Circuit of Down Report

2 March 2012

It took a tie break to decide the winner of the 2012 Circuit of Down. Two crews impressively managed to get round the route without any penalties at all. Gavin & Stuart Campbell and Neil Anderson & Kerry Moreland could only be separated once the engine capacity tie break was brought in, with the Mazda MX-5 of the Campbells winning over the Ford Mondeo of Anderson and Moreland.


The Circuit of Down is part of this year's Night Rally Challenge where the emphasis has been put on bringing new competitors into the sport of rallying in general and navigation rallying in particular. The whole year is structured to introduce different aspects of competing as the season progresses, so the first night was held indoors and consisted of crews being taught how to plot map references and follow tulip diagrams. This being the second night, the crews took to the roads for the first time and the route they were to follow was described only by the type of previously taught instructions. All crews were allowed to plot the route before they left the start venue and had experienced competitors to call on for help should they have needed. Another part of the night was a talk explaining map trace and clock face type instructions which will be used on the next round of the series.


The route for the competing crews went from the Mountain House just outside Camlough heading in the general direction of Markethill, then towards Poyntzpass and back to the finish venue. It was a dry, clear and mild night which made ideal conditions for the event.


Sixteen crews left start venue but more importantly, sixteen crews made it back to the finish, albeit they took many varied routes in between. One lane between TCA and TCB proved particularly hard to find and of the crews that went wrong here, some realised their error and turned, some went off route but found their place on the map within a few miles, some ended up back at the start and were able to have another attempt at the route and for some it was an error they could not recover from. From TCB to TCD there were no real problems, but a tricky lane just before TCE was the next major sticking point. The crews that found the lane approached TCE correctly, but those that didn't picked up 15 marks for a wrong approach. Only four crews found this lane, and two of those crews, namely David Gibson & Ian Ewart and Craig Hunt & Kathryn Vaux, took one minute longer on this section than they should have. Gibson and Ewart subsequently went a bit wrong on the next section, and with dropping time here came fourth. Hunt and Vaux finished 3rd in their Citroën DS3 with only 1 mark scored for the entire route. This meant