Slate Fuels Targa – Cookstown

Photo: Jim Halferty
Eric Patterson and Raymond Donaldson were flying high on their way to the closest of wins.


Dungannon Rally Star Eric Patterson, accompanied as usual by Raymond Donaldson, took yet another win at the Slate Fuels Targa Rally held in Cookstown in their trusty Mazda MX5. Many of the front runners fell foul of the pylons early on in the event leaving Eric Patterson and David Crothers to battle it out during the day.

David Crothers and Barbara Kane led for most of the day but were pipped at the post by just one second. Photo PeeSpeed.

Competitors would tackle a loop of six tests, three times.  Five of the six special tests were held inside the Davagh Forest Park complex with just one concrete lane near Lough Fea.  Norman Ferguson was to be quickest out of the traps to take the early lead after test one, with another Dungannon driver Mark Stewart in second  place.

Malcolm McDowell would be fastest on test 2 to take the lead momentarily, and ran with the top drivers all day until retiring on the last loop of tests.  That second test saw a total of 17 drivers receive maximum time penalties including fancied runners Christopher Evans, Eamon Byrne and Norman Ferguson.

Leader after the first test were Norman Ferguson and Jason Dobbin in their Peugeot 106 GTi. An incorrect second test would spoil their day completely. Photo Adrian Hanna

Top seeds, Christopher Evans and Kevin Fagan, went the wrong way in the very first car park which incurred a maximum time penalty plunging him from a potential win to 30th place overall.  Byrne would break a drive shaft on one of the tight circles around a pylon.

Eric Patterson beat the bogey times on six of the eighteen tests, which meant he struggled all day to make a break from fierce rival David Crothers.  Crothers, partnered as usual by Barbara Kane, looked to have the upper hand for most of the day, but Patterson just pipped them on the last three tests to win by one second.

Stewartstown’s Trevor Ferguson, partnered by David McIlroy, increased their pace steadily during the day to finish a creditable fifth place overall, while neighbours Craig McCullough and Steven Ferguson would win the semi-experts class for front wheel drive cars and take thirteenth place overall.

Stewartstown’s Craig McCullough and Stevie Ferguson are watched closely by the marshal on their way to an easy Class win for Semi-Experts. Photo Adrian Hanna.

Semi-Expert Mark Stewart, with Chris Hobson in the hot seat, would set many top five times during the day in their Mazda MX5, and but for a flat tyre on test two, might have been even higher up the leaderboard than the seventh place they finished.

Young Cookstown driver Ryan McIvor is a newcomer to the scene and accompanied by navigator Josh McAdoo finished in a respectable top 10 finish in Novice Class 6.

Although the weather was generally kind to competitors, the forest roads were slippy in places and managed to catch a few drivers out at the stop lines.  Test 10 was unfortunately cancelled after one competitor got their Mazda MX5 stuck close to the finish line, which held following competitors up and left the organisers no choice but scrap the test.

Young Ryan McIvor is finding his feet on these Targa Rallies and was in the top 10 in his class. Photo Adrian Hanna

The event ran smoothly with minimal delays and crews were back at the Shepherd’s Rest Restaurant near Draperstown by late afternoon.

You can find the full results by clicking here ===> RESULTS





Eric Patterson and Raymond Donaldson receive two more trophies for their cabinets, which now must be brimming full of awards. Left to Right – John Nicholl (Cookstown MC), Eric Patterson, Raymond Donaldson, and Sean Devlin (Cookstown MC).
Wicklow driver Eamonn Byrne sets about replacing the broken drive-shaft on his Toyota Starlet as the other competitors roar past on Test 2. Despite this he would eventually finish third in his class.