Woodside Claims Another Targa Rally – McCartney Motors Laharna Rally at Larne.
Robert Woodside Junior, partnered by a very ill Bruce Drummond, showed yet again that he is the man to beat on these immensely popular Targa Rallies. Larne Motor Club had laid on a terrific set of 19 tests on private land, and along with slick organization produces a most enjoyable rally. At the end, Woodside Jr and his Mazda MX5 had a lead of 47 seconds over Eamonn Byrne and Joanne Lenehan in their Toyota Starlet.
A full entry of 60 crews (and a number of hopeful reserves) assembled at The Halfway House Hotel on the Coast Road North of Larne. Several Tyrone competitors were on the list, including Mark Stewart and Mark McKeown, Stewartstown’s Sean Devlin navigated by John Nicholl, and Gilmore Magee and Mervyn Gregg, all in Mazda MX5s. Also on the list was Dougie Millar and Brother Glenn in their VW Golf GTI, running just behind Dubliner Peter Faulkner, partnered by Dungannon’s Derek Smyth, and surprise surprise, also in an MX5.
An interesting approach to test diagrams was employed, whereby competitors were provided with Satellite view maps, and the test route marked on them. This actually gave the navigators with good eyesight a better idea what the test would be like, and better able to guide their driver round. As on the Cookstown Targa Rally, the Larne Club employed two-way radios to relay pylon penalties in real time to the test finish timekeeper, so when leaving the test, competitors knew exactly how they had performed.
For once, the winner of the event didn’t dominate every test. David Crothers, Eamonn Byrne, and Christopher Evans, all took fastest times during the day, but the consistency of Woodside Jr was what made the difference. David Crothers, partnered by Barbara Kane were actually the event leaders after the first two tests, but a slip on Test 4 cost a pylon fault. A great drive by this popular pair still captured fourth place overall and the prize for second in class.
One driver who didn’t have such a good day was Allan Harryman. His immaculately prepared Mazda suffered a damaged differential on Test 4, and that was the end of his day. In fact, Allan was one of only three teams to fail to finish this event. The tests were pretty easy on cars, with mostly smooth concrete lanes, and where the surface was loose, they didn’t cut up excessively.
As for the Tyrone crews, Peter Faulkner and Derek Smyth came out winners in Class 6, so they will move up into Class 4 in future, while Dougie Millar and Brother Glenn just missed the trophies with a fourth place in Class 5. Sean Devlin and John Nicholl were 6th in one of the bigger classes on the event, Class 6, while Gilmore Magee and Mervyn Gregg had the misfortune to Fail one test and plunged them down to 12th in that class.
Yet again, it was wide smiles at the finish of a Targa Rally. The Larne Club have some very supportive land owners, and Robert Woodside thanked them for the fantastic tests during his awards speech. A great day’s Targa Rallying, and roll on the next one.
1st R Woodside / B Drummond (1935 marks)
2nd E Byrne /J Lenehan (1982)
3rd M Woodside / A Blair (1992)
4th D Crothers / B Kane (1993)
5th D Cochrane / L Phillips (1997)
Class 1 – E Byrne / J Lenehan (Starlet)
Class 2 – R Woodside / B Drummond (MX5)
Class 3 – P O’Reilly / R Meeke (Starlet)
Class 4 – J Kelly / J Brien (Midget)
Class 5 – M O’Hara / D O’Hara (Micra)
Class 6 – P Faulkner / D Smyth (MX5)