Byrne Takes Tyrone Targa Win after Tie Decider.
Forty seven crews showed up at Gortin Community Centre for the last-but-one Targa Rally of the year. Omagh Motor Club had prepared an interesting event with a mix of tests and regularity for their first Targa event, and despite a few teething problems, the result was a good day’s fun for all.
Things got under way within the grounds of the Community Centre with a short test that included a water splash after just 100m. Unfortunately for Gilmore Magee and Mervyn Gregg, that would be as far as they would go. Their car stopped after the water and would not start again, so perhaps their shortest rally ever.
Fastest time would be shared between Eamonn Byrne (Starlet) and Norman Ferguson (106GTi), with David Crothers (MX5) and Frank Lenehan (Starlet) just one second behind. Chris Evans (MX5), Dermot Carnegie (Escort), and Michael Duke (MX5) were equal on the next second, so it looked like it was going to be a close day’s competition.
Next up was the first regularity section; 14.4 miles long with four code boards to be found, and three intermediate secret checks. Lucky for Byrne and Smyth the penalties weren’t too severe for missing code board as they only found three of them!
Despite that, by the mid point of the event back in Gortin, Byrne was ahead of Christopher Evans by two seconds, with Allan Harryman (MR2) third and Dermot Carnegie having a great run in fourth. Early leader David Crothers, despite a broken front shock absorber, would be in fifth, just ahead of Stuart Annesley (MX5).
Crothers’ day would get worse on the second time through the water splash, cutting the bridge exit a bit close and damaging the front wheel and suspension. That put an end to his run and he had to pack the car on the trailer and head home.
In the Semi-Experts category, the front-wheel-drives were being led by Stewartstown’s Craig McCullough in his Peugeot 205, and he and his navigator Steven Ferguson were in a fabulous ninth place overall. The Whelans were next in their Starlet, and newly promoted Dougie Millar was running in third place in his VW Golf. They were recovering well from a puncture on the regularity section – the worst possible place to have one!
In the rear wheel drive Semi-Experts, Mark Stewart was running in second place in his MX5, partnered as usual by Chris Hobson, and just over twenty seconds behind class leader Stuart Annesley.
In the novices FWD, Gordon Noble and Son were well out in front of Martin Conlon, Ronnie Boyd, and John Convery. In the RWD, Leslie McLean from Donaghmore would be having a great run with navigator Andrew Emerson to lie second in class behind Gareth Miller, and well clear of Jordan Minta, all of them in MX5s.
At the finish, the results would show that Byrne held his lead all the way to the last test but would end up on the same exact time as Christopher Evans. The tie decider mechanism looks at who was fastest on the first test, and there it was Byrne who stopped the clock two seconds quicker than Evans. Dermot Carnegie would record a great third placee overall, just ahead of Allan Harryman’s beautiful Toyota MR2.
Damien Mooney would finish third in Class 1 and seventh overall, ahead of Norman Ferguson who had the misfortune to fail one of the afternoon tests. Dougie Millar and Son Simon would hold on to third place in Class 3, and Mark Stewart would take second in Class 4. Drew Wiley and Dungannon’s Malcolm McQueen would finish fourth in that class.
Best local performance in Class 5 would be Ronnie Boyd and Dungannon Navigator Glenn Millar in their Ford Puma, taking fourth place in the largest class of the day with 19 entrants. Class 6 would see Donaghmore’s Leslie McLean take second place, and a lovely glass trophy to take home.
This was a great start for Omagh Motor Club on their Targa Rally career, and with just four MX5s in the top ten, produced a most interesting day’s competition. Roll on next year.
Full results can be found here ==>RESULTS