faster than David on the first test.
Behind David came Stewartstown’s Trevor Ferguson, navigated by David McElroy, while two places behind that in seventh overall was brother Norman Ferguson in his Peugeot 106 GTi.
Top place in the semi-experts rear wheel drive class was Mark Stewart and Chris Hobson, also in an MX5, but he had to fight hard for it after collecting a pylon fault on the very first test. This dropped him to 46th place, but at the end of the first loop was up to 13th. Another penalty on test 8 saw him back to 15th at the end of the second loop. He just couldn’t keep away from the pylons, and although he collected a third one on the very last test, he still finished inside the top ten at ninth overall.
Semi-experts front wheel drive class saw another Dungannon pair bring home trophies. Dougie and Glenn Millar in their Volkswagen Golf GTi had a great drive to second in class. They had done quite a bit of work to the car since it’s last outing, and after a short spell of settling in, they ran more or less trouble free all day. Only a pylon fault on test 10 stood in the way of a clean sheet, and they ended up just six seconds behind Mark Gillis and Rodney Gourley in their Ford Puma.
Not so lucky in this class were Kenny Anderson and Peter Anderson. Their little Renault Clio was setting great test times to be third in class at the end of the first loop, but a couple of minor excursions into the hedges, and eventually an electric problem, forced them to retire after test eight.
Also missing from the top places on the day was Dungannon driver Eric Patterson. After three tests he was sitting comfortable in third place overall, but then a handbrake caliper failed on the rear axle. The problem with the brakes would get worse later with damage to a brake pipe. An unscheduled visit to a local garage saw a temporary repair made, but so much time was lost that the hope of a win was gone. It was still a great result to finish just inside the top 20. Full results here ==> RESULTS