This report first appeared in the Northern Standard newspaper in November 1980.
Wright and Fannin make it “Three-In-A-Row”
LOCAL crew David Wright and Leslie Fannin made history on the Drumlin Rally (sponsors: Lindsay Burncy & Sons of Armagh), run by the County Monaghan Motor Club on November 8th last, by winning the event for the third year in succession. The event was a round of the Shellsport National Rally Championship.
Thirty crews from all over Ireland started the National Championship event at Stranooden. 160 miles of twisty roads and tricky navigation lay ahead of them on the all-night event. Clerk of the Course, Tommy Humphries, did what many people thought impossible by using mile alter mile of territory which had never been visited before on a navigation rally. The route took the cars by Aughnamullen and Shantonagh down into the Carrickmacross-Shercock area where most of the first section was run. It took very few miles before trouble struck two of the main contenders. David Yeates and Paul Phelan (Fiat) from Dublin got two flat wheels while David Patton and Mark Slevin, also from Dublin, parked their Escort on a ditch outside Rockcorry and there it remained tor most of the night. Wright and Fannin also got a flat wheel but luckily lost no time by it. Willie Moffett and Ivor Ferguson broke a fan-belt on their Opel beside Latton while they still had a clean sheet and were forced to retire.
At the petrol halt outside Newbliss, several crews had to nurse their cars into the control, being virtually out of fuel, but the pattern of the rally was well established. A close battle for the lead was on with three crews in contention. Frank Fennell and Frank O’Donoghue (Escort), from Dublin, were leading the event, still without penalty, while two local crews, David Wright/Leslie Fannin and Robert Moffett/Gerard Kelly, were tied for second place, both just one minute down. Two other local crews were also making their presence felt at the petrol halt, Bertie Wedlock/David Hamilton (Escort) and Ronnie Hawe/Martin McKenna were both up into the top ten. Sadly for Ronnie and Martin, the lights were soon to fail on their Avenger but they battled on and still managed to finish second in their class.
It is said history repeats itself and the Drumlin Rally is no exception from that rule. As in other years, the last section decided the final results. More drama ensued; Yeates and Phelan got yet another flat, as did Wright and Fannin but just one mile from final control. This time they didn’t stop to change it and they cleared the last section of the rally. A tricky bit of navigation outside Tullyvin caught both O’Donoghue and Kelly, the former losing two minutes, the latter losing three before they directed their drivers to an elusive check-point on the main Cavan-Cootehill road. Wright and Fannin were outright winners again and I don’t think anybody would disagree when I say that this must surely establish Leslie (this was Fannin’s fourth win in five years) as the best navigator of all time on Map No. 8 (the toughest map in Ireland to find Your way around).
- David Wright/Leslie Fannin (Avenger 1600) 1;
- Frank Fennell/Frank O’Donoghue (Mexico) 2;
- Robert Moffett/Gerard Kelly (RS2000) 4;
- Pat O’Connor/Peter Scott (Daihatsu) 12;
- David Yeates/Paul Phelan (Fiat 127) 15;
- A. Murray/D. Johnston (Alfasud) 26;
- M. Breslin/H. Inglis (Datsun 120Y) 49;
- B. Wedlock/D. Hamilton (Escort) 63;
- T. O’Mahony/V. Couglan (Escort) 66;
- M. O’Connor/A. Cavanagh (Starlet) 69;
- P. O’Connor / P. Scott, 12;
- M. Breslin / H. Inglis, 49;
- M. O’Connor / A. Cavanagh, 69.
- S. O‘Riordan / J. Hurley, 89;
- R. Hawe / M. McKenna, 221;
- M. McGrory / N. Coyle, 310.
- D. Yeates / P. Phelan, 15;
- T. O’Mahony / V. Coughlan, 64;
- S. Mooney / R. McCauley, 329.
- A. Murray / D. Johnston, 26;
- B. Wedlock / D. Hamilton, 63;
- W. White / A. Nairn. 210