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Great turnout for Stages Rally

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Great turnout for Stages Rally thumbnailCoagh driver Trevor Ferguson had to contend with a loss of power steering making the car very difficult to steer. He and co-driver Michael Laverty still made it round to sixth in class. Photo: A Hanna.

DESI Henry from Portglenone and co-driver Liam Moynihan from Cork ran out winners of the 2017 Tyrone Stages Rally.

The event was organised by Cookstown Motor Club and sponsored by McNulty Motors in Coalisland.

Driving a Skoda Fabia of the R5 variety, Henry and Moynihan finished 12.6 seconds ahead of the similar car of Marty McCormack from Maghera, with Barney Mitchell co-driving.

The event was based at the Loughry College Campus and competitors would tackle three special stages three times, run over closed roads, and located in the Stewartstown area.

First car away was Derek McGarrity and Noel O'Sullivan in an ex-Prodrive Subaru Impreza S14, but their rally would only last one test. An engine problem sidelined the car and they never had the chance to show the car's potential.

Pedar Hurson from Newry was quickest on the first test in his Ford Fiesta, with Cookstown's Philip Allen second in his Mini Cooper WRC, just 0.6 seconds behind. Henry and McCormick were right behind. By the end of the first loop Henry had moved ahead of Hurson with McCormack third, and Belfast's Jonny Greer in fourth.

One of the talking points of the rally was the performance of Cookstown's Philip Allen on his first closed road rally in the Mini WRC.

Son of the late Glenn Allen- the 2007 NI Rally Champion, Philip had Eugene Donnelly in the co-driver's seat and the pair were sensationally second fastest on the first stage.

A spin and stall on stage three cost them almost 20 seconds, but fourth place overall was a fabulous result, which won praise from his co-driver. "Philip did amazingly well today. He realised early on the importance of the pace-notes and he really listened. We wanted to finish, that was important but he did more much than just that." Philip Allen, sponsored by Brian and Kieran McCracken, BA Components and Derek McGeehan, McGeehan Motorsport, was cheered to the finish by his many local supporters and, of course, his grandmother, Vera Allen.

In the Classes, Donaghmore's Adrian Hetherington, co-driven by Ronan O'Neill from Moy, were trying hard to keep in touch with Armagh man Damien Toner, but after four stages the gap was 13 seconds and it was going to be tough to stay in touch. Adrian made it all the way to the middle of the third loop before having to retire while holding seventh place overall.

Eight crews were already missing as the second loop got under way. As well as top seed Derek McGarrity, it included Armagh's Marty Toner co-driven by Ballygawley's Raymond Knox, and Dungannon's Richard Somerville with John Nicholl navigating.

The second loop saw the arrival of the rain and the stages became very slippy, particularly as mud would be dragged out of the ditches on the corners as cars tied to cut in close. Some of the front runners escaped the worst of the rain on the loop, with most improving their times when compared with the first run.

At the end of the second loop, the overall order was being established. Desi Henry and Marty McCormack were running first and second in their Skodas, with Pedar Hurson third and Philip Allen fourth. This is the way it would stay until the finish. Rear wheel drive expert Damien Toner would be an incredible fifth in his Mk2 Escort, just ahead of the Subaru Impreza WRC of Kenny McKinstry.

In the end, Marty would just lose out to the charging McKinstry, but would still end up in a superb sixth place. Rally Sponsor Enda McNulty, from Coalisland, was another victim of the third loop and he headed home early after retiring his Ford Escort Mk2.

The event was a challenging one for Cookstown Motor Club with high numbers of spectators, and running two cars per minute over the stages. Nevertheless, only the very last stage saw a delay where notional times had to be given to 35 competitors. This is a popular, compact format, and it is great to see such an event in County Tyrone.

Round five of the McGrady Insurance series will see the crews switch to gravel for the traditional Lakeland Stages Rally, over the classic Fermanagh forest tests, run by the Enniskillen Motor Club.

The final round scheduled for the Down Forests has been cancelled due to issues of usage for key forests, so it's expected an announcement will be made soon whether the reserve event planned for the 4th November will round off the 2017 championship.

 

Results:

1st - Desi Henry / Liam Moynihan (-koda Fabia R5) 41:50.9

2nd - Marty McCormack / Barney Mitchell (-koda Fabia R5) +0:12.6

3rd - Peadar Hurson / Damien Connolly (Ford Fiesta WRC) +0:24.2

4th - Philip Allen / Eugene Donnelly (Mini Cooper WRC) +0:53.5

5th - Kenny McKinstry / Robbie Philpott (Subaru Impreza S14) +1:35.6

6th - Damian Toner / Denver Rafferty (Ford Escort MK2) +1:48.7

7th - Niall Devine / Kieran McGrath (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo) +2:51.3

8th - Donall Sweeney / Deane O'Sullivan (Ford Escort MK2) +2:51.6

9th - William Creighton / Liam Regan (Peugeot 208 R2) +3:05.8

10th - Callum Duffy / Iain Duffy (Ford Escort MK2) +3:09.3

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