Around A Pound Rathfriland Targa Rally
Over a dozen Dungannon Motor Club members made the trip to Newry for the 2015 Around-a-Pound Targa Rally organized by Rathfriland Motor Club. Last year’s winners, Frank Lenehan and Olwen Blair, led the 50 competitors ways from the start in their Toyota Starlet, and they almost pulled off a second consecutive win. They would finish just 6 seconds behind young Matthew Mason and Peter Scott in their Nissan Micra, and just ahead of Dungannon star Eric Patterson, navigated on this occasion by Trevor Haydock.
Mason’s event got off to a mixed start with his time on the first test initially looking like the fastest of the day, only to discover he had clipped a pylon and thus received the 10 seconds penalty that goes with this misdemeanor. Worse was in store for pre-event favourite Christopher Evans. He, along with twelve other competitors would perform the test incorrectly, and receive a punishing penalty equivalent to almost 50 seconds. Among the other teams to fail this first test were Norman Ferguson and Brendan Mooney, and last minute driver/navigator switching Harry Barr and Malcolm McQueen. Malcolm was to drive on the rally, but sold his car in the week leading up to the event, so navigator Harry stepped in with his MX5 and Harry and Malcolm switched seats.
The event was composed of five tests to be performed three times, and then at the very end, the first test repeated to make sixteen tests in all. Three of the tests were autotest-style in farm yards, and the other two were unsurfaced farm lanes. The weather was dry and sunny for most of the day so the timekeepers had to deal with thick dust kicked up by the cars as the performed the tests.
After the first loop of five tests, Frank Lenehan and Olwen Blair were in the lead thanks to fastest time on four of the tests, six seconds ahead of Tim and Paul Woodside in their Mazda MX5. Matthew Mason was recovering from his first test error and was just 9 seconds off the lead. David Crothers and Barbara Kane were going well with two joint fastest times, and top Dungannon crew were Eric Patterson and Trevor Haydock in 6th place. Also showing a good turn of speed were Dougie Millar and brother Glenn in their VW Golf, holding 16th place, and really enjoying the tests. Mark Stewart and Allen Millar were inside the top 20 at 19th in their MX5.
The second loop would see Tim Woodside fail that dreaded first test and drop down the order, promoting Matthew Mason to second overall, but still 7 seconds behind the experienced Frank Lenehan. David Crothers took two more fastes times to stay third and Eric Patterson was now 4th, but Dougie and Glenn Millar were retired after an engine mounting failed on their VW. Attempts to make a temporary repair were unsuccessful and their day was over. Christopher Evans was another driver making up time after his first-test fail, and with two fastest times was now in 7th.
The final loop would see Christopher Evans make a real charge with thee fastest times, while Matthew Mason would set two to hold on to his lead. Frank Lenehan succumbed to a pylon penalty on that first test again, and this let Matthew through into the lead. Another fastest time for David Crothers would secure 4th place overall, just 3 seconds behind Eric Patterson in third.
A good days rallying in the Rathfriland area, and great performances by Tyrone crews with Eric Patterson in third place overall, and top 20 positions for Norman Ferguson (17th), Mark Stewart (14th) and Gilmore Magee (13th). It was first time out for Sean McElhennon and Jason Fullen, and they are sure to become regular competitors on this type of event.