After spending almost 2 months in weekly navigation classes, the participants in Dungannon Motor Club’s Rally School got to put into practice everything they had learned on a real navigation rally. The Snowdrop rally was designed specifically for crews with little or no experience, with no experts or semi-experts classes. Despite the experienced crews being ineligible, the rally still attracted 18 crews, surpassing the number competing in most of the Northern Ireland Championship rallies last year. This intense effort by Dungannon Motor Club illustrates what it takes to regenerate interest in this relatively inexpensive form of club motorsport.
The event itself was actually a “Circuit of Dungannon”. On a beautiful, dry night, the start was just outside Moygashel, and looped South through Syerla, North of Eglish, skirted Granville and over to Parkanaur. It then headed round the outskirts of Castlecaulfield, Donaghmore, and Newmills, crossed the Dungannon to Coalisland road to Bush and Laghey and finished just outside the Moy.
As well as having 18 competitors, there were also 18 manned checkpoints where average speed would be checked. By the end of the first competitive section, only four crews had avoided penalty. Gareth and Leslie Hawe in reversed roles, Paul and Olwen Blair, Derek and Anne Smyth, and Kenny and Peter Anderson all made it to Time Control B penalty free. Admittedly, the Novice Class competitors only received their instructions at the Control A, while the rest had the details at the start.
By the relaxed section, after 4 competitive sections, Paul and Olwen Blair had only dropped one mark, and were to finish the event with the lowest overall score to emerge winners of the event. The first three places overall came from the Rally School class, which was a great outcome for the event, and for the Rally School. Back at the Finish at the Dungannon Rugby Club, there was a great buzz as these first-timers compared notes and explained away mistakes as they waited for the results to be posted. As winner of the event, Paul and Olwen Blair thanked the Club for all the effort that had gone into the navigation classes, and the Snowdrop event, and especially the marshals who turned out on the night to make the event run.