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Nov
7
  Irish Notes
by Brian & Liz Patterson

Kris Meeke was forced to retire from last weekend’s Condroz Rally in Belgium when his Skoda R5 suffered a blown engine. Stefane Lefebvre (Citroen C3 R5) took victory. The rally was marred by the death of a co-driver, Rik Vanlessen, when his driver Steve Matterne, crashed their Skoda R5.

Over in Yorkshire David Crossen/Aileen Kelly took their Escort to a class win and 11th o/a on the Malton Forest Rally. Charlie Payne took the overall win from Ollie Mellors. Matthew Robinson won the Historic class from Matt Edwards in a Fiat 131. Crossen reported that it was a great day through the Yorkshire stages, where he set some fastest 2wd times, but on two stages was slowed by a puncture, a spin and a stall.

Slightly further afield, Matt and Catherine Shinnors made it through the Shinsoro Rally Japan, final round of the Japanese National Rally Championship. Driving a hired ‘fun’ Toyota GT 86 they finished 50th o/a and 8th in the OP2 open class section. They were delighted to finish at all, which was really quite an achievement. Matt did say though that “Catherine did an excellent job on the notes and to understanding the different rules, never mind the language issue. It was a challenging one for sure, one of the most difficult rallies we have done.” The stages, just 40 miles from the home of Toyota, were tight and twisty asphalt in nature and the event was won by Toshai Arai, no stranger to Irish Rallying, in a Subaru. Also in faraway places Frank Cunningham/Ross Forde took an Escort to a remarkable 2nd place on the Empire State Rally in New York. Remarkable because the winner Patrick Brennan remarked on how slippy and tough it was even in his 4WD Lancer Evo 9. There were 140 miles of stages, over ‘dirt and clay’ roads, made all the more challenging with the tail end of Hurricane Willa.

Also last weekend, not rallying, but interesting, Michael Barrable and his two sons Robert and Peter won the six hour Fiesta Endurance Race at Mondello. This was quite a feat by former National Rally Champion Robert and the two boys, and could also mean that Robert has got over his knee injury and is ready to return to rallying next season.

With the rally season on a definite wind down now, one of the major events left is the Killarney Historic, and already interest is high for this classic. We understand for example that Seamus Burke is making the trip to compete in Killarney, with Martin Brady co-driving in a hired Mk2 Escort.

News from Motorsport Ireland is that there will be a change to some rally regulations from the start of 2019: for example the Class 20 regulations have been revamped so that homologated R5 and WRC cars cannot run in class 20, they must stay in the ‘homologation’ classes and therefore will not be able to run ’Plus Kits’ on current FIA homologated cars. There is also a proposal that right hand drive R5 cars will be able to run in National category events, this to be ratified by the MI Commission. There has been a restructuring of the Junior category, to make it more affordable and more of a level playing field, which is no bad thing. Quite often the devil is the detail, and the full information can be unearthed in the Motorsport Ireland website. Further news from Motorsport Ireland is that 23 year old Michael Hamilton from Co Clare has been nominated for the MI Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver Award. Michael, who rallies a Civic, has put up some stirring performances this year, particularly on the Sligo and Clare National rallies.

Looking rather further afield is Fermanagh’s Garry Jennings. He intends to contest the French Rallye La Rochelle in his Impreza WRC next week. Rory Kennedy will co-drive. The rally is not this weekend, but next. The Subaru was left in France after the last rally, so Garry is flying the mechanics out on Monday. He told us that the flights are cheap and he will fly in mid-week to do his recce. There will be 150km of stages, a bit of it Friday night and then all day Saturday into darkness again, and then a party into the wee small hours. Garry has competed on two events in France this season and won both of them, so this is the chance of a hat-trick. However he says he is just going for the craic and that they are made so welcome it is very special. That is more what it is all about. Looking ahead to next year, Garry said he wouldn’t mind doing Galway, but also maintains: “If it doesn’t work out, so be it.” He also reckons that the Tarmac organisers should definitely allow right hand drive R5s, as he feels that there are a few top drivers like him who are just not happy, not confident, in LHD, and so won’t touch it. If they were allowed RHD R5s the extra competition would just make all the difference to the rallies.

On a different topic, slowly but surely Christmas is creeping up on us. We know of one present which will surely be going on many people’s wish list: Alan ‘Plum’ Tyndall has produced a book about his exploits over the years. Plum, as he is so affectionately known, was the son of a Bishop and has led the most charmed life: in public relations through the Troubles, in motor racing and rallying, as a competitor, as a survivor: leading a full life doesn’t even come close. He has a wonderful turn of phrase and a knack of weaving a story which is remarkable and very entertaining. Plum was of course on first name terms, and indeed became a friend to all the top drivers over the years. We have seen some excerpts from the book, and it looks as if the finished product will be brilliant, very special and unique. He has been working at it for three years and it is due to be released next week, from the 17th. Hopefully we will have a copy ourselves by then. The book, title “Keep the Revs Up” is certainly not expensive, just £14.99 or Euro 17.00, plus P&P. The contact address is www.rpm-motorsport.com

Brian & Liz Patterson

 
 
 



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