Hunter and Woodside “Tie-up” Springfling Targa Rally
Dungannon Motor Club were delighted to wave off 50 crews on their annual Springfling Targa Rally, sponsored this year by Donaghmore building firm, Moore & Faloon. For this year’s event, based at the Patterson Centra M1 Dungannon, the Club had laid on six tests which would be tackled three times each over the course of Saturday 29th April.
Competitors were split into the usual categories, Experts, Semi-Experts and Novices, and each category sub-divided depending on whether their car was front or rear wheel drive. On this occasion there were 12 Experts, 18 Semi-Experts and 20 Novice drivers, with an almost 50:50 split on cars between front and rear wheel drive.
The action got under way at 10am with a run out the Aughnacloy road to two tests at Fairview House. Straight away car number one, Philip Hunter (Toyota MR2), with daughter Kim calling directions, tied for fastest time with Robert Woodside (Mazda MX5) and Steven Dowds. Two seconds behind were Eamonn Byrne and daughter Emma (Toyota Yaris) from Wicklow, tied as well with Brendan and Damien Mooney, also in a Mazda MX5.
On the second Fairview, the same two crews tied for fastest time, and it already looked like this was going to be a day of very close competition. On the same time as these two were Robert Robinson and Ronnie Griffin in another Toyota Yaris, and young Brendan Mooney now showing his speed with his brother Damien on-board.
Among the Semi-Expert crews, Mark King and Steven Ferguson (MX5) and Kevin Daly and Alan Williamson (Hyundai Accent) were snapping at the Experts’ heels, and in the Novice classes, Derek and Adam Brogan (MX5) and event sponsor Michael Faloon / Jonathan Hayes in his newly acquired Toyota MR2 were establishing themselves at the top of the novice leaderboard.
The third test at Lockhart’s Lane saw Philip Hunter break the tie for the rally lead with another fastest time, shared this time with Brendan Mooney. On the long Smith’s Lane, Mooney would snatch the lead from Hunter with a sparkling time of 1minute 49 seconds, a second clear of Woodside, and three clear of both Hunter and Robinson.
His lead didn’t last long however, as the young Ardboe driver took the wrong route on the following test at Hayes Fuel Yard, and incurred a maximum time penalty. From first place to twenty-first place in the blink of an eye and Hunter was back in front – a position he would hope to maintain to the end of the event.
On this dusty, slippy surface at Hayes Fuels, fourteen other crews made the same mistake as Brendan Mooney and incurred penalty seconds, including Eamonn and Emma Byrne who were holding fifth place at the time. Robert Woodside struggled with traction here, and sat just one second behind the Hunters going into the last test of the first loop.
Situated near Killyman, the Hadden’s Lane test was only 0.3 of a mile long with three cone manoeuvres and two boxes in which competitors had to come to a stop. Brendan Mooney must have taken all his frustration out on this test to set fastest time at 53 seconds, a full five quicker than Mark King and Trevor Ferguson, both in similar cars, with Novices Robin and Caleb Cuddy another second behind. On this test, Robert Robinson got a little carried away and lost some time when he arrived at one of the stop boxes going backwards.
At the end of this first loop of tests, Philip and Kim Hunter were in the lead from Robert Woodside by just 4 seconds, with Semi-Expert Mark King now in third place. Tied for fourth were Trevor Ferguson (MX5) and Kevin Daly, who was driving his Hyundai Accent with great gusto, surprising onlookers with his precision in such a large car. In sixth place were the Dungannon pairing of Darrell and Jordan Burns in their Ford Fiesta.
Top Novices at this stage were Derek and Adam Brogan from Ballymoney in their Mazda MX5, but Michael Faloon wasn’t far away in his Toyota MR2, just one second behind.
On the second loop of the same six tests, times generally improved by a few seconds as drivers were now more familiar with the placement of pylons, and the layout of the tests. Brendan Mooney set fastest time on tests 8, 9, 10, and 11, but ground to a halt on the final test of the loop with a broken differential mounting and his day was over. Also in trouble on this loop was Arthur and Adam McMullan in their smart Ford Anglia. The electric fuel pump, installed to improve reliability, stopped working and they also coasted into retirement.
Robert Woodside had settled into a nice rhythm by now and was matching Hunter’s and Mooney’s pace. A slip on Smith’s lane the second run however gifted Hunter seven seconds, and Cookstown driver’s lead at the end of the loop stood at just six seconds. Semi-Expert Mark King was still third, and behind there was Robert Robinson tied with Semi-Expert Kevin Daly in that big Hyundai in fourth place overall.
In the Novice category, the Brogans were still leading in their MX5 and now into the top 10 places overall. Michael Faloon was nine seconds adrift, in part due to a five second pylon penalty on Smith’s Lane. Third novices, with just the final loop to do, were Robin and Caleb Cuddy (Toyota MR2).
To catch Hunter, Woodside needed to be at least one second per test faster over the remaining six tests. On the two Fairview tests, both crews set the same time, and it would be test 3 at Lockhart’s Lane before Woodside took his first second. On Smith’s he took another, and at Hayes Fuels yard he stopped the clock one second quicker again. One short test to go and the gap was just three seconds. Despite Hunter matching his earlier time, Woodside managed to set a time three faster on the final test. A tie after twenty one and a half minutes of test competition.
Best of the Semi Experts were Newmills driver Mark King and Stewartown’s Steven Ferguson, despite a late drama on the Hayes Fuels Test when the power steering belt came adrift, and Mark had to run back down the test to see if he could recover it. He did find it, and refitted it so he could continue. Despite all this he would still finish in third place overall and will surely be in the Experts Class next time out.
Best Novice crew were Derek and Adam Brogan who finished in eleventh place overall, and he too must now move up a category into the Semi-Expert Class.
You can get full results here ===> RESULTS
- P.Hunter/K.Hunter (MR2) 21:28;
- R.Woodside/S.Dowds (MX5) 21:28;
- M.King/S.Ferguson (MX5) 22:20;
- R.Robinson/R.Griffin (Yaris) 22:32;
- T.Ferguson/A.Ferguson (MX5) 22:37;
- D.Burns/J.Burns (Fiesta) 22:39
- Class 1 – R.Robinson/R.Griffin (Yaris)
- Class 2 – P.Hunter (MR2) & R.Woodside (MX5)
- Class 3 – K.Daly/A.Williamson (Hyundai)
- Class 4 – M.King/T.Ferguson (MX5)
- Class 5 – B.Woodside/I O’Hara (Starlet)
- Class 6 – D.Brogan/A.Brogan (MX5)