2009 Moonraker Rally Report

4 September 2009


It is hard to believe that five months have passed since the previous instalment in the Energia Navigation Rally championship, but the summer quickly passed and the crews gathered to do battle on our quiet country roads once again.


A field of twenty-seven cars met at Dungannon Rugby Club before tackling the 85 mile route. The start of the rally was just south of Dungannon, but the route then turned north, squeezed between Dungannon and Coalisland before heading north west in the direction of Pomeroy and coming back towards Parkanaur Forest and Castlecaulfield.


Championship leaders Leslie Young and Lewis Boyd led the field on a beautiful clear night with a stark bright moon lighting the way. Almost immediately, though, Young and Boyd were dropping time and they endured a fairly loose rally by their standards, dropping time on nearly every section to finish in 4th place on 20 marks.


Four crews made a good start, with two double champions, Eddie Murphy/Barry Taggart and Willie McKeown/Patrick McCollum completing the first four sections without dropping any time. Not far behind were the revelation of the year so far, Leslie and Gareth Hawe, on 2 marks. Also on 2 marks was another ex-champion, Neil Fletcher, who was reliving his glory days of successful Dungannon rallies, only this time with his daughter, Rebecca calling the route.


The next section included a short farm lane which caused some degree of bother for everyone. Unfortunately the Fletchers never visited it, and with that their fortunes took a turn for the worse, eventually ending up in 13th place. The Hawes found the lane ok, but they pulled off their exhaust in the process. They lost considerable time affecting a fix and even though they were back on the pace for the second half, the damage had been done and 6th place was their reward.


Of the two hitherto clean crews, both lost a minute by the time they had got to the control at the end of the lane. This turned out to be the only time that either of them dropped any time, so their final score was 1 apiece. They couldn't be split by who travelled further without penalty, so the rally was decided on engine capacity and on that score, the 1.4 litre Corsa of Murphy/Taggart beat the 1.6 litre Corsa of McKeown/McCollum.


Gary Sheridan and Lloyd Cochrane matched their best finish of the year with a 3rd place courtesy of a score of 18 marks. Ronnie and Aaron Mitchell had been 3rd for a good portion of the rally, but two poor final sections saw them drop to 5th in the final standings.


David and Kyle Preston are really dominating the Semi-Expert class this year and duly took their fourth win of the campaign. John and Jonathan Henderson took second, a position they have claimed for every one of the Prestons' wins. The final section was the Henderson's undoing, as they had been leading going in to that 9 mile blast. Similarly, William and David Howard took a long time to decipher the last section and dropped 20 marks to finish on 72 and claim 3rd place in class. Gary and Robert Milligan, on a final run out before Robert returns to university in England, missed a secret check on the second section and was on the back foot from there on. They ended up 4th in class. Ken McDonald and Rachel Muldoon were in a Peugeot 205 for this rally, their third different car of the year so far. On this occasion they missed a secret check just after the relaxed section which in part contributed to a final score of 91 marks.


It seems the way to win the Novice class is to minimise the effect of the one bad section during the night. Most of the class can get most sections clean, or very nearly clean, but the difference comes on that one section that goes wrong. If this only goes slightly wrong, then you have a good chance of winning the class. Raymond and Gareth Deazley won the class for the third time this year to extend their lead in the championship, but ask any of the next 6 crews who finished behind them and they can all report how the win was so nearly theirs if it hadn't been for...


Most Novice crews had real problems in that section with the farm lane. The Deazleys dropped only a scant 3 minutes while everyone else in the class picked up big penalties. Eleven marks behind the winners at the rally's end were Andrew Hughes and Neil Anderson, who dropped exactly 11 marks in that farm lane section. David Gibson and William Hamilton dropped 14 marks there, and finished 14 marks behind the winners! Richard Beattie and Ian Hawthorne, who rushed to the start of the rally from his new job in Leeds, dropped 34 marks here and finished only 24 behind the winners, so they were certainly annoyed about that one. Richard and Mark Hughes have moved up to this class from the Beginners and were really motoring, until the final section where they dropped from an excellent 3rd to a still creditable 5th in class.


The best of the Beginners were Philip Somerville and Russell Allen, who were the only crew in their class to find that pesky farm lane. They led home Declan and Peter Conlon and Jayne and Tom Boden.


In terms of the championship, both Murphy/Taggart and McKeown/McCollum were awarded 10 points each as in the event of an engine capacity resolution both crews are awarded the same points. McKeown/McCollum move to the top of the standings with 3 rallies to go, but they only have a 2 point margin over Young/Boyd with the Hawe's and Murphy/Taggart still well within striking distance.


Patrick McCollum




  1. Eddie Murphy/Barry Taggart (Expert, Vauxhall Corsa) 1 marks;
  2. Willie McKeown/Patrick McCollum (Expert, Vauxhall Corsa) 1;
  3. Gary Sheridan/Lloyd Cochrane (Expert, Proton Compact) 18;
  4. Leslie Young/Lewis Boyd (Expert, Vauxhall Vectra) 20;
  5. Ronnie Mitchell/Aaron Mitchell (Expert, Ford Sierra XR4x4) 41;
  6. Leslie Hawe/Gareth Hawe (Expert, Renault Clio) 47;
  7. David Preston/Kyle Preston (Semi-Expert, Citroën Saxo) 51;
  8. John Henderson/Jonathan Henderson (Semi-Expert, Nissan Micra) 67;
  9. William Howard/David Howard (Semi-Expert, Vauxhall Astra) 72;
  10. Gary Milligan/Robert Milligan (Semi-Expert, Renault Clio) 88;
  11. Ken McDonald/Rachel Muldoon (Semi-Expert, Peugeot 205) 91;
  12. Gerard Green/Michael McElwee (Semi-Expert, Vauxhall Corsa) 104;
  13. Neil Fletcher/Rebecca Fletcher (Semi-Expert, Escort Mexico) 148


  1. Raymond Deazley/Gareth Deazley (Vauxhall Corsa) 19;
  2. Andrew Hughes/Neil Anderson (Peugeot 306) 30;
  3. David Gibson/William Hamilton (Ford Focus) 33;
  4. Richard Beattie/Ian Hawthorne (Citroën Saxo) 43;
  5. Richard Hughes/Mark Hughes (Vauxhall Corsa) 51;
  6. Clive Latimer/David McElroy (Seat Ibiza) 57;
  7. Ian Johnston/Aaron Johnston (Nissan Micra) 60;
  8. Nigel Campbell/Colin Harkness (VW Golf) 85;
  9. Conor Kelly/Tony Kelly (Nissan Sunny) 87


  1. Philip Somerville/Russell Allen (VW Polo) 70;
  2. Declan Conlon/Peter Conlon (Vauxhall Nova) 84;
  3. Jayne Boden/Tom Boden (Ford Escort) 99;
  4. Brian Barr/Ruth Barr (Nissan Micra) 118
  5. Glyn Gaffney/Savannah Mellor (Toyota Celica) 347
Posted by PMcCollum on 7/9/2009; Last updated by PMcCollum on 7/9/2009