Evans Aces Donnelly Spring Fling Targa Rally.
This time last year, Christopher Evans was one of the unlucky ones on the reserve list for the Dungannon Motor Club Spring Fling Rally, but he made no mistake this year. On the 2017 Donnelly Group sponsored event he and navigator Kevin Fagan took the win by a massive 32 seconds from Eamonn Byrne / Joanna Lenehan, with Steven Cromie / Keilin Webb in third just 0.7 of a second ahead of David Crothers / Barbara Kane.
A full entry of seventy crews lined up at the Cohannon Inn to tackle three loops of tests stretching as far away as Carnteel. Cool weather with occasional showers made the days tests a bit variable in terms of grip through the concrete farmyards and gravel lanes.
The first loop of six tests was always going to be a challenge as competitors had their first look at them. Fastest out of the box was Stewartstown’s Trevor Ferguson with Autotest ace Steven in the navigator’s seat.
Stewartstown Neighbour Damien Mooney, with Tony Anderson calling the directions, was second quickest on the first test, equal with David Crothers and Barbara Kane.
His lead would be short-lived however as semi-experts Steven Cromie and Keilin Webb set a blistering time on test 2, only to have the positions reversed again on test 3. On test 4, both Eamonn Byrne (Starlet) and Christopher Evans (MX5) were getting into their stride, with both Evans and Byrne overtaking Ferguson and Cromie to take the top two spots.
Eamonn Byrne, partnered by Joanna Lenehan, would lead at the end of the first loop by 1.1 seconds from Evans and Fagan, with Steven Cromie in third. On the first test of the second loop, Evans would take the lead and from that point on the result was never in doubt. Eamonn Byrne would keep the front-wheel-drive challenge alive and hold second place to the finish.
Behind these two, third position would be contested by David Crothers (MX5) and Steven Cromie (MX5) with Cromie taking the place by less than 1 second. Damien Mooney / Tony Anderson (Saxo) and Matthew Mason / Will Corry (Micra) would battle it out for fifth place, Mooney eventually finishing with just 3.5 seconds in hand.
In the Classes, Tyrone’s Damien Mooney would be runner up in the Expert front-wheel-drive category behind Byrne. Trevor Ferguson would take third in Expert Class 2 in his MX5, while fellow Stewartstown resident David Burns would bring his Fiesta and navigator Conor Murphy into second in the semi-experts class for front-wheel-drive, albeit 47 seconds behind Robert and John Whelan. Dougie and Simon Millar would take seventh place in their VW Golf.
Semi-Expert Peter Faulkner (MX5) and Dungannon’s Anne Smyth would be fourth in their class and eighteenth overall in one of the biggest classes on the day with sixteen entrants. Winner in this Class was Steven Cromie and Keilin Webb, and their third place overall should see them progress to Experts in future events.
The Novice Classes always produce great performances as new stars begin their journey up the pecking order. In front-wheel-drive Class 5, Dungannon’s Kenny Anderson and William Neill would take the top spot in their Renault Clio, ahead of two more Dungannon based competitors, Jordan and Darrell Burns (Fiesta).
Leslie and Gareth Hawe would bring a very standard Vauxhall Astra into 5th place, demonstrating that driving skills are generally more important than fancy machinery.
In the Novice rear-wheel-drive Class 6, Fergus and Chris Mallon would be the winners in their MX5, just preventing Sean Devlin and John Nicholl getting a class win their Toyota MR2. Regular Dungannon competitors, husband and wife Rodney and Shiralee McCready, would take an excellent third in class and just outside the top 20 Overall.
Back at Dungannon Rugby Club for the finish, the results were announced quickly and awards presented to the winners. Judging by the feedback from competitors, Dungannon Motor Club have established new standards of event organization with a great format and excellent marshalling. Donnelly Group were represented by Site Director Geoffrey Lamont and he thanked all the marshals and land-owners for enabling a top Club motorsport event before presenting a great array of prizes to the winners.
You can see the full results here ==> RESULTS