RALLY REPORTS JENNINGS BEATS RIVALS AS MCGARRITY BOOSTS TITLE BID
Organiser: Newry and District Motor Club When: June 11 Where: Newry and Mourne Championship: Northern Ireland Stages: nine Starters: 77
Garry Jennings’ preparations for the Donegal International Rally could not have gone any better as he and co-driver Rory Kennedy recorded a comfortable victory on the Mourne Rally.
The pair ended the shortened rally almost three minutes clear of second-placed Derek Mcgarrity, with Damian Toner defying the odds in his rear-wheel-drive Ford Escort Mk2 to come home in third.
Last Saturday’s meeting was round four of the Northern Ireland Rally Championship and more or less mirrored the event from 2013 – the last time it took place on closed public roads.
With the route back then proving so popular with crews, rally organisers adopted an ‘If it isn’t broke why fix it?’ attitude, heralding the return of three classic stages – Black Hill, Deadman’s Hill and Ballydougherty.
However, stages one and three both had to be cancelled because of a lack of marshals meaning Jennings arrived at first service in his freshly rebuilt Subaru Impreza as the leader by 19.1 seconds.
It was their first outing in the car following a crash on the second day of the Killarney International. “We wanted to give the car a proper shakedown,” explained Kennedy. “We haven’t done this before – the Saturday before Donegal – but it allows us to do a systems check and to get back up to speed.”
Toner was second, with the Ford Escort of David Armstrong and Paul Mulholland a provisional third.
With minor tweaks to his car at service Jennings continued to turn up the wick, setting fastest times on stages four, five and six to put further daylight between himself and Toner. Mcgarrity, meanwhile in his refettled Ford Fiesta WRC, managed to leapfrog Armstrong, pushing him back to fourth place.
The weather remained largely fine and dry in the Newry and Newtownhamilton areas for the closing loop of tests, with Jennings highlighting his supremacy by making it a clean sweep of quickest times.
Mcgarrity, with stand-in navigator James O’reilly, consolidated second which was enough for him to score maximum points and boost the stopstart defence of his Northern Ireland Championship title. Having suffered overheating issues on the Sperrins Rally his car was back on song thanks to M-sport.
In the battle for third, Toner had enough in reserve to hold off Armstrong, the pair separated at the finish by 22s. Camillus Bradley was a mere 0.9 of a second in arrears of Armstrong.
Ford Escort duo Trevor and Glenn Wilson took home the spoils for two-litre cars in sixth, while Clive Kilpatrick and Conor Mcginnity (Mitsubishi Lancer) were clear Production Class winners in seventh position.
“We had a new gearbox fitted for the rally and it made such a difference,” said Kilpatrick at the end. “It was a great event, and to set fastest Group N times on our way to winning the class is fantastic.”
Kilpatrick was being chased hard by Simon Woodside up until stage seven when the latter rolled out.
The crew were deemed OK by John Mulholland after he stopped his Skoda Fabia S2000 to check on them.
If such an award existed, then drive of the Mourne Rally certainly would have been the property farmer Alastair Cochrane.
He put his Ford Escort MK2 off the road on the first timed test – Deadman’s Hill – and after getting back on the hard surface again and electing to take a stage maximum worked his way up from 68th to 20th overall.
An horrendously wet G&P Memorial Rally was won in convincing style by Tony Harrison/andy Pullan in a Proton Compact.
David Whitaker/terry Martin led initially, but they were then overhauled by the winners and soon afterwards withdrew when they missed a code board.
Harrison/ Pullan had built up a healthy lead over Paul Buckel/steven Butler (Proton Satria) by Petrol and maintained the advantage to the Finish.
At the end Buckel/butler fell behind Ade Green/ Ian Gibbins (Satria), who took fastest time on the last ‘dropper’ of the night. This made the results a Proton 1-2-3.
Allan Storer/tom Fenton were third at the halfway halt but retired in the second half due to a broken shaft. Top seeds Richard Hunter/gary Evans were also on the retirement list as they put their Ford Escort off the road just after Petrol.
Notably the Novice Class was won by Josh Townley/ Nick Townley, they finished in eighth place on what was the driver’s first rally. Results
Organiser: Garstang & Preston Motor Club Championships: ANCC & ANWCC
Ollie Chadwick came into Silverstone on a roll, having won six of the first eight Ginetta GT5 Challenge races, but he looked unlikely to add to that tally when a fuel pump fuse blew early in qualifying, stranding him without setting a time.
It meant Chadwick started 39th in the 40-car field, but he produced a stunning drive to salvage a podium.
Chadwick’s issues opened the door for Matt Chapman to take pole, and he led the group of Jonny and Ryan Hadfield and Matt Flowers. Chadwick managed to vault inside the top 15 within a single lap before a mid-race safety car period stunted his progress. Upon the restart Chapman couldn’t pull away, and the top five soon ran as one. Their squabbling allowed Chadwick to close in, and his cause was helped further when Chapman slipped down the order after a tangle at The Loop. Jonny Hadfield stole through to lead Flowers home, as Chadwick deposed Ryan Hadfield on the last lap for third.
With Chadwick near the front for the wet second race, the writing was on the wall. Chadwick was into the lead after pole-man Jonny Hadfield skated off at Maggotts and then never looked back. Jonny recovered for second ahead of Chapman.
Chadwick made it two from three after passing early leader Jack Minshaw in the tricky third event. Jac Constable completed the podium.
Mark Halstead and Stuart Mcpherson crushed their opposition by lapping the entire Innes Ireland Cup field in their Ginetta G4. The Lotus Twin-campowered G4 qualified 11.4s clear of the pack and lapped even quicker, with Halstead stretching out a lead in excess of one-minute by the time he stopped for Mcpherson. Martin Melling and Jason Minshaw led the chase in their Ford Falcon, beating Alex Thistlethwayte’s Mustang for second. Josh Sadler and Mark Henderson ran third before their Falcon was retired with overheating issues. Robi Bernberg won the 50s Sportscar element in fourth place.
Tom Black won the AMOC Intermarque after a close fight with Christopher Kemp. The two Vantage GT4 drivers each took a spell in front, with Kemp dominating the first half of the race before Black vaulted past after the mandatory stops. Kemp lost time with a mistake, but fought back to finish just 0.6s behind his rival at the flag.
Torrential rain afflicted the Volkswagen Racing Cup, as Phil House won the solo race after weather cancelled the second.
Despite the lack of visibility and continuing rain, Phil House made it two wins in as many rounds after holding off Bobby Thompson.
“It was a real struggle at the end of that,” added House.
Those struggles were enhanced by Thompson, who hounded the leading Scirocco throughout the entire race, but expert defending meant the Polo driver could only take second ahead of Toby Davis.
The Ginetta Racing Drivers’ Club was also hit by the weather, with a slow formation lap in the rain meaning there was only time for three laps.
Phil Ingram won the short sprint, but he had to work his way back into the lead after second-placed Richard Tetlow made the superior start.
Ingram returned to the front at Abbey, holding on to take victory in what is fast becoming a dominant season for the Ginetta man.