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by Brian & Liz Patterson

Portglenone’s Desi Henry scored an impressive start to finish win on last weekend’s Tour of the Sperrins, round 2 of the McGrady Insurance NI Championship. Co-driven by Liam Moynihan, neither Desi nor his Skoda Fabia R5 missed a beat. When we asked runner up Garry Jennings if he was surprised at the speed of the R5 compared to his own Subaru Impreza WRC, Garry replied in the negative, that it was what he expected. Fermanagh man Garry explained, “I saw how Desi went on the Lakes the weekend before, particularly towards the end, and it was very impressive, so he was sharp from the off.” Garry of course hadn’t done a full rally since last year’s Donegal. He had made an outing in Birr, but that was only for a couple of stages when the ECU of his Subaru gave problems. There was an emergency re-fettling to his Subaru for this Sperrins, as Garry really wanted to make the trip for the sake of his sponsor ‘Go Petroleum’ and their director Michael Moran.

Garry continued by saying “On the day, I was happy with my own pace. It was a good event, nice weather, and the stages put me in the notion for rallying again. There were new seats in my car, a slightly different driving position, and although Michael Moran did a great job co-driving, it is still not the same as having someone like Rory sitting in.” The wonder of it is how well Garry did go. Just one more concern is that his wife Kerry is in hospital and we wish her a speedy and full recovery. Garry went on to say. “You have to do something to let your hair down, though God knows that doesn’t take much for me – I really need a haircut! Seriously, I’ll probably do Cavan and maybe one more, before Donegal.” He didn’t mention his stage 4 spin which cost quite a few seconds and left him just out of touch with the lead, but still comfortably ahead of Derek McGarrity’s Subaru, suffering as it was with too soft a compound tyres. Ryan Loughran, David Bogie and Paddy McVeigh made up the remainder of the top six. Amy Cox in her Skoda Fabia S2000 was a very creditable 7th overall. Some of the top drivers who didn’t make it through, for various reasons, included Alan Carmichael, Philip Allen, Alan Smyth, Barry Morris and Marty McCormack.

Meanwhile in Fermanagh at St Angelo last week, Derek McGeehan took victory on the Enniskillen Club’s popular May Day Stages Rally. Damian Toner in his Escort led initially and eventually finished 2nd, with Alan Smyth (Lancer) 3rd. Derek McGeehan had his 15 year old son Mark co-driving for the first time. Derek has been developing a more powerful engine for the Mini LHD, and has been working on it for 18 months, and this was its first outing. When he got back to his Draperstown commercial vehicle and rally preparation garage, Derek told us, “I was wee bit slow to start, the chicanes were very tight, and I didn’t want to damage the car. This was the LHD one that Joe McGonigle usually drives and he is using it on the Cavan Rally next week (Joe missed the Sperrins as he was unwell). Once we got going at St Angelo, although I was only there for the spin, we had a good run.” The rally was also a round of the Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland and last year’s Junior Champion Sam Adams took the win in his Skoda Citigo. This earned Adams the £150 NCSA first prize. Marcus McElwee was 2nd on the day but leads the Championship after this 3rd round.

Looking forward to this weekend the always popular Carlow Rally takes place on Sunday, while the WRC gets back into gear with Rally Portugal. The Carlow event is a mini stage only and as such, has attracted a great entry with many of the top Escort crews and cars in the line up. The rally has a great route and also in a way has been tailored for the over twenty Welsh crews to allow them to get home on the Sunday evening if they so wish. Well over 100 crews have entered.

For Rally Portugal, the Citroen team is represented by Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle and Craig Breen/Scott Martin and hopes are high that they can give a good account against the might of M-Sport Ford, Hyundai and Toyota. However, the competition, the speed and pace, seem to get ever more fearsome with every event at the moment. It was never easy to make an impression at this level, and it is getting ever more difficult, as even WRC Champion Sebastien Ogier is finding out. If a driver blinks at all, he’s missed out! Making the trip from here also is Callum Devine, (Fiesta 2T), again co-driven by Brian Hoy in the WRC Juniors.

News announcements this week included the Ulster Rally returning to Antrim for their 17th/18th Aug Ulster Rally. The event will again be sponsored by John Mulholland Motors. Following an 8 year absence Rally Turkey will again be a round of the WRC and takes place over the weekend of September 13-16th. The next round of the Valvoline Irish National Forest Rally Championship is now being mooted as a two day double header on 28th/29th July, organised by Cork Motor Club. The next round of the Triton Showers National Championship is the Cavan Club’s Stages Rally on the 26th/27th May. The CoC Stephen Kellett has organised brilliant stages, which will be a real test for man and machine. Even the shakedown stage is a cracker!


2018 Patterson Agencies

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