In a dazzling display of driving, Robert Woodside Jr and navigator Bruce Drummond won the Circuit of Ulster Targa Rally, this being their first time out in a Toyota MR2. Woodside led the rally from start to finish, setting the quickest time on 5 of the 16 tests, and ending up 16 seconds clear of David Crothers and Barbara Kane in an MX5.
10 Motor Clubs came together to organise this Multi Venue Targa Rally, taking crews over 260 miles of Northern Ireland’s most scenic roads. With £100 of each entry being donated to Northern Ireland Air Ambulance, the 120 crews raised £12,000 for this worthwhile charity.
There were two start locations, Larne and Toome, to facilitate the large number of competitors, and this meant that all crews got away without major delays to enjoy a great days rallying in beautiful weather. A wide loop of tests took crews to Dungiven, Limavady, Portstewart, Bushmills, the Antrim Coast Road, Larne and Nutts Corner.
Tyrone drivers featured strongly with Dungannon’s Eric Patterson having a near perfect drive leaving him in 3rd Place overall. A day-long battle with David Crothers and Dungannon’s Mark Stewart was finally settled in Crothers’ favour with Stewart having to settle for fourth place, six seconds adrift.
Cookstown Driver Keith McIvor made his first outing in a newly acquired Mazda MX5 and with his son Ryan navigating, overcame an early flurry of penalties to come from 60th overall to finish 13th.
Not so lucky was reigning Northern Ireland Autotest Champion, Paul Mooney. Navigated as usual by Lorraine McMorrow, his fast start came to a halt with a failed clutch after test 3. Meanwhile brother Damien was having a steady, error free drive to finish sixth overall, and first front wheel drive car home winning Class 1.
Robert Woodside Jr surprised many, including himself, with the competitiveness of the little Toyota MR2. No stranger to success at the wheel of a Mazda MX5, he showed himself to be a threat in any car. That said, the real winner on the day was the Northern Ireland Air Ambulance. A service to all sport, including two and four wheels, is a cause well worth supporting.
1st – R Woodside/ B Drummond (MR2)
2nd – D Crothers/ B Kane (MX5)
3rd – E Patterson/ R Donaldson (MX5)
4th – M Stewart/ C Hobson (MX5)
5th – S Woodside/ S Dowds (MX5)
Class Winners –
C1 – D Mooney/ T Anderson (Saxo)
C2 – R Woodside/ B Drummond (MR2)
C3 – D Doran/ J Doran (Starlet)
C4 – M Stewart/ C Hobson (MX5)
C5 – D Hamill/ N Quinn (Peugeot 106)
C6 – P Williamson/ C Kennedy (MX5)