2011 Summer Lanes Rally Report

23 July 2011

Robert Woodside Jnr and Stephen Dowds drove their Mazda MX-5 to victory in the Summer Lanes Rally.  Although they led from start to finish, there was very little to separate Woodside/Dowds from their three closest pursuers.  After 14 tests, only 9 seconds separated the top 4 cars, but two very fast final tests from Woodside secured the win.  Mark and Nikki Doran took second with last year's winners JJ and Carol Proctor Farrell third and Eamonn Byrne/Joanna Lenehan fourth.


Forty cars gathered on a beautiful summer's morning in Dundrod to take part in the fourth running of the Summer Lanes Rally.  Clerk of the Course, James Nicol had laid on a route that comprised of 16 tests run through private farm lanes between Dundrod and Doagh.  Eight tests were completed in the morning and after lunch the same 8 tests were tackled.


The first test, Greenhill, broke the competitors in gently as most beat the bogey time, but a fastest time on the next test, Back Burn, moved Woodside/Dowds into the sole lead of the rally, which was a lead they were never to relinquish.  Despite the fact that they set the fastest, or equal fastest, times on all of the first 5 tests, and on 7 out of the morning loop of 8 tests, the first four cars were separated by a scant 5 seconds at the lunch time break.


The order throughout the field had really been shaken up by the final test before lunch.  This was the second visit to the 0.92 mile long Evervale test.  This event is run as a Navigation Rally and so the utmost importance is put on getting the route correct.  On this run through Evervale, there was a subtle change to the test in that cars had to negotiate a short slalom starting to the right of the first cone, as opposed to the left on the first run.  This small change caught out a large number of competitors with a total of 25 out of the 40 cars that attempted this test getting it wrong.  So subtle was this change that almost all of the competitors were unaware that they gone wrong when asked about it after finishing the test.  But it was an expensive error, as most cars that did the test correctly were beating the 2 minute mark and the penalty for the wrong route was a time of 5m 31sec.


The afternoon tests followed the same pattern with Woodside/Dowds being fastest or joint fastest on 5 out of the 8 tests.  Despite the closeness of the top competing cars, the MX-5 crew led the rally from start to finish.  This win comes on the heels of being the fastest car on the previous lanes rally to be organised, which was the Orchard Classic Rally as part of the Loughgall Festival of Motorsport, and improves on their 2nd place finish on this Summer Lanes rally in 2009 at the wheel of the very different Frogeye Sprite.


Their move to a Mazda MX-5 is one that many of their fellow competitors have also made.  No fewer than six MX-5s entered this rally, although they were out-numbered by the eight Toyota Starlets in the field.  This type of event appeals to many competitors of the Classic Rally world, who compete in events such as the Circuit of Ireland Retrospective, so there are a substantial number of older cars in the field which adds a pleasing variety to the field.  As well as the popular Ford Escort MkI, MG Midget and Mini, there were also a couple of Ford Anglias, a BMW 3.0CSL, a 1970s Opel Kadett Coupe and an Opel Manta.


Behind Robert Woodside and Stephen Dowds, the rest of the top five finishers were made up of members of the Dublin based Trials Drivers' Club.  These were the Dorans and Farrells, who had 7 fastest or equal fastest times and took the top two places in the 1975-1991 cars category, Eamonn Byrne and Joanna Lenehen, with 9 top times and Frank Lenehen and Olwen Blair with 4 top times.  Fifth went to Roger Gordon and Clifford Auld in the big Toyota Celica Supra.


Robert McGimpsey and Mark Faulkner won the pre 1974 category in their MG Midget from Paul Williamson/Johnny Kennedy's Ford Escort MkI.


The Summer Lanes Rally first ran in 2008 when Alan Dorman and Richard Hyland came up with the format which proved instantly popular and has led to a number of other clubs running similar events.  As the genre continues to grow each event's popularity helps the others and gives what many people are after: a good day's fun competing in their cars.




 Patrick McCollum




  1. Robert Woodside Jnr/Stephen Dowds (Mazda MX-5) 17:28
  2. Mark Doran/Nikki Doran (Ford Escort MkI) 17:39
  3. J.J. Farrell/Carol Proctor Farrell (Toyota Starlet) 17:45
  4. Eamonn Byrne/Joanna Lenehan (Toyota Starlet) 17:47
  5. Frank Lenehan/Olwen Blair (Toyota Starlet) 18:39
  6. Roger Gordon/Clifford Auld (Toyota Celica Supra) 19:02
  7. Piers Mac Fheorais/Tim Faulkner (Mazda MX-5) 19:30
  8. Jim Crozier/David Kingham (Citroën Saxo) 19:34
  9. David McClurg/Garry McClurg (Citroën AX) 20:13
  10. Richard Meeke/Philip O'Reilly (Opel Corsa) 22:03
  11. Daniel Byrne/Jonathan Bradshaw (Toyota Starlet) 22:12
  12. Kevin Fitzgerald/Vincent Fagan (Volkswagen Golf) 22:20
  13. John Farrell/John Golden (Ford Escort) 22:21
  14. Steven Free/Keith Wiseman (Proton) 22:38
  15. Richard Earney/Jamie Edgar (Toyota Starlet) 22:48
  16. Liam Regan/Ian Regan (Ford Escort) 23:16
  17. Robert McGimpsey/Mark Faulkner (MG Midget) 23:17
  18. Ciaran Carey/Rachel Muldoon (Vauxhall Nova) 23:22
  19. Paul Williamson/Johnny Kennedy (Ford Escort MkI) 23:25
  20. Mark Stirling/Stephen Ramsey (Opel Kadett) 23:37


Category Winners


Post 1991 cars: Robert Woodside Jnr/Stephen Dowds (Mazda MX-5)


1975 to 1991 cars: Mark Doran/Nikki Doran (Ford Escort Mk1)


Pre 1975 cars: Robert McGimpsey/Mark Faulkner (MG Midget)




Posted by PMcCollum on 13/8/2011; Last updated by PMcCollum on 13/8/2011