Macdonald and Falconer survive last-stage drama to claim National rally
Despite being distracted by not being chosen as a driver to watch in last week’s Motorsport News, Scot Donnie Macdonald won the national rally, although he nearly threw it away on the final stage.
He and countryman Andrew Falconer were into the top 10 overall and had a huge lead in the national category, but Macdonald went the wrong way around a junction, had to spin round and was then caught behind another car.
He was over a minute ahead of Dan Harper in his fan-favourite modified BMW Mini heading into the final stage, and he needed every ounce of it to end up just over six seconds ahead. In fairness, Macdonald was only beaten on speed by the specialist R5 cars and was a joy to watch throughout the weekend.
Harper and co-driver Chris Campbell took maximum Manx Trophy championship points on the round, a double-header, with the Pokerstars Rally to decide that series in November.
Shaun Sinclair was an impressive third in his debut in a Mitsubishi Lancer E10. His usual Subaru S9 has been fettled for Mull in October.
Barry Groundwater managed fourth in his Lancer E10, with Manxman Will Heavey rounding out the top five.
An excellently organised Rali Mon was won by reigning Welsh champions Ian ‘Dude’ Roberts/gwawr Hughes; they completed the route dropping just one second. Local hot shots Tom Edwards/daniel Jones were on the winner’s tails throughout and finished four seconds behind.
The first time pairing of Mark ‘GT’ Roberts/ Ian Beaumond proved an effective partnership as they were in third at Petrol but unfortunately a failed wheel bearing stopped their Golf in the second half.
Top seeds Arwel ‘Sbidi’ Hughes-jones/dylan John Williams were clean of penalties until the fifth section. There they dropped 40 seconds after wrong slotting on the tricky beach road near Valley Airfield. They finished sixth.
After Dale Furniss’s lastminute withdrawal, Nick Bloxham jumped in to navigate for Russell Wooley and the pair finished in fourth place.
In a perfectly timed event the leading Semi-experts, Tim Hodgson/chris Evans, dropped just under four minutes, while the novice class winners, Mike Webber/neil Jones, were on six minutes.
BOSS Ireland was awarded the Leinster Trophy for 2016 and the class didn’t disappoint on its big day. UK visitor Hywel Lloyd started the Trophy race from pole in his Dallara F311 and when he beat the F1-engined Gould of Sylvie Mullins off the line, it seemed like game over for the rest as he eased away.
Lloyd hadn’t counted on an impressive charge from Paul Dagg though, the former Leinster Trophy winner closing in on the visitor in the final laps. Unfortunately an errant backmarker baulked Dagg on the final lap just as he was about to challenge. Cian Carey was a giant-killing third in his Formula Renault car.
Mullins beat poleman Lloyd off the line at the start of the second race, setting up a cracking race as Jonathan Fildes attacked both in his aging Ralt RT4, with Stephen Daly, and Dagg right there too. Lloyd eventually reasserted himself in the lead and pulled away to win as he pleased with Fildes just holding off the charging Dagg in a run to the line.
Brian Hearty got the jump on Formula Sheane poleman Mark Dunleavy to lead their first race away, and when Dunleavy retired with drive issues early on, was clear to take yet another win at the Kildare venue – and title number 11. Dave Parks was second with Kevin Sheane charging to third from mid-grid. In race two, Sheane climbed to the front to take the win with Anton Savage second and Parks in third.
Ginetta Junior Ireland racer Samuel Harron took full advangtage as his brother William over-defended the lead from Darragh Denning in the early laps, driving around the outside of both on his way to victory. William held off Denning for second at the end to make it a family 1-2, while a 10-second Denning penalty for a jump start elevated a delighted Cameron Fenton to third.
William dominated the second race, crossing the line over 20s ahead of Denning with Morgan Quinn in third.
Conor Farrell led the early stages of the first Global Lights GT race but was hauled in by Peter Drennan and just lost out on the run to the line. Mark Braden charged back to third after an early spin. In race two, Farrell and Drennan went at it again. When Farrell rotated and Drennan slowed, Michael Conway snatched the lead and hung on for the win, despite the recovering duo closing him down on the final lap.
Bill Griffin and Alan Watkins took turns at the front of the Irish Sportscars but Daniel Mccarthy drove superbly to displace both and lead over the line, with Watkins alongside. In race two, Watkins dominated with Mccarthy pipping Griffin to second after a race-long fight.
Darragh Mcmullen drove superbly to take the Procraft Tools Fiesta Zetec race one honours despite the best efforts of Mark O’donoghue, who shadowed the winner over the line. In the second race, O’donoghue claimed his maiden win, just, from Darren Lawler, with a delighted Mark Johnston in third.
Paula Moore looked set for a Formula Vee B win, but Gavin Buckley snatched it away on the final tour. Dan Polley won the final as he pleased and in doing so, clinched the title too. In race two Polley lost the lead to Kevin Grogan on a number of occasions but fought back to win, with Colm Blackburn challenging Grogan on the final lap for second.
Richie Kearney led the Future Classics for the duration in the glorious sounding V6 Alfa Romeo 155, a mid-race safety car period his only concern. Robbie Parks charged to second from the back, with Adrian Dunne completing the podium. Second time round, poleman Ger Byrne made no mistakes to win, with Timmy Duggan charging to second from the back of the grid.
Erik Holstein spun out of the SEAT Supercup lead but a red flag gave him the win – and the title – on countback, from Rob Butler and Rod Mcgovern. In race two Niall Quinn led but Mcgovern snatched the lead and eased away for the win. When Jonathan Fildes and Butler collided at Mobil Corner on the final lap, John Farrelly inherited third.
Martin Duffy took his first Irish Touring Car Championship win, his M3 well clear of Shane Rabbitt and Rob Savage whilst John Mcgovern claimed his first Production class win. In race two, Rabbitt dominated, his Mazda RX-7 crossing the line well clear of early leader Keith Campbell, with Jay O’reilly claiming Production honours ahead of Pa Hudson.
Ulick Burke drove superbly to take his third consecutive Fiesta ST win, with Sean Lillis in second and John Denning third. Poleman Brendan Fitzgerald was sent to the back of the grid having failed to go to parc ferme after qualifying but charged to fourth at the line. In race two, Dave Maguire won as he pleased with John Denning in second and Kevin Doran third, despite a pair of lurid spins.
Peter Barrable won the Tool Dynamics Supercar race despite a race-long challenge from Sam Moffett. Andy O’brien relieved Moffett of second spot on the final lap with a superb move at Lola corner. In race two, O’brien got the jump, Barrable closed him down but retired mid-race whilst Moffett’s laterace charge just failed to relieve O’brien of the win, and the title.
To finish off the meeting, with conditions improved somewhat, Dan Daly took to the track for some demonstration laps at the wheel of his ex-rubens Barrichello Jordan 193, to the delight of the large crowd.
Macdonald was in the top 10 overall
Tom Cave took second in BRC
Lloyd raced to Leinster double
Duffy clinched first touring success
Drennan prevailed in close Lights race