Normal Woodside Service Resumed at Loughgall Targa.
Robert Woodside Jr and Bruce Drummond arrived back on the Targa Rally scene at Loughgall and stamped their authority on the event. Mark Faulkner and Aly Coyle might have been fastest on the first test, but once he got into his stride on Test 2, Woodside was never threatened and ended up with a 33 second lead at the finish. Faulkner’s engine would expire after Test 7 bring his day to a premature close.
North Armagh Motor Club had laid on an impressive 28 tests, all run within the grounds of Loughgall Country Park. Organised into three loops, the tests were popular with competitors being more like rally stages than autotests. All being run on dry tarmac and concrete, the Mazda MX5s were able to get their power down and took the three top places overall.
Behind Woodside, Wicklow driver Chris Evans and Kevin Fagan were holding their pursuers at bay. Allan Harryman and Suz Graham (Toyota MR2), Eric Patterson and Raymond Donaldson (MX5), Eamonn Byrne and Joanna Lenehan (Toyota Starlet) all contested the last podium place as the day progressed. Harryman’s challenge evaporated on the last three tests with a line penalty and a pylon fault dropping him to 6th.
Patterson would end up equal on time with Byrne at the end of the 28th test, and would win the tie by being one second faster on the first test. Making steady progress all day were popular pairing David Crothers and Barbara Kane in their MX5, and they would end up just 6 seconds behind Byrne and Patterson.
Eamonn Byrne and Joanna Lenehan continue to set the Front-Wheel-Drive standard with another faultless performance and took the Class by 19 seconds. In fact Class 1 would be a real family affair. In second place were Cousins Daniel Byrne and Jonathan Bradshaw in a Peugeot 106, and both of them nephews of Eamonn Byrne. In third place were Frank Lenehan and Tim Faulkner in a Toyota Starlet, and as it happens, Frank is Joanna Lenehan’s Father. Targa rallies bring the whole family out!
In Class 4 for Semi-Expert Rear-Wheel-Drive, Dungannon’s Mark Stewart and Chris Hobson fought off an early challenge by Darren Fleck and Gary Wilson’s BMW to win the class by 19 seconds. This earns them promotion to the Experts Class in future and well deserved it is.
They were matching Eric Patterson’s times during the day, and took four fastest times along the way. A scare towards the finish threatened their performance when a fracture developed in the radiator, but copious amounts of bottled water donated by surrounding competitors enabled them to finish ninth overall.
In the Front-Wheel-Drive class for Semi-Experts, Karl O’Donoghue and legend Ian McCulloch were tops by almost a minute from Davy Young and Richard Nelson in their Mini Cooper.
Loughgall residents John and Jonathan Henderson had the misfortune to clip a stone and bend the front suspension, but were lucky enough to be close to home and were able to nip off route and repair it. Fourth in class would be their reward.
In the Novice classes, David Burns and Conor Murphy would win the Front-Wheel-Drive section in their Ford Fiesta, with Dungannon crew Kenny and Peter Anderson (Clio) finishing 4th, just 2 seconds ahead of Jordan and Norman Burns (Fiesta). The Bush Team of Trevor Falloon and Trevor Haydock would finish ninth in their Proton WRC.
In the Rear-Wheel-Drive Novice Class, John and Sam Adams would steer their beautiful Mk2 Escort to a narrow win ahead of eleven Mazda MX5s and one Toyota Corolla.
Dungannon’s Eric McIvor navigated by Daughter Suzanne, would take 6th place in this class, just ahead of Leslie and Gareth Hawe, and both MX5 teams making it into the top 40.
Unlucky on the day was Dungannon driver Alan Jardine partnered by Ballygawley’s Raymond Knox. In contention in the Novice Class 6 in their immaculate Mk2 Escort for the first ten tests, the clutch cable gave way as they started Test 11 and that was the end of their day.
Full results can be found here: Results