2002 Firecracker Rally Report

8 November 2002

The year ended just as it had begun. Ed Murphy and Barry Taggart won the first round of the championship, and it was a lead they were never to surrender. Winning the Ulster Automobile Club's Firecracker Rally gave the North Armagh crew their 3rd win of the year and the title of Northern Ireland Navigation Rally Champions 2002. After being at the top of the sport for 10 years, it was Ed's first title, and Barry's second after winning in 1995.

Breaking with tradition, this event was not based in the Abbey Lodge, but had moved to Castlewellan, and used the familiar roads around Slieve Croob, including the famous Hamilton's Folly stage.

A disputed clock stopped 4 crews from cleaning the shortened, 55 mile, event. Murphy/Taggart were the only crew to adjust their timing to the given time, and only incurred 3 penalties in doing so. The next three crews home were all on 4 penalties. David Erwin and Alan Dorman took 2nd place in their Renault Clio using the lowest engine capacity tie break rule. This result gave Alan the Class 2 (Semi-Expert) win on the night and the Class 2 win in the Championship. It was the second time that Alan was runner up this year, and it can't be too long before he achieves his first overall victory. Paul Biggerstaff and William Brown took 3rd, in what was William's first navigation event since 1999. Leslie Young and Lewis Boyd, having a 2 litre engine in their Sierra, were placed 4th overall.

Only one penalty behind them were Trevor and Ricky Reid. In a very strong showing, they took 2nd in Class 2 with only 5 minutes penalties. In another tie, Robbie McClean and Richard Hicks took 6th place ahead of the Mini of Willie McKeown and Patrick McCollum due to the further clean rule.

In 8th place, but still only on 17 penalties, were John Henderson and Lloyd Cochrane. It is not unusual for this crew to turn up later than most for a rally, but on this occasion, by the time they had arrived at the start venue, 5 cars had already left TCA! This unsettling start caused a few penalties early on and their cause was not helped as they did not have time to set their trip to the organiser's mile. Their car also stopped on the road for a while and refused to start. With a push, they got it going, and only lost minimal time. But unfortunately, on an event as low scoring as this, any penalties picked up would reflect in a bad finishing position.

Class 3 was an open fight without the dominating force of Stephen Wishart and Jonathon Charlesson to contend with. They already had the class championship sown up, and so Jonathon was spared the long trip from Essex. Clifford Auld and John Lindsay made the best of the opportunity granted them with a class winning performance, finishing on 5 penalties. Paul Gray and Jim Smith took second, by picking up a few stray penalties at early intermediate checks.

James Woods had his best run yet as a navigator, getting third place on 10 penalties, with Chris Ragg driving in their Mini. This was just ahead of his old car and old navigator, as Mark Cromie and Gareth Jackson took 4th on 11 penalties.

The rest of Class 3 all missed a secret check between TCC and TCD, with Roy Allen and Maurice Cresswell finished in 5th. The Milligan clan did not have as successful a night as on previous occasions with John McCay and Vicki Milligan just finishing ahead of Gary and Robert Milligan in 7th.

In the non-championship rally, James and Rachael Wilson took Class 4 on 42 penalties, just ahead of Raymond Kelly/Colin McDowell in an MG Midget on 43 penalties, which had included a 30 minute penalty for missing that control just after TCC. Pat and Conal McCartan won Class 5.

Patrick McCollum



  1. Ed Murphy Barry Taggart Vauxhall Nova Class 1 3 minutes
  2. David Erwin Alan Dorman Renault Clio Class 2 4 minutes
  3. Paul Biggerstaff William Brown Vauxhall Astra Class 1 4 minutes
  4. Leslie Young Lewis Boyd Ford Sierra Class 1 4 minutes
  5. Trevor Reid Ricky Reid Ford Escort Class 2 5 minutes
  6. Robbie McClean Richard Hicks Toyota Corolla Class 1 13 minutes
  7. Willie McKeown Patrick McCollum Mini Class 1 13 minutes
  8. John Henderson Lloyd Cochrane Talbot Sunbeam Class 1 17 minutes

Class 3

  1. Clifford Auld John Lindsay Triumph 2.5Pi 5 minutes
  2. Paul Gray Jim Smith Ford Escort 7 minutes
  3. Chris Ragg James Woods Mini 10 minutes
  4. Mark Cromie Gareth Jackson Vauxhall Nova 11 minutes
  5. Roy Allen Maurice Cresswell Vauxhall Corsa 47 minutes
  6. John McCay Vicki Milligan Peugeot 405 49 minutes
  7. Gary Milligan Robert Milligan Citroen Saxo 52 minutes

Class 4

  1. James Wilson Rachael Wilson Ford Sierra 42 minutes
  2. Raymond Kelly Colin McDowell MG Midget 43 minutes
  3. Joe Gamble Jim Wilson Triumph Stag 64 minutes
  4. Shane Sloan Darryl Rogan Mini 71 minutes
  5. Aubrey Patterson Maurice Eakin MGA 110 minutes

Class 5

  1. Pat McCartan Conal McCartan Ford Sierra 44 minutes
  2. Fred Kelly Ann Taggart Mini Cooper S 152 minutes
  3. Stephen Potts MG Midget 167 minutes
Posted by PMcCollum on 14/2/2010; Last updated by PMcCollum on 14/2/2010