Patterson Just Pipped on Cookstown Targa Rally.
Eric Patterson fought a day-long battle with Dublin’s Christopher Evans at Cookstown Motor Club’s Shepherd’s Rest Targa Rally. Hailstones, rain and wind, as well as bright sunshine, contrived to keep the competition close, only for Evans to snatch the win in the closing stages.
Christopher Evans, navigated by Kevin Fagan, took fastest time on Test 1 in Davagh Forest, but over his shoulder were Dungannon’s Eric Patterson, partnered as usual by Raymond Donaldson, and Stewartstown’s Trevor Ferguson, with David McElroy in the co-driver seat. Also close behind were David Crothers and Barbara Kane, and young Matthew Mason and Peter Scott in their Nissan Micra.
Five tests were inside the Davagh Forest complex and then a run out to a concrete lane test near Lough Fea. Having started at the Shepherd’s Rest Restaurant at 10am in the morning, crews would return there after each of the three loops of tests, and on the first return, Eric Patterson’s Mazda MX5 was holding a slender lead of just 2 seconds over Chris Evans’ similar car. In third position was Allan Harryman and Suz Graham in their new Toyota MR2, looking resplendent in it’s yellow and black “wasp” colour scheme.
During this first loop of six tests, it was ominous that Eric and Christopher had beaten or equalled the target time on two of them, so the competition might actually be determined over a much smaller number of tests than the eighteen planned.
By the end of the second loop, Eric Patterson still held on to his lead, but it was now down to just one second. On this loop, both Evans and Patterson had beaten the target time on four of the six tests, so progress against Eric’s lead was slow. Matthew Mason had moved into third place overall, with Harryman showing the competitiveness of his new car by holding a steady fourth.
Loop three would be the decider and Evans, despite beating the target again on four of the tests, took enough time on the other two to pip Patterson by just three seconds. Matthew Mason was third, and a very happy Allan Harryman brought the new car home in fourth on it’s first outing.
By virtue of his fine run, Matthew Mason and Peter Scott would be winners of Class 1 for Experts in Front Wheel Drive cars. Stewartstown’s Stephen Ferguson with Milton McWilliams as navigator would be second in their Peugeot 106 GTi, and Coagh Driver Damien Mooney in third with Conor Nevin in his Citroen Saxo.
Christopher Evans and Kevin Fagan would be winners of Class 2 for Experts in Rear Wheel Drive cars, just three seconds clear of Eric Patterson and Raymond Donaldson, both crews in Mazda MX5s, and in third place Allan Harryman and Suz Graham in the Toyota MR2.
Class 3, for Semi-Experts in front wheel drive, was looking like a lonely affair for Davy Young and Richard Nelson in their Mini Cooper, as they were the only crew entered in this class. However, Darwyn Young and Stephen Griffiths would be promoted from Novices into Semi-Experts in their Ford Puma, and as a result ran out winners of this class as well.
The Semi-Experts rear wheel drive was won by Trevor Ferguson and David McElroy in a Mazda MX5, but only after resolving a tie with Darren Fleck and Gary Wilson in their BMW 318i. Finishing on identical penalties, Trevor was declared winner by virtue of having the faster time on Test 1. Just 5 seconds behind this pair was Stuart Annesley and Stephen Jess (MX5), and a great result for Mark and Ivan McKeown from Parkanaur saw them take fifth place in the class. This was their first outing in the Semi-Experts category having been promoted from Novices after their class win in Dungannon.
The Novice Classes are always hotly contested, and on this occasion, in the Front wheel drive class, Andrew Harkness and Rodney Gourley took their Citroen Saxo to a first win. Behind was the Renault Clio of Kenny Anderson and Peter Anderson, and just twelve seconds behind them were Dungannon Brothers Dougie and Glenn Millar in their usual Volkswagen Golf GTi.
In the rear wheel drive class for Novices, Scott McBurney and Philip McIlvena pipped Liam Shaw and “JB” Shaw by just one second, and Philip McCrea and Mark Stewart by three, all of them driving Mazda MX5s.
Competitors really enjoyed the fast flowing tests, but with the front runners beating the bogey on ten of the eighteen tests, it makes for a frustrating time for the competition to make up time and have a chance of victory. All but five of the seventy crews made it to the finish, demonstrating yet again that this most popular form of Club Motorsport around today is alive and well, and enjoyed by Club level competitors every time they compete.
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