2004 Dawnbreaker Rally Report

12 November 2004

Phil and Alan Dorman showed that they deserved the title of Northern Ireland champions when they stormed to victory in the 2004 Hi-Q Modern Tyres Dawnbreaker Rally. Second place went to the North of England pairing of Michael Monaghan/Iain Tullie and third were Mike Biss/Cath Woodman from Bedfordshire. This event was not part of the Northern Ireland championship, but was the 2004 Inter-Association Navigation Rally challenge. The Northern Ireland team used their home advantage to claim the cup and beat the challenge of the four visiting associations.


The annual Inter-Association Challenge was first held in 1989. The event tours the various regions of the UK on a 6-year cycle, and teams of three crews representing their local MSA Regional Association vie for the title. The 2004 Dawnbreaker was the third time the event has been held in Northern Ireland.


Whereas a normal NI championship round is approximately 80 miles and runs from 9pm to just after midnight, the Dawnbreaker route was 155 competitive miles, and started from the Armagh City Hotel just before 11pm, with the first car returning to rally HQ at 6:30am, just as it was starting to get light.


Thirty-seven cars lined up at the start of the event, with 11 crews having made the trip across from Britain, representing the Associations of East of Scotland, Northern, Central Southern and London Counties. The weather on the night could not have been better. It was dry overhead, and there was no frost despite it being very cold.




The rally's first quarter headed north-east out of Armagh, around the villages of Richhill and Loughgall, and ended with competitive relaxed section near the Moy.


The early leaders were Rob and Graham Dance from Dorset, who had no problems acclimatising to the unique style of regularity that Northern Irish navigation rallies use. They led in their Alfa Romeo Sprint until they were slowed by a map trace section, and the time lost here dropped them to 2nd by the first halt. This let Phil and Alan Dorman, running car no.1, to take over the lead. Equal second at this stage were Gary Sheridan/Lloyd Cochrane (Vauxhall Nova), but they were complaining about the car being very difficult to navigate in due to the rear suspension being overly stiff. Michael Monaghan/Iain Tullie were improving as they settled into the rally, and running almost clean for the last 3 sections before the break saw them hold an equal 4th place on 14 marks. Tied with them were the Scottish crew of Monty Pearson/Ewan Leeming, who had the least problem of any crew navigating their way through the private farm lane and down the side of the farmhouse on the first section.


In the Novice class, James Woods/Chris Ragg led in their Peugeot 205 from John and Jonathan Henderson, who were in familiar territory as they are from Loughgall.


Positions after TC7:


  1. Phil Dorman/Alan Dorman 4 marks
  2. Rob Dance/Graham Dance 10 marks
  3. = Gary Sheridan/Lloyd Cochrane 10 marks
  4. Michael Monaghan/Iain Tullie 14 marks
  5. = Monty Pearson/Ewan Leeming 14 marks
  6. Chin/Matthew Fowle 15 marks
  7. Mike Biss/Cath Woodman 16 marks
  8. Euan Brodie/Oly McCollum 22 marks
  9. Andy Coshan/Ben Greenfield 31 marks
  10. Stephen Wishart/Jonathan Charlesson 48 marks




In the second quarter, the sections became shorter, and the pace increased, as the roads were now quite tight. The route headed towards Navan Fort, before turning north again in the direction of Benburb, then following the River Blackwater and finally turning towards Armagh city for a one hour break and a chance to refuel both cars and competitors alike.


The Dorman's cemented their lead in this quarter, by only picking up 3 marks, while Michael Monaghan/Iain Tullie managed to haul their big Sierra estate around the little country lanes very impressively to climb up to 2nd by the petrol halt, albeit 13 marks behind the Dorman brothers. Pearson/Leeming were not going to let the Northern English crew get too far away, and despite their habit of picking up penalties for being early at controls, were still well in contention by the half way break. Rob and Graham Dance fell a few places late on, while Sheridan/Cochrane decided at the long break that their car was so bad that they would head home to change the rear shock absorbers. In fact, the filling station was only a mile from Lloyd's house, so they lost no time and were much happier with the changes they made to the car. Equal 5th at this point were the East of Scotland crew of Euan Brodie/Oly McCollum (Peugeot 205), with perhaps the fact that Oly is originally from Northern Ireland and has rallied here a few times starting to show as an advantage.


Some crews struggling included car no.2 Mike Biss/Cath Woodman, who missed one secret check altogether and had some heavy penalties for time lost in a map reference section to fall down to 8th overall. Stephen Wishart/Jonathan Charlesson, despite driving very enthusiastically in their Peugeot 106, were struggling to make an impact on the leader board, due in no small part to losing 15 minutes while stuck in a ditch. They were towed out by the Sierra of Leslie Young/Lewis Boyd, who, despite losing around 3 minutes for this unselfish act, only picked up 9 marks in total during this 40 mile run to move up to 7th overall.


John and Jonathan Henderson now jointly led the Novice Rally with Andrew Hughes/Neil Anderson after the 205 of Woods/Ragg retired when the clutch gave in.


Positions after TC17:

  1. Phil Dorman/Alan Dorman 7 marks
  2. Michael Monaghan/Iain Tullie 20 marks
  3. Monty Pearson/Ewan Leeming 25 marks
  4. Rob Dance/Graham Dance 30 marks
  5. Gary Sheridan/Lloyd Cochrane 51 marks
  6. = Euan Brodie/Oly McCollum 51 marks
  7. Leslie Young/Lewis Boyd 58 marks
  8. Mike Biss/Cath Woodman 68 marks
  9. Chin/Matthew Fowle 69 marks
  10. Andy Coshan/Ben Greenfield 73 marks




The third quarter saw the rally move south, with the route tackling the maze of roads along the Armagh/Monaghan border in and around the village of Keady.


