Cookstown Targa Rally

Eric Patterson splashes his way to victory.

Patterson Snatches Last-Gasp Victory on Wet Cookstown Targa Rally.

Cookstown Motor Club ran their Braeside Targa Rally on Saturday 2nd May, and had lined up eighteen tests to challenge 51 competitors in and around Davagh Forest.  The weather was not co-operative and heavy rain made it more difficult than normal for both competitors and organisers alike.  Top seeds, Robert Woodside and Bruce Drummond led the field away form the Braeside Bar and Restaurant at Orritor in their Mazda MX5 followed by Allan Harryman and Suz Graham in a similar car.  Eventual winner, Eric Patterson, partnered by Malcolm McQueen, rolled off the ramp at No 4 in yet another MX5.

The first test was at Glasgow’s yard, and right away it was to become apparent that the organisers were somewhat unlucky with the setting of target times.  Twenty one cars beat the target and were credited with the same time.  Test 2 was to be cancelled and so it was Test 3 before a leader could be identified.  Robert Woodside and Bruce Drummond set a time 4 seconds quicker than Eric Patterson, Norman Ferguson and David Crothers.  On Test 4, it was another Woodside, this time Mark, who, along with Mark Faulkner in yet another MX5 took quickest time.  Unfortunately, on Test 5 there were 12 cars to beat the target time.

Great result for Hayes Robinson in his Ford Puma.
Great result for Hayes Robinson in his Ford Puma.

Test 6 would see a fantastic performance by Hayes Robinson and Keith Hall in their Ford Puma who took fastest time from the hard chasing group of Woodsides and Eric Patterson.  Hayes is a Novice Class Driver, and graduate from the Dungannon Motor Club Rally School, and looking set to move quickly up the Classes with performances like this.  After this first loop of tests, Robert Woodside was in the lead from Mark Woodside, with David Crothers third and Eric Patterson in fourth.

The second loop of tests again saw 41 crews beat the target on Glasgow’s Yard, and 27 beat the target on Test 11.  This reduced the opportunity for drivers to catch up on the leaders and at the end of the loop, Robert Woodside still held the lead.  Eric Patterson had now moving up to second place with a gap of 15 seconds, and 11 seconds clear of Allan Harryman.  Robert Woodside’s Father, also Robert Woodside, was in fourth place in his Mk 2 Escort, just 2 seconds behind Harryman.

On the third loop, the leading crews beat the target on 4 of the 6 tests, and Robert Woodside looked to be cruising to victory with his 15 second cushion increasing to 19 seconds.  Rallying can be an unpredictable sport however, and one slip in concentration can spoil a great performance.  On the final test of the event, despite the fact that the top crews were beating the target, Robert Woodside judged his braking to the finish line incorrectly and slipped over the line to incur a line fault.  The resulting 30 second penalty eliminated his lead and let Eric Patterson slip through to take the win.

Mark Stewart kicks up the water at Davagh.
Mark Stewart kicks up the water at Davagh.

In the various classes, Dungannon drivers put in some impressive performances.  Hayes Robinson went on to win his Novice class, and came 12th place overall.  A terrific performance, and a delight to see a “non-MX5” driven with such precision.  Having already been moved up a class into the Semi-Experts, Mark Stewart and Allen Miller took an impressive 3rd place in class against the more experienced crews, and was 13th overall.

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