2009 Orchard Rally Report

16 October 2009

Leslie Young and Lewis Boyd kept their championship hopes alive with victory in the Orchard Rally. As they were 8 points down on the leaders at the top of the championship table going into this penultimate round of the series, there was only one result that was going to keep them in the fight and they duly delivered in an emphatic style.


This year's Orchard rally had an 81 mile route that started and finished in Loughgall and comprised two loops in the Loughgall/Richhill/Armagh/Hamiltonsbawn region.


The cars were led away by last year's winners, Gary Sheridan and Lloyd Cochrane in their Proton. By the time the competitors had reached the half way halt it was championship leaders Willie McKeown and Patrick McCollum who had taken a fortuitous lead. They had incorrectly plotted a section, but there wasn't a control to catch them out, so they stopped at the break on 5 marks, with Leslie and Gareth Hawe just behind on 6, Sheridan/Cochrane on 7, Young and Boyd in fourth place on 9 and John and Jonathan Henderson keeping a watching brief on the leaders on 12 marks.


A similar format continued in the second half with short sections and really tight classic Armagh roads and as the crews got nearer the finish the instructions were just tweaked a notch in the direction of difficult. Things really happened in the last three sections. As the cars entered this point, the leaders were still McKeown/McCollum on 8 marks. Their nearest challengers were now Young/Boyd who had only dropped 14. The Hendersons were enjoying their home run as they were now on 17, with the Hawes on 18 and Sheridan/Cochrane now having fallen back to fifth place on 24.


This was all to change as McKeown/McCollum took a loop they weren't meant to and as they returned to the correct route, not only were they down on time but they picked up a 15 for a wrong approach. Suddenly Young/Boyd had risen to the top of the standings and only had to hold their nerve for the final two sections.


Everyone got through the penultimate section safely, but the final section had another twist. It was only 3.5 miles long and the route was obviously going to use the narrow roads between its two controls. Eddie Murphy and Barry Taggart, who had set the route, certainly weren't going to send the crews down the main A3 to a roundabout, were they? Yes they were! McKeown/McCollum were already well down the obvious yellow road before they spotted this and turned. At the end of the road, they met Young/Boyd who had plotted the route towards the roundabout but could scarcely believe it and were checking and re-checking. Gary Sheridan and Lloyd Cochrane, who passed his own front door on this section got a real flier here and only dropped 1 minute, which was a feat matched by the Hendersons who were on a mighty run. Young/Boyd dropped just 3 in this section to top a fantastic run over the final three sections and secure that vital win. The Hendersons great form was richly rewarded with a second place finish, their highest ever finish on a championship event. Third were the Hawe cousins who finished on 34, just ahead of Sheridan/Cochrane on 35 and McKeown/McCollum, who went wrong yet again after the roundabout, finished on 38 in fifth place.


The Henderson's obviously won the Semi-Expert Class, with David and Kyle Preston finishing on 65 marks and Ken McDonald and Rachel Muldoon in 3rd. The two Loughgall father and son crews (Hendersons and Prestons) have fought tooth and nail throughout the whole season and have claimed the top two spots in the class in all rallies bar one so far. It is simply a case of whoever comes out top in the Firecracker will win the class championship.


In the battle for honours amongst the Novice Crews, there was only ever going to be one winner. Andrew Hughes and Neil Anderson were head and shoulders above all over crews with a mighty impressive run to the class win. They only dropped a miserly 3 marks during the night which leaves them favourites to win the class title for the year. Their main opposition, Raymond and Gareth Deazley, can still win the title, but if Hughes and Anderson finish in the top 4 in the Firecracker, then the title is theirs. The Deazleys finished in 3rd place on this rally, which was behind an excellent result for Richard Swanston and Karen Fisher. On their first rally in two and half years, they stormed to a 2nd place finish in class and most of their time loss was in the first two sections, which is understandable after such a long time since their last outing. But from that point, at which time they were down in 8th place in class, they blitzed the rest of rally and claimed their second placed prize.


Philip and Kyle Sommerville came out top in the Beginner class ahead of the ever enthusiastic Jonny Charlesson and Stephen Wishart, who were making a rare outing in this championship in a hardly ideal Audi A6 Avant. But then they were never ones for taking a conventional approach to competing.


The overall championship now goes down to a last round decider in the UAC's Firecracker Rally for the first time since 2004. It is a straight battle between Leslie Young/Lewis Boyd and Willie McKeown/Patrick McCollum. Basically it is a case of winner takes all. Game on.


Patrick McCollum



  1. Leslie Young/Lewis Boyd (Expert, Vauxhall Vectra) 21 marks
  2. John Henderson/Jonathan Henderson (Semi-Expert, Nissan Micra) 28 marks
  3. Leslie Hawe/Gareth Hawe (Expert, Renault Clio) 34 marks
  4. Gary Sheridan/Lloyd Cochrane (Expert, Proton Compact) 35 marks
  5. Willie McKeown/Patrick McCollum (Expert, Vauxhall Corsa) 38 marks
  6. David Preston/Kyle Preston (Semi-Expert, Citroën Saxo) 65 marks
  7. Kenneth McDonald/Rachel Muldoon (Semi-Expert, Peugeot 205) 197 marks
  8. DNF Clifford Auld/John Lindsay (Expert, Fiat Tipo) DNF
  9. DNF Neil Fletcher/Rebecca Fletcher (Semi-Expert, Escort Mexico) DNF


  1. Leslie Young/Lewis Boyd (Vauxhall Vectra) 21 marks
  2. Leslie Hawe/Gareth Hawe (Renault Clio) 34 marks
  3. Gary Sheridan/Lloyd Cochrane (Proton Compact) 35 marks
  4. Willie McKeown/Patrick McCollum (Vauxhall Corsa) 38 marks
  5. DNF Clifford Auld/John Lindsay (Fiat Tipo) DNF


  1. John Henderson/Jonathan Henderson (Nissan Micra) 28 marks
  2. David Preston/Kyle Preston (Citroën Saxo) 65 marks
  3. Kenneth McDonald/Rachel Muldoon (Peugeot 205) 197 marks
  4. DNF Neil Fletcher/Rebecca Fletcher (Escort Mexico) DNF


  1. Andrew Hughes/Neil Anderson (Peugeot 306) 3 marks
  2. Richard Swanston/Karen Fisher (Peugeot 106) 16 marks
  3. Raymond Deazley/Gareth Deazley (Vauxhall Corsa) 17 marks
  4. Richard Hughes/Mark Hughes (Vauxhall Corsa) 21 marks
  5. Clive Latimer/David McElroy (Seat Ibiza) 24 marks
  6. James Wood/Ciaran Carey (Peugeot 106) 62 marks
  7. Nigel Campbell/Colin Harkness (Volkswagen Golf) 63 marks
  8. Barry Gilpin/Denis Morton (Rover 400) 122 marks
  9. Ian Johnston/Aaron Johnston (Nissan Micra) 135 marks
  10. James Nichol/Neil Ervine (Vauxhall Vectra) 139 marks


  1. Philip Sommerville/Kyle Sommerville (Volkswagen Polo) 53 marks
  2. Jonathan Charlesson/Stephen Wishart (Audi A6) 66 marks
  3. Brian Black/Gerry Bucklet (Citreon C2) 163 marks
  4. David Aiken/William Callaghan (Mini 1) 321 marks
Posted by PMcCollum on 28/10/2009; Last updated by PMcCollum on 28/10/2009