Erne Safari Kicks Off 2016 Navigation Season.
After the disappointment of the cancellation of the Tour of the Mournes Rally earlier in the year, it was a delight to see 16 crews cross the start line at Irvinestown for the Enniskillen Motor Club Erne Safari Rally. Aimed directly at beginners, there was to be no Experts class, and the majority of the competitors were either Novices or Beginners.
There were just two crews in the Semi-Experts class, and confusingly, both drivers were called John Henderson. At number one was Loughgall Father and Son, John and Jonathan Henderson in their Nissan Micra, and at number two, the Belfast crew of John Henderson and Clifford Auld. These two crews would receive the most difficult of the route instructions, and these would take their toll on the time penalties during the evening.
Surprise entrants in the Novice Class were the experienced Ciaran Carey and James Woods, while right behind were relative newcomers Malcolm McQueen and Grace Campbell in an MX5, and last years Beginners Champions Aideen and Brian McGirr in their Toyota Avensis. William Strain and Robert Hall completed the Novice crews in their Subaru Impreza.
Ten crews fell into the Beginner criteria and they would be provided with a marked up map of the route to make life a little bit easier for these inexperienced teams.
Three sections started the event off before a short break and already the difficult instructions had the Semi-Expert crews in difficulty. In the Novices and beginners, it was earliness penalties rather than lateness that was the problem, but later in the event the tricky roads came in to play and most crews started attracting lateness penalties.
At the finish of the event, overall winners were the Fermanagh Father and Son Team of Gareth and Raymond Deazley with just two marks lost, and that one early penalty spoiling an otherwise perfect run. In second place overall, and winner of the Novice Class, were Ciaran Carey and James Woods with a penalty total of 6 marks. In the Semi-Experts, the winners would be the Loughgall Hendersons with a total of 65 marks reflecting the tougher type of navigation instructions issued to this class.
Top Dungannon Motor Club Crew were the Novices Malcolm McQueen and Grace Campbell, taking second place in that class, and placed 8th Overall.
Full results can be found at http://www.rallyscore.net/336/Erne-Safari-Navigation-Rally