North Armagh Targa 2018

Photo: Derek Smyth
Paul Mooney and Jason Bell topped the times in their Vauxhall Nova.

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. 

Top-seeded driver Chris Evans, with Kevin Fagan navigating, led the event initially but couldn’t match Mooney’s pace.  2nd Overall was their reward.

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.

Dungannon crew Eric Patterson and Raymond Donaldson put up a good fight and were just pipped for third place overall on the very last test.

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.

David Burns and Conor Murphy finished a fantastic 3rd place Overall.

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.

Gareth Miller and Walter Acheson had a trouble-free day and took third place in Class 4

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.

Dougie and Glenn Millar press hard on that outside tyre on their way to 4th place in Class 3.

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.

Trevor and Stephen Ferguson would uphold Tyrone honours with a fine 9th place overall.

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

Hayes Robinson and Keith Hall work their way through the dust to finish fifth in Class 3.



Class Results

Class 1: Expert FWD

Paul Mooney and Jason Bell were untouchable all day. Even two pylon faults couldn’t prevent them from winning the class, and the event overall.

1. P Mooney & J Bell – Vauxhall Nova

David Burns and Conor Murphy on their way to second in Class 1

2. D Burns & C Murphy – Ford Fiesta

3. M Mason & C McSherry – Nissan Micra

Class 2: Expert RWD

Chris Evans tried hard all day but had to be happy with 2nd place overall.

1. C Evans & K Fagan – Toyota MR2

Eric Patterson neatly circles a pylon on his way to 4th place overall.

2. E Patterson & R Donaldson – Mazda MX5

John O’Reilly and Nick Sparks

3. J O’Reilly & N Sparks – Toyota MR2

Class 3: Semi-Expert FWD

Mark and Alan Gillis pull the dust along with them on their way to a fine win in Class 3

1. M Gillis & A Gillis – Ford Puma

Kenny and Peter Anderson in their Renault Clio.

2. K Anderson & P Anderson – Renault Clio

Andrew Earney and Rachael O’Boyle

3. A Earney & R O’Boyle – Toyota Yaris

Class 4: Semi-Expert RWD

Angus Johnson and Dion Coyle won Class 4 by 50 seconds.

1. A Johnson & D Coyle – Mazda MX5

Drew Wylie and David Johnston.

2. D Wylie & D Johnston – Mazda MX5

Gareth Miller and Walter Acheson.

3. G Miller & W Acheson – Mazda MX5

Class 5: Novice FWD

Andrew Emerson and Matthew Porter would take the Class 5 honours.

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

Paul and Wesley Magill were winners of Class 6.

1. P Magill & W Magill – Mazda MX5

2. A Hayes & A Robinson – Mazda MX5

3. A Gilmore & T Madden – Mazda MX5