Mooney Magnificent at May Targa
Report by Grace Campbell
Photos by Derek Smyth
Current NI Autotest Champion Paul Mooney partnered by Jason Bell showed that he has the skills to win on a Targa Rally in Vauxhall Nova, as well as in his Mini Special at an Autotest and were delighted winners at the North Armagh Burkes of Cornascriebe May Targa.
Crews could not have wished for better weather as they gathered at Turkington’s Yard in Portadown early on Saturday morning, but it was to be dust that made it challenging for drivers, but even more so for the officials who had to stand out to marshal the tests and run the timing system.
Tyrone drivers featured at the top of almost all the Classes on the day with three class winners and two in the runners-up position. For front wheel drive cars, Paul Mooney and Jason Bell took the honours in Class 1 – Experts with David Burns and Conor Murphy taking second place, Mark and Alan Gillis for Class 3 – Semi-Experts, and Andrew Emerson and Matthew Porter in Class 5 – Novices. In the rear wheel drive classes, Eric Patterson and Raymond Donaldson were runners-up in Class 2 – Experts, Gareth Miller and Walter Acheson were third in Class 4 – Semi-Experts, and Alastair Hayes and Andrew Robinson were runners-up in Class 6 – Novices.
The event didn’t get underway as Paul Mooney had hoped thanks to a penalty on test 1 that left him fourth fastest, and already trailing behind leaders Christopher Evans by five seconds. He had made up for this early error by the third test that brought him back into contention. Mooney would go on to set quickest times on seven of the sixteen tests.
Wicklow’s Christopher Evans and regular navigator Kevin Fagan would hold the lead for almost the whole of the first loop of tests in their Toyota MR-2 and it would be test 5 before Paul Mooney’s Nova would inch ahead of them. A solid drive from David Burns and Connor Murphy in their Ford Fiesta would be enough to secure third place, and edge out the Mazda MX-5 of Eric Patterson and Raymond Donaldson on the final test of the day.
In the Semi-Experts FWD Class, Mark and Alan Gillis in their Ford Puma were having a close dice with Kenny and Peter Anderson in their Renault Clio. The Gillis brothers would win the class by a tiny 4 seconds from the Anderson father and son pairing, and finish a tremendous 12thand 13thplace overall respectively.
The RWD Semi-Expert win would go to Angus Johnson partnered by Dion Coyle, also leaving them 6th overall. This fantastic drive saw them win Class 4 by 50 seconds, Drew Wylie being second and Stewartstown’s Gareth Miller, partnered by Walter Acheson came home third.
In the Novices section, the FWD class would be led by the brother and sister crew of Dungannon’s Gary and Grace Campbell in their Citroen Saxo, until a mechanical failure on test 4 left them out of the running. Class winners would be Andrew Emerson and Matthew Porter in their Vauxhall Nova. Behind them were Anthony Quinn and Stephen Kelly in a Ford Puma in second and Nigel Hagan and Anthony Mitchell brought their Peugeot 206 home third in class. In the RWD class, 25 Mazda MX-5’s were entered and 6 Toyota MR2s, but no MR2s would make it into the top ten in this class.
The MX-5 of Paul and Wesley Magill would lead the way in this class, followed closely by Alastair Hayes and Andrew Robinson and third place in class would go to Andrew Gilmore and Thomas Madden.
Twenty-seven of the eighty-one crews who started hailed from Tyrone, including Stewartstown’s Ferguson Clan, Dungannon brothers Dougie and Glenn Millar and the Mazda of Chris Nelson and Ian Beavis to name but a few.
Yet again North Armagh Motor Club had laid on a slick event. Despite the tricky and dusty conditions, most agreed it was an excellent event and the weather made it even more enjoyable. Next time, the Targa circus moves to North-UlsterCar Club for their event on the 7th July.
You can get the full results here: ===> RESULTS
Class 1: Expert FWD
1. P Mooney & J Bell – Vauxhall Nova
2. D Burns & C Murphy – Ford Fiesta
3. M Mason & C McSherry – Nissan Micra
Class 2: Expert RWD
1. C Evans & K Fagan – Toyota MR2
2. E Patterson & R Donaldson – Mazda MX5
3. J O’Reilly & N Sparks – Toyota MR2
Class 3: Semi-Expert FWD
1. M Gillis & A Gillis – Ford Puma
2. K Anderson & P Anderson – Renault Clio
3. A Earney & R O’Boyle – Toyota Yaris
Class 4: Semi-Expert RWD
1. A Johnson & D Coyle – Mazda MX5
2. D Wylie & D Johnston – Mazda MX5
3. G Miller & W Acheson – Mazda MX5
Class 5: Novice FWD
1. A Emerson & M Porter – Vauxhall Corsa
2. A Quinn & S Kelly – Ford Puma
3. N Hegan & A Mitchell – Peugeot 206
Class 6: Novice RWD
1. P Magill & W Magill – Mazda MX5
2. A Hayes & A Robinson – Mazda MX5
3. A Gilmore & T Madden – Mazda MX5