Hawes are NI Champions but Night Navigation Rallies are in Crisis.
The 2015 Northern Ireland Navigation Rally Champions are Cousins Leslie and Gareth Hawe from Ballygawley. Little did they know that after winning the first three rounds of the 2015 series, there would only be one more round in the championship to count, the Dungannon Motor Club’s Moonraker Rally. Perhaps the cancellation of the Omagh Motor Club event prior to the Summer break was an omen, because after the successful Moonraker Rally in Dungannon, Newry Motor Club, followed by North Armagh, followed by the U.A.C. all cancelled events like dominoes.
The writing was on the wall for the Hawes based on their domination of the early events, and it would have taken a massive disaster of some kind for them not to be crowned 2015 Champions. Ciaran Carey and Wife Rachel were runners up in the series, while Paul Forsythe and Brian Hanna came out winners of the Semi-Experts category. In the Novices, James Woods and John Boyle took the trophy this year.
The irony of the situation is that there were 23 Beginner navigators scoring points in the Beginners category for the year, yet some clubs received less than 10 entries for their rally, and hence the cancellations. Enniskillen Husband and Wife team of Brian and Aideen McGirr were winners of the Beginner Class Challenge Trophy, narrowly beating Dungannon’s Derek and Anne Smyth by just two points. Hayes Robinson and Keith Hall were a creditable 4th despite competing on only two of the events.
Clearly, Motor Clubs are finding it hard to justify the huge effort required to run a Championship Navigation Rally when they can’t be sure enough competitors will show up to make it worthwhile. A sad state of affairs considering that this form of sport was once the essential training ground for the Co-Drivers of the future.
On a more exciting note, Ardboe driver Paul Mooney took his newly-built Nova engined Mini to Tullamore for the latest round of the Hewison Autotest Championship, and came away with a win. First time out in the new car and an overall win sends a shock wave through the Autotest World.
Meanwhile, in County Antrim, Donaghmore’s Adrian Heatherington and Moy’s Frank Kelly took the top two places in Class 14 on the Glens Forestry Rally at the weekend. They were the highest placed Ford Escorts in the field of 46 cars competing over the unsurfaced tracks in Springwell and Cam Forests. Both drivers set top 10 times during the day, mixing it with ex-WRC cars, with Adrian finishing a fine 8th place overall, and Frank at 10th, navigated on the day by his Daughter Lauren.