Even an overnight fall of snow on the Sperrins couldn’t stop Robert Woodside Jr. from taking yet another Targa Rally win at Magherafelt’s Glenview Trophies Targa Rally. After a slow start, Robert Woodside Jr, navigated as usual by Bruce Drummond, reeled in the opposition and beat David Crothers and Barbera Kane by seven seconds, with Eamonn Byrne and Joanna Lenehan third, another six seconds adrift.
The Magherafelt and District Motor Club had laid on five tests to be done three times, dropping off the very last test in case it got too late and try to let everybody compete in daylight. One of the tests would be in Glenshane Forest, while the others would be farm lanes in the Tobermore and Maghera areas.
Unfortunately 41 of the 70 crews managed to beat the bogey time on Test 1, producing the most joint leaders of an event in living memory. On Test 2, Mark Woodside and Andy Blair were fastest and took the overall lead for themselves, with Stephen McFerran and Seamus McCosker second, and the local stars, John and Grainne O’Kane, in third.
Two more farm lanes and it was into the forest at Glenshane. This would be the undoing of Neil and Laura Fletcher who’s Escort Mk1 would spend most of the day in the ditch, and an early retirement. Even less lucky than that was Dublin driver Christopher Evans. On the way to the forest test he would get caught out on a snowy, muddy patch of road and end up damaging the front of his Mazda MX5 against a tree. No injuries to himself or co-pilot Daniel Byrne, but the car was unable to continue.
By the end of the forest test, Robert Woodside was up into second place, and from there to the finish, only David Crothers and Barbara Kane would challenge for the lead. Young Dungannon driver, Mark Stewart, navigated by Philip McCrea, was holding a fine 5th place overall, just 5 seconds ahead of the O’Kanes in seventh. Ardboe driver Damien Mooney had already changed a drive shaft on his Saxo after it snapped leaving the start line of Test 4, but brother Paul was doing better in his Nova and holding 11th place.
Tests 6 through 10 would be a repeat of the morning loop. The O’Kanes would find themselves well off the road on Test 6 and that put an end to their great run. Test 10 would be a repeat of the Forest stage and this time, seventeen crews managed to beat the bogey, much to the disappointment of the leading competitors and organisers alike. David Crothers was now 3 seconds ahead of Woodside and just three farm lane tests to go. Paul Mooney was up to 5th with Co-driver Lorraine McMorrow, but disaster would strike on Test 11 when a lead came off the ignition module, and the time lost locating and fixing the problem cost them a certain top 5 finish.
Over the closing three tests, Robert Woodside edged past David Crothers to win by just seven seconds, beating the bogey on another test for good measure. Eric Patterson would be the highest Local driver in 10th Overall, with Mark Stewart close behind in 12th place. Damien Mooney recovered from his drive shaft failure to finish 13th, but this would be a small consolation considering his pace on the tests, and like his brother Paul, a top 5 place was on the cards.
Local Tyrone crews took home quite a haul of prizes in the Classes. Damien Mooney and Conor Nevin still achieved 3rd place in Class 1, while Brother Paul and Lorraine McMorrow were 3rd in Class 3. Mark Stewart and Philip McCrea were second in the semi-experts Class 4, and Dungannon Brothers Douglas and Glenn Millar brought their VW Golf home an excellent third place in Class 5, the largest Class on the rally. A measured run through the tricky tests, avoidance of pylon faults, and keeping the pressure on all day paid dividends, and only 10 seconds behind the Class Winners.
Full results can be found by using the Rallyscore.net link