Sponsor Trevor Falloon himself presented the trophies at the end of the Dungannon Motor Club Moonraker Rally. The buzz among competitors who had completed the event was unlike anything we have seen in a long time for a navigation Rally. While the club had arranged four reasonably challenging sections of 30 MPH regularity, they had also incorporated four “selectives”, or special tests on private land.
A good turnout of 24 crews assembled at the Dungannon Rugby Club to go through safety inspection and the necessary documentation for this Club event. There was an air of nervousness among some of the navigators, a bit unclear what the new format might mean for them. Special Tests were pretty easy to understand, although competing in the dark would add a new dimension.
On the regularity, a long final section would be timed to the second, again calling for a different approach inside the car. They need not have worried, they all seemed to love it, and at the finish they couldn’t wait to see the results.
From the Rugby Club start, crews went out to Killyman to drive through the first test as darkness closed in. A nice lane with both gravel and concrete saw Stewartstown’s Trevor Ferguson and David McElroy stop the clock at 47 seconds, and that would turn out to be the fastest time of the night. Mark Faulkner and Ashley Boulton were just one second behind, and like Ferguson, driving a Mazda MX5. Fastest on this test from Class 3, Novices, was Mark Stewart and Alan Gilkinson, just three seconds slower than Ferguson.
Two sections of regularity followed and only four crews avoided penalty here. Mark Faulkner, Leslie and Gareth Hawe, Ciaran and Rachel Carey, and William Strain and Robert Hall all completed the two sections with zero marks lost. Trevor Ferguson had been going well on the first section, but an error on the second cost them 45 marks.
These two sections left crews near Mullaghbane where the second test awaited. By now it was completely dark and the challenge of a narrow, partly unsurfaced farm lane was a great challenge. This time Mark Faulkner was quickest with Mark Stewart second and Trevor Ferguson third. Only four seconds separated the top three on the test. This left Faulkner in the clear lead of the rally with zero penalty points, and another regularity section to come.
Faulkner’s navigator, Ashley Boulton, need not have worried, as they completed the next section without penalty as well. Several crews managed to avoid penalties here, with Malcolm McQueen and Grace Campbell, Kenny and Peter Anderson in their Renault Clio, Ciaran and Rachel Carey, and Husband and Wife team, Gavin and Rosemary Campbell “cleaned the section.
Now crews were over near Happer’s Bridge, and the third test of the night near Bockets Hill. Faulkner made a slip on the greasy farmyard concrete and dropped 15 seconds to his rivals, but his lead was enough to keep him in the top position. William Strain in his Subaru Impreza was going well as he brought his Subaru Impreza into this third test, but he too made a mistake which cost him 23 penalty marks. Ballygawley Cousins Leslie and Gareth Hawe were now in second place overall, and showing a good balance of regularity and test driving.
The final regularity would be timed to the second so crews were required to maintain exactly 30 MPH with penalties for each ten seconds away from correct time. None of the crews managed to avoid penalties. Best were Daniel and John Henderson from Loughgall, and Neil Fletcher and Rodney McCready in their Ford Escort. Both these crews just dropped just two marks at one of the secret controls.
Now it was back to Killyman for a repeat of the first test, this time done in pitched dark conditions. Trevor Ferguson was fastest again on this test, and Mark Faulkner managed to clip a pylon and attract a ten second penalty. In Class 3, Dungannon Brothers Dougie and Glenn Millar were fasted through the test, and with Faulkner’s pylon fault, the Class 4 honours went to Darren Fleck and Gary Wilson in a BMW, who tied n time with Coagh diver Damien Mooney navigated by Conor Nevin.
Back at the finish in Dungannon Rugby Club, supper was taken, and teams waited to see how they had fared on this innovative event. Sponsor Trevor Falloon congratulated the club on such a creative approach to navigation rallies, and could tell by the animated conversations that everybody had a great evening of Club Motor Sport.
- M Faulkner / A Boulton (MX5) – 26 marks
- L Hawe / G Hawe (MX5) – 36 marks
- D Henderson / J Henderson (Micra) – 40 marks
- N Fletcher / R McCready (Escort) – 42 marks
- M McQueen / G Campbell (MX5) – 49 marks
- K Anderson / P Anderson (Clio) – 70 marks
- C Carey / R Carey (Nova) – 78 marks
- W Strain / R Hall (Impreza) – 83 marks
- D Millar / G Millar (VW Golf) – 90 marks
- D Fleck / G Wilson (BMW) – 119 marks
Full Results Here: