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by Brian & Liz Patterson

There were many memorable moments on last weekend’s Joule Donegal International Rally. Just some of the feats of derring-do that stand out include: The performance of Manus Kelly/Donall Barrett in scoring their hat trick of wins. In his Mk2 Escort Manus was a good driver. Since he switched to the Subaru he has been truly outstanding. This was a performance of true excellence. Some of the best current world rally car drivers in Ireland did their utmost to unsettle the Letterkenny man, but it was themselves they ruffled, mostly ending up in unforgiving ditches. Sam and Josh Moffett put on great drives in their respective R5s to capture the lion’s share of the Tarmac Championship points. Defending Tarmac Champion Sam now leads this year’s point tally with 57 as against Josh on 56 and next up Rob Barrable with 41.

Two Billy Coleman Award winners, Rob Duggan and Callum Devine were unbelievably sharp on their maiden R5 Tarmac outings, finishing 4th & 5th respectively. Duggan in particular opened a few eyes in the early tough, wet and windy conditions. Eugene Donnelly at last got up to speed in the Hyundai R5, which was somewhat of a relief. Local man Aidan Wray made GpN his own and Cork’s Stephen Carey once again showed his undoubted talent with a giant killing run in his Fiesta R2 to dominate the small homologated category.

There was a great battle in the Junior category with Jason Black just edging Jordan Hone at the finish. Another big surprise, although maybe not a surprise, was the performance of Joule man Ian Barrett and his co-driver Paul McGee in winning the hotly contested National category from fellow Darrian exponent Kevin Gallagher. Kevin was on his home turf and, with Noel O’Sullivan co-driving, pushed Barrett all the way, but Ian was not to be deprived of the victory laurels. We wrote ‘surprise’ earlier because, really, the National category is so hotly disputed that Ian, who only competes on the occasional rally, wasn’t considered one of the favourites. It was thought beforehand as well that the category would be another Mk2 benefit. That wasn’t to be. Gary Kiernan was best Escort pilot and finished in 3rd place. The Historic category was won by another fine driver, Martin Doherty, and he was in an Escort. The ever enthusiastic Andy Johnson in his Chevette HSR was runner up. All were Donegal heroes!

There were many more of course. And that is not counting the organisers of this gigantic event. CoC Eamonn McGee heads the team. He is a remarkable man in his own right. If he had been born in Vladivostock or some such place, he would perhaps have made a great stone walling Russian diplomat. Such are the qualities required to carry this event through! Seriously, Eamonn and his team did a magnificent job.

Looking forward to this weekend, we will have rally action in Waterford as well as Belgium. For the Carrick-on-Suir MC, it is the turn of the Ravens Rock Rally. The competitors there will have the opportunity to drive some truly beautiful stages. Top entries include Andrew Purcell and Daniel Cronin both in Fiesta R5’s. Both drivers are in pretty good form at the moment and should be the pacesetters, though John Dalton and Mark Straker head the Darrian drivers and the stages will suit both teams. Quite a few crews are making the trip over from the UK including Sacha Kakad (Fiesta R5+) and Martin/Dawn England in their similar machine.

In Belgium, on the Ypres Rally, the name of the game is gaining British Championship points, while for Sam Moffett Celtic Trophy kudos are the goal. It will be quite a change for Monaghan man Sam, adapting to the super smooth farm roads around Ypres town, following the bumps, jumps and rough asphalt of Donegal. In fact it will be a change for all the drivers from here. It is such a treat of a rally though with a unique and brilliant atmosphere. Four times British Champion Keith Cronin, co-driven by Mikie Galvin as usual in his Hyundai R5, is our top seed, and starts at number 3. Bryan Bouffier in a Skoda R5 heads the list, which also includes WRC star Thierry Neuville. Belgian man Thierry is driving a new Hyundai i20 R5 and it is very possible that pride will see him in a win it or bin it mode!

Also making the trip from here is Marty McCormack/David Moynihan in Marty’s Fabia R5. Cushendall’s John Rowan is co-driving for Scottish Champion David Bogie (Skoda) and they could also be in line for a top result. Top UK contenders also include the rapidly improving Rhys Yates (Skoda) as well as M-Sport team entry Matt Edwards, in his Swift backed Fiesta R5.

In the hotly contested Junior category we are well represented and have six (wow) crews travelling to Belgium – William Creighton/Liam Regan (Peugeot 208 R2), Marty Gallagher/Rachel McConnell (Peugeot 208 R2), Josh McErlean/Aaron Johnston (Fiesta R2),Kevin Horgan/Liam Fouhy (Fabia R2) Johnnie Mulholland/Jeff Case (Fiesta R2) and Keady’s James Wilson, with Gavin Doherty co-driving in his Peugeot 208 R2. Should be interesting!

You may have read in a recent Irish Notes that Omagh’s Paul Barrett was stopped in his tracks on the Carlisle Stages Rally when his BDA caught fire. Paul had to attend hospital afterwards for burns treatment to his hand. He has since told us that if it wasn’t for the help of the marshals as well as other competitors he would have lost the car to the conflagration. This may well also have put his rallying up in flames. He has since, with the help of his friends, been working flat out to repair the Escort. He hopes to make the start line of the next British Historic round, this weekend’s Red Kite. Paul, who has been co-driven by Dai Roberts so far this season, will have Will Rogers on the notes this weekend. Paul has put up some brilliant performances in the series, winning the Pirelli counter in great style. However the competition in the series is nearly as hot as his BDA engine achieved in Carlisle, and success won’t come easy. His brother Ryan, who is no mean driver either, is also competing on the Red Kite, as well as another Omagh man, Ken Graham. Ryan also drives an Escort, Graham an Avenger. Number 1 seed on the rally is former Ulster Rally winner Osian Pryce, who will also be an Escort. Paul led the Fuchs MSA British series after two rounds, but his non-finish on the Carlisle Stages has meant Stuart Egglestone taking over the mantle of series leader.


2018 Patterson Agencies

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