MAD Targa in Davagh Snow.
Snow and Ice greeted competitors at the early-morning Shepherd’s Rest start of the Magherafelt and District (MAD) Motor Club Targa Rally. As it turned out, once inside the forest, the snow would not be a major factor in the final results, and Robert Woodside Jr, partnered as usual by Bruce Drummond, rose to the top to take another outright win.
The first test was a concrete lane on the way up to Davagh Forest, and here the ice was a factor. So much so, the organisers had to cancel the test as several competitors just couldn’t get up one of the climbs on the lane. Test 2 was inside the forest, and despite several centimetres of snow in the exposed areas, the front runners still set the best of the times.
Those running later would benefit somewhat from the cleaned up roads, and some new names appeared at the top of the timesheet too. Number 84, Stephen Cromie and Chris Henry, would be equal fastest with Robert Woodside on this first test, while 53, Phillip Hogg, would equal Christopher Evans for fourth fastest. Fast out of the starting blocks was Dungannon’s Alan Jardine in his Mk2 Escort Mexico with a fine 6th place, equalling Eamonn Byrne, Damien Mooney, Richard Meeke, and “sideways” John O’Kane.
The third test was bypassed on the first loop due to too few marshals making it up the mountain to staff the test, although it was possible to run on the second and third laps.
Test 4 was quite a simple test in one of the car parks, but somehow Eric Patterson recorded a time 30 seconds slower than the fastest, who was that man Cromie again. This put Cromie into the lead, a position he would hold until part way through the second loop.
After Loop one, Cromie and Richard Meeke were tied for the lead, but Robert Woodside was next, followed by Christopher Evans, Michael Duke, and Eamonn Byrne. All but Byrne were in Mazda MX5s.
Loop two would see Woodside overtake Cromie for the lead, and the following train of regulars all close the gap on him. Evans, Duke and Byrne were now joined by David Crothers and Barbara Kane, as well as the Coagh team of Damien Mooney and Tony Anderson who was up to seventh place.
Meanwhile, Dougie and Glenn Millar from Dungannon were settling in as leaders in Class 5 in their VW Golf. Initially John Convery’s VW Polo and Ronnie Boyd in the Ford Puma were ahead in the class, but slipped behind the experienced Dungannon duo as the day progressed.
The gap at the end was only 9 seconds, with Boyd second and Convery just one second behind that. A very close battle all day for the Class win.
On the third loop, more of the train of Targa regulars overtook Cromie who held on to finish tied in fifth place with Eric Patterson. Eric was in the top three places on nine of the eighteen tests, and were it not for that unexplained slow time on test 2, might have been challenging for the lead. Sometimes, that’s how it goes in Targa rallying! Woodside was the winner with Evans and Duke in second and third places, and Byrne in fourth.
Damien Mooney would be runner up to Eamonn Byrne in the Masters and Experts Class (FWD) and seventh overall, with Norman Ferguson securing fifth place in the class. Patterson would be the best of the locals in Class 2 (RWD) Masters. In the semi-experts, Peter Faulkner and Dungannon’s Anne Smyth would finish in 6th place, while Gilmore Magee and Mervyn Gregg would come in twelfth.
Dougie and Glenn Millar earned themselves promotion to Class 3 in future Targa Rallies with a great win in the Novice Class. They have been knocking on the door quite a few times, and it is great to see them progress up through the ranks. Trevor Faloon and Chris Hobson took fifth place in this Class.
Class 6 for Rear-Wheel Drives was won by Laim Shaw and “JB” Shaw from Coleraine, and that, combined with a top 20 finish, deserve to go up to the Semi-Experts Class next time.
Fellow Coleraine men, Phillip Hogg and Ian Pollock were second, and only 17 seconds behind that were Dungannon and Ballygawley crew, Alan Jardine and Raymond Knox. Harry Barr and Malcolm McQueen were fifth, Eric and Suzane McIvor sixth and Colin Hazelton and David White eighth.
Club rallies don’t often have snow as one of the challenges, but this made it an event to remember. You can see the full results by clicking here ==> RESULTS