MCVEIGH AND MCELHINNEY SEE OFF TONER’S RAPID ESCORT
Sligo produces another dramatic event with a punishing route
Organiser: Connacht Motor Club When: July10 Where: Sligo Championship: Sligo Pallets Border Rally Championship Stages: 9 Starters: 92
Paddy Mcveigh from County Tyrone hasn’t rallied his Subaru for many months but, co-driven this time by Gary Mcelhinney, he scored a significant victory on this Sligo Stages event, adding his name to a distinguished list over the years.
Damian Toner finished second and best two-wheel-drive in his Ford Escort, co-driven by Denver Rafferty. Usa-based Enda Mccormack, co-driven by Colin Fitzgerald, made the trip worthwhile by taking third overall in a Subaru Impreza WRC S10.
The rally is on an ‘opt out’ year from the Triton Showers National Championship, and the entries were slow initially, but eventually over 90 were received and it was a strong top 10 that headed out from the Sligo Park Hotel. In the offing; three stages repeated three times South of the town. Clerk of the course Joe Corcorran had opted to return to stages which haven’t been used for a quite a few years.
Unfortunately the weather wasn’t kind, and the winner Mcveigh summed things up afterwards when he said: “The first stage especially was very treacherous, like glass, and I didn’t stick my neck out. We just did what we had to do. All the stages were difficult, and stage three, Ladies Brae, one wheel wrong over the blind crests would have been an accident.”
Frank Wray was the early leader in his Subaru, but his Impreza got stuck in second gear and he was forced to call it a day. Mccormack then led but Mcveigh decided to have one real push in stage four and his time was very dominant, enough to give him a decent buffer for the second half of the event.
There were several drivers expected to challenge for the lead, but misfortune struck many of them.
Gary Mcphillips’ Escort had an excursion into the scenery, got going but then the engine let go, possibly because of a squashed oil or water pipe. Gary Kieran retired when his engine gave trouble. Stephen Wright in his Ford Fiesta R5 was another caught out in the first stage. He managed to get going but took a stage maximum and was well down the order for the rest of the event.
The most serious incident was when multiple Tarmac champion co-driver Paul Kiely crashed his Lancer into a wall on a tightening left hander on shiny asphalt about one-mile into the opening stage. Kiely was being co-driven by Eugene Donnelly and both were hospitalised. The news was that neither received life-threatening injuries.
One driver who really kept his nose clean and put on a fabulous display was Toner, best Ford Escort Mk2 man on last week’s Lurgan Park Rally and only 4s behind the Paddy Mcveigh Subaru at the end. There was a plethora of four-wheel-drive machinery behind him. Cathan Mccourt/brian Hoy had a good battle in Group N to take the spoils.
Declan Boyle’s son Michael, with Dermot Mccafferty co-driving in their Honda Civic, had a very clear win in the Juniors.