A return to top form saw the London Counties crew of Biss/Woodman drop only 3 penalties to lift them up to 4th overall by the time the rally reached its final competitive relaxed section. The Dormans' dominant run continued, and their lead just kept increasing. By the time of the halt, they had a 28 minute cushion over 2nd place Monaghan/Tullie, who lost time during both the sections described by herringbone route instructions.


Wishart/Charlesson were another crew really getting into the rally and moved back into the top 10 after an excellent run. The Dances just held onto 3rd place, with their worst section being the final one before the break once again. Terry Martin/Paul Taylor were another crew on the move up the field, and the North of England crew were ruing their disastrous first quarter which had put paid to a high finish. Pearson/Leeming lost out when they picked up a "30" for a missed control, which pitched them into a very close battle as only 4 marks separated 4th to 6th place.


Andrew Hughes/Neil Anderson took the sole lead of the Novice Rally, well clear of the Omagh pairing of William Todd/Maurice Cresswell.


Positions after TC27:

  1. Phil Dorman/Alan Dorman 13 marks
  2. Michael Monaghan/Iain Tullie 41 marks
  3. Rob Dance/Graham Dance 61 marks
  4. Mike Biss/Cath Woodman 71 marks
  5. Monty Pearson/Ewan Leeming 73 marks
  6. Gary Sheridan/Lloyd Cochrane 75 marks
  7. Euan Brodie/Oly McCollum 88 marks
  8. Leslie Young/Lewis Boyd 100 marks
  9. Chin/Matthew Fowle 114 marks
  10. Stephen Wishart/Jonathan Charlesson 115 marks




The final quarter ran north away from Keady, past Seagahan Dam and finished with the 100th manned control of the night being back at the Armagh City Hotel.


The Dormans rounded off a fabulous performance with another near faultless run towards the finish. Their final tally of penalties was 24, which included only a single 3 minute penalty with the rest being made up of 1 and 2 minute penalties.


Second was an excellent performance from Michael Monagan/Iain Tullie, who brought their Sierra home on 73 marks, and had maintained 2nd place throughout most of the rally.


Moving up to third by the end were Biss/Woodman, who had finished runners-up on the last running of this rally, 6 years ago. Sheridan/Cochrane also moved up during the final quarter, and only missed out on 3rd place by 2 marks.


5th home, and the first Scottish crew, were Pearson/Leeming, who lost a lot of time on the very last section, and approached the final control from the wrong direction. Sixth, and completing the winning Northern Ireland trio, were Wishart/Charlesson. They finished first on the road, performed better than anyone over the last quarter, moved up 4 places in 40 miles, and genuinely looked like they were ready for another 150 miles of rallying at the final control.


Andy Coshan/Ben Greenfield were the first Central Southern crew home in 7th, and were at the head of a tight finishing group. Only 10 marks separated 7th to 10th, with the other crews being Brodie/McCollum, Young/Boyd and Chin/Matthew Fowle, who finished the rally with their yellow Manta lighter by about the weight of a front bumper. One crew noticeably struggling towards the end were Rob and Graham Dance. After starting so strongly, and still holding 3rd place after 135 miles, they racked up multiple penalties in the final 20 miles to finish in 12th place.


The Association of Northern Ireland Car Clubs won the Inter-Association Cup for 2004. Their three crews were the Dormans (1st), Sheridan/Cochrane (4th) and Wishart/Charlesson (6th). This was the Northern Ireland team's third Inter-Association victory, which makes them the joint most successful association. They are yet to lose their home event, but on the other hand, they are yet to win on anything other than their home event. London Counties are the other 3-times winners, as they won the first three IA rallies between 1989 and 1991.


Completing a Celtic 1-2, the East of Scotland finished second in the Inter-Association, which was their best ever finish. Their competing crews were Pearson/Leeming (5th), Brodie/McCollum (8th) and Derek McLean/Iain Cravan (11th). Iain obviously thought the rally wasn't enough of a challenge, and so chose to cycle from his home in Edinburgh to meet up with his driver and catch the boat in Stranraer!


Third were the Association of Northern Car Clubs, with Central Southern 4th and London Counties 5th.


The Novice rally finished with Hughes/Anderson winning from the Vauxhall Corsa of Todd/Cresswell, with the father and son team of George/Stephen Wallace rounding out the top 3.



Patrick McCollum



Positions at the finish:

  1. Phil Dorman/Alan Dorman 24 marks
  2. Michael Monaghan/Iain Tullie 73 marks
  3. Mike Biss/Cath Woodman 92 marks
  4. Gary Sheridan/Lloyd Cochrane 94 marks
  5. Monty Pearson/Ewan Leeming 119 marks
  6. Stephen Wishart/Jonathan Charlesson 125 marks
  7. Andy Coshan/Ben Greenfield 148 marks
  8. Euan Brodie/Oly McCollum 150 marks
  9. Leslie Young/Lewis Boyd 155 marks
  10. Chin/Matthew Fowle 158 marks


Inter Association Challenge

  1. The Association of Northern Ireland Car Clubs 243 marks
  2. The East of Scotland Association of Car Clubs 462 marks
  3. The Association of Northern Car Clubs 746 marks
  4. The Association of Central Southern Motor Clubs 782 marks
  5. The London Counties Association of Car Clubs 1128 marks
  6. The Association of Northern Ireland Car Clubs B DNF



  1. Andrew Hughes/Neil Anderson 98 marks
  2. William Todd/Maurice Cresswell 143 marks
  3. George Wallace/Stephen Wallace 204 marks
  4. Hubert Scott/Elaine Browne 226 marks
  5. Nigel Campbell/Colin Harkness 324 marks
Posted by PMcCollum on 18/8/2010; Last updated by PMcCollum on 18/8/2010