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Patterson Keeps D.M.C. to the Fore on UAC Retro.
In years past, the Ulster Automobile Club ran the 3-day Classic Circuit of Ireland Retro Rally, and enjoyed entries of over 100 crews. Interest in this type of endurance event dropped off in recent years, and competitors have switched their attention to the one-day events knowns as Targa Rallies. A number of competitors do use their Classic cars on these events, but the ruggedness of the Mazda MX5 has been irresistible to many and thus tend to make up the largest manufacturer group on Targa Rally entry lists.
As if “going-with-the-flow”, for 2015 the UAC ran a Targa Rally instead of “The Retro”, but retained the “Retro” name as a tribute to the once-great endurance event. Thirty one cars assembled at the fabulous Harrison’s Farm Shop at Greyabbey, Co. Down, and of these only 12 were of the Mazda variety. A great mix of sports and saloon cars joined the Mazdas, with (amongst others) Minis, MG Midgets, Nissan Micras and even a Ford Anglia all lining up for a great day’s Targa Rallying.
A total of 19 tests were laid on, and competitors were universally complimentary about the event. Right from the word “GO”, Will Corry and Richard Earney showed that they meant business in their MG Midget. They set fastest time on the first three tests, and never looked back all day. A start-to-finish lead saw them winners by 12 seconds, just ahead of Mark Faulkner and Gillian Haydon in the first of the MX5s. Dubliner Christopher Evans, who normally drives an immaculate Mk1 Ford Escort, defected to Mazda for this event and took a steady third place overall.
Dungannon’s Eric Patterson was still suffering a bit from Jet-Lag after a long flight home from New Zealand, but still managed to take fourth place overall with Raymond Donaldson in the navigator’s seat. Rounding out the top 5 were Frank Lenehan and Olwen Blair in Frank’s usual Toyota Starlet, and the only front-wheel-drive car in the top 10. Another Escort to MX5 “switcher” was Belfast’s Drew Wiley, and with Tyrone’s Malcolm McQueen alongside, just missed out on a top 10 finish at 11th Overall. Loughgall men Jonathan and John Henderson had a top 20 finish in their Nissan Micra.
The U.A.C. can be justifiably pleased with their “Retro” Targa Rally. The terrific venue for the start, lunch-stop and Finish, the fantastic tests, and simple format, made it a most enjoyable day out in cars. There are three more of these events coming up in the next weeks, with Magherafelt, Ballynahinch, and Omagh Motor Clubs all lining up to hold events before the end of the year.
1. W Corry / R Earney (Midget) 1015 marks
2. M Faulkner / G Haydon (MX5) 1027 marks
3. C Evans / K Fagan (MX5) 1029 marks
4. E Patterson / R Donaldson (MX5) 1043 marks
5. F Lenehan / O Blair (Starlet) 1049 marks
Some pictures from the event: