IN THE SERVICE PARK JACK BENYON
STEVE BROWN GROUP NATIONAL EDITOR “Are there too many events and championships?”
Rallying in the family “Alan, my dad, owns Questmead. He’s done a bit of rallying but I’ve been into it since doing grasstrack racing when I was 12. I moved into rallying when I was 16. I did a year navigating and then, at 17, did the Junior Formula 1000. We did the Formula 1000 Tarmac series after that, in ’07 and ’08, then we went into the woods in ’09 and 2010 and then did odd events.”
He’s competed in Belgium “It’s something different. The money side is always a plus, but I’ve done Epynt, Otterburn, Isle of Man, a few in Ireland. I thought it was time to do something different and Belgium is ideal. The journey’s a long one but it’s worth it when people see the car out there, they love it out there.”
His Micra’s ‘different’ “It’s basically just a wide-arched kit car. It’s got a Peter Vaughan engine in who used to do work with Nissan, other than that it’s standard hubs, uprated suspension and bigger brakes. But it isn’t an ex-works car, it was built by Melvyn Evans for us. It’s a 1300cc with an Elite five-speed dogbox. It’s quite competitive taking that into account. When it’s wet and muddy we can make up a little bit.”
Is it a Mini? A Saxo? “People ask if it’s a Mini, a Saxo! Because there’s no badges on it, people over there are uncertain of what it is. People seeing it over there love it and that’s what we wanted: for it to be noticed.”
New rules next year “They’ve introduced a new rule in Belgium that the car has to be a minimum of 900kgs. The car homologated was 763kgs. We’d have to add 70 or 80kgs to our car, and still it’s only a 1300cc and we’re competing against 1600s. We’d be going to make numbers up. So we’re not sure what’s next.”
Giantkilling abroad “We had four events out there this year. The Flanders Rally Challenge that we’ve done is just for twowheel-drive cars and there’s times where we’ve been quickest. It’s been a developing year. Third in class in the championship isn’t bad, so the guy that won the class won the championship overall and he was in a three-litre BMW. That’s the class we’re in in our 1300 Micra! The rules are strange. There’s fourwheel drive, two-wheel drive and historic. We’re going to struggle to beat something like the BMW.”
Organiser: Killarney and District Motor Club When: December 2/3 Where: Killarney, Co Kerry Championships: 2017 Clonakilty Black pudding Irish Tarmac Championship, 2016 Plasticbags.ie Southern 4 Rally Championship, 2016 HRCR West Wales Rally Spares – Stage Masters Challenge Stages: 7 Starters: 120 (41 Historic)
Omagh’s Ryan Barrett, with Isle of Man resident Paul Mccann co-driving, took the overall Historic honours in his Ford Escort RS1800, pulling out a comfortable lead over the final stages.
Barrett admitted he was slightly distracted over the opening stage, Moll’s Gap, where Melvyn Evans – also in an Escort RS1800 – took fastest time.
Barrett wasn’t familiar with the Killarney stages, but he quickly settled in and, from stage two onwards, set the pace. He took the lead on stage four and as the day progressed so did his pace, so that as darkness settled over the Kerry countryside for the final stages he was over 20s per stage faster than Evans.
Barrett said: “It was a great event, we are over the moon with this result. A few people doubted me but it all went very well.”
With that the 39-year-old gave another whoop and yelled: “Italy here we come!”
The prize for winning the Historic is a free entry and transportation costs to compete on the Rally of the Legends, Italy’s biggest historic Motorsport event at San Marino.
Evans’ Escort did clip a bank on one stage, which cooled his ardour somewhat, and also a throttle cable issue towards the end didn’t help his cause. Owen Murphy drove his heart out in the ex-russell Brookes Sunbeam Lotus but a persistent misfire in the Lotus engine meant that Murphy, try as he might, couldn’t improve on third.
Gareth Lloyd had taken a rest from