Vanilla Black Ballynahinch Targa Rally
The weather forecast didn’t deter an amazing seventy seven crews from showing up at the Temple Golf Club for one of the last Targa Rallies of the year. The threatened rain did come, and was instrumental in having two tests cancelled in the course of the day leaving just 12 to count, only two of which were more than one hundred seconds long. Vanilla Black Catering were the event sponsors, and “Vanilla Black” clouds shadowed the event all day.
Tyrone crews Damien Mooney and Fergus Quinn in their Citroen Saxo, and Eric Patterson and Raymond Donaldson in their MX5 would uphold the County Tyrone honours with respective 5th and 8th places overall, but on this occasion weren’t quite able to challenge eventual winners Robert Woodside and Bruce Drummond for the lead.
On the opening couple of tests, it looked like Woodside was going to have at least a three way battle on his hands. Eamonn Byrne and Joanna Lenehan matched Robert’s times, and Christopher Evans (now MX5 shod) and Matthew Mason (Micra) snapping at his heels just one second adrift.
Test 3 was a quarry test, and here the event would take a turn for the worse for many of the front runners. Both Dermot Carnegie (Escort) and Eamonn Byrne (Starlet) would miss a cone in this test and incur a “Fail”, thereby receiving a penalty which equated to about seventy seconds when compared with the fastest on the test. A total of eighteen crews made this error, including other top runners Allan Harryman, David Crothers and Drew Wiley.
Undeterred, Eamonn Byrne would set fastest times on five of the remaining tests, including the second run through the quarry where the error was made the first time. In the end Eamonn would finish sixty two seconds behind the winner, making that seventy seconds penalty look very severe.
At the front of the event, Christopher Evans was keeping Robert Woodside under pressure. After four tests he was one second ahead of Woodside, but after six tests, Woodside was in front by nine thanks to Evans having hit a pylon on test 5. Evans would be back to just two seconds behind after ten tests, and at the finish, just one second. The closest possible margin on this type of event.
Young Matthew Mason, navigated by Peter Scott, was third in his Nissan Micra, and switching from rear wheel drive MX5 to front wheel drive Toyota Starlet obviously didn’t phase Simon Woodside as he came a fine fourth overall, and on the same penalty points as Mason. Damien Mooney and Fergus Quinn were next up in fifth place, having had a nice clean run in their Citroen Saxo, and setting two fastest test times during the day. Another Woodside, this time Mark, partnered by Andy Blair were sixth, while Eric Patterson and Raymond Donaldson came in eighth, both crews in Mazda MX5s.
Thanks to Leslie McMullan for the pictures.
- R. Woodside/B. Drummond (Mazda) 767
- C. Evans/K. Fagan (Mazda) 768
- M. Mason/P. Scott (Micra) 778
- S. Woodside/ S. Dowds (Starlet) 778
- D. Mooney/ F. Quinn (Saxo) 784
- M. Woodside/ A. Blair (Mazda) 796
- M. Henderson/ J. Henderson (Starlet) 799
- E. Patterson/ R. Donaldson (Mazda) 800
- D. Crossen/ C. McSherry (Micra) 808
- S. Cromie/ T. Stevenson (Mazda) 812