On August 13, Eric Patterson was back on form at Rathfriland Motor Club’s 2016 “Around-A-Pound” Rally with a fine third place overall, and just seven seconds off the lead. Partnered as usual by Raymond Donaldson, Eric was never far off the lead position, running second for the early part of the day, and completed the event’s seventeen tests without incident.
The rally was based in Poyntzpass, County Armagh, and a full entry of sixty cars lined up for the start at 10:30am. Last year’s winners of the event, Mathew Mason and Peter Scott, led the field away for the first loop of six tests, five of them in the grounds of Scarvagh House Estate, and the other at the sponsor’s Around-A-Pound depot near Sheepsbridge.
Short tests mean tight competition, and with most tests at one third of a mile or less, the times were always going to be close. After the first loop of six, Robert Woodside Jr and Bruce Drummond were in the lead by four seconds, and tied behind them were Eric Patterson and Wicklow driver Christopher Evans, all of them in Mazda MX5s.
Destined for a tough come-back drive was Stewartstown’s Stephen Ferguson and Milton McWilliams in their Peugeot 106. A missed stop box on test 2 gave them a 30 second penalty, and a burden that would put most people out of the running. Not Stephen, however. Plunging to 43rd overall, he was up to 25th by the end of the loop, up to ninth by the end of the second loop, and in 4th place at the finish line. This was a fantastic performance by this multiple Autotest Champion.
Meanwhile, Christopher Evans, navigated by Kevin Fagan, was ahead of Eric Patterson by the end of the second loop, but by just one second. In fourth place at this stage was another Tyrone crew, Paul Mooney and Lorraine McMorrow in their Vauxhall Nova, but on the last loop they would also fall foul of a stop box and dropped to twelfth overall by the finish.
On the last loop of tests, some of which were cutting up quite badly by now, the top three crews traded times and never more than a second or two apart. In fact, on the penultimate test, all of the top four crews set the same time exactly.
His terrific come-back drive gave Stephen Ferguson and Milton McWilliams the top place in Class 1 for Front Wheel Drive cars. Daniel Byrne managed to beat is Uncle Eamonn to second in that class, with Damien Mooney taking fourth place ahead of Brother Paul. In Class 2 for Rear Wheel Drive, the top three places were the top three crews overall, with Woodside ahead of Evans by two seconds, and ahead of Patterson by seven.
In Class 3 for semi-experts, Davy Young and Johanne McCann were placed third in their classic Mini Cooper, while the top semi-expert Tyrone crew in Class 4 (Rear Wheel Drive) were Gilmore Magee and Mervyn Gregg in fifth place.
Even though the tests were short, and became rough towards the end, most crews had a great day of Club Motorsport, and everybody made it home safely.
Full results can be found at -> RESULTS