Trevor Tops Tyrones on Targa Tests
(Photos by Leslie McMullan and Raymond Brown)
There may only have been twelve hours of daylight last Saturday, but there were sixteen minutes of Targa Tests on offer at the Ulster Automobile Club’s Equinox Targa Rally. Moneyreagh’s Matthew Mason, partnered by Will Corry, drove his very rapid Nissan Micra on what would become a “start-to-finish” victory. That wasn’t the only surprise in store.
Runners-up by 9 seconds were Semi-Experts Douglas and William Reid in their Mazda MX5, and they, in turn, were just two seconds ahead of Simon Woodside and Mark Faulkner in another MX5.
A total of sixty-four teams assembled at Harrison’s Garden Centre near Greyabbey on the Ards Peninsula, and all but five completed the course. A compact format of eight tests, completed two times with lunch in the middle, was universally popular, and a day on which the rain stayed away made for a lot of fun in the yards and lanes of County Down.
First up was a nice long lane near Ballywalter and at just over three-quarters of a mile long, got things off to a flying start. Mason laid down a marker with the fastest time just five seconds over the target time. Tyrone crews were clipping at his heels though with Eric Patterson just two seconds behind, and Trevor Ferguson three.
A series of tests took competitors up the Ards peninsula and across to Craigantlet. Here the organizers combined two tests that have been used in the past into a single mega-test, and just under a mile long. Already missing were Dermot Carnegie and Mark Fitzsimon in their immaculate Escort Mexico thanks to a seized distributor.
Trevor Ferguson, partnered by Moonraker winner Damien Mooney, showed his true pace on this long test in his MX5 and set the fastest time, with Matthew Mason and Steven Cromie tied just one second behind.
By the time the first loop was completed though, both Trevor Ferguson and Eric Patterson were just holding on to top ten places as the pace at the front was hectic. Sitting in third place overall were John Nolan and Aoife Ryan from Ballycullen, and hence top Semi-Experts in their Toyota Starlet.
Cookstown’s Philip and Ronnie Hunter were impressive in 13th place and top RWD Novices at this stage. Donaghmore’s Leslie McLean and Andrew Emerson were keeping Tyrone crews to the fore and were holding second place in this Class in their MX5, a position they would hold until the end.
Almost unnoticed at the half-way halt were eventual runners-up, Douglas and William Reid in their MX5. A small timing error had added a minute to one of their test times, and this took some time to spot and have corrected. Instead of being thirty-fourth at this stage, they should have been showing in fourth place overall!
A repeat of the eight tests in the afternoon saw times improve, and both Matthew Mason and Mark Francis equaled the target time on the first test of the second loop. Mark Francis, partnered as usual by Gillian Haydon, set a string of fast times in the afternoon to move up the leaderboard into fourth place at the end.
The first car was back at the finish at Harrison’s just after 3 pm, and roughly an hour later the last car rolled across the line. As always, it took a bit of time to get the results finalized with many queries about penalties and strange looking times. Clerk of the Course, Ronnie Mitchell, presented the awards to those in the top places
and thanked all the marshals and timekeepers for their voluntary contribution to a successful event.
Tyrone crews were represented in the top twenty with Trevor Ferguson the best in fifth place overall. Eric Patterson and Raymond Donaldson made it into the top ten in tenth place, and Novice Class winners Philip and Ronnie Hunter made it to fourteenth overall. Mark Stewart had a day of mixed fortunes, eventually finishing seventeenth with Chris Hobson in the navigator’s seat. Norman Ferguson and Brendan Mooney rounded out the top twenty in their Peugeot 106.
Full results can be found here: ===> RESULTS
- M Mason / W Corry
- D Reid / W Reid
- S Woodside / M Faulkner
- M Francis / G Haydon
- T Ferguson / D Mooney
- S Cromie / T Gribben
- J Nolan / A Ryan
- M Woodside / A Blair
- M McDowell / R Dickson
- E Patterson / R Donaldson
- M Mason / W Corry (Micra)
- S Woodside / M Faulkner (MX5)
- J Nolan / A Ryan (Starlet)
- D Reid / W Reid (MX5)
- A Earney / R O’Boyle (Yaris)
- P Hunter / R Hunter (MX5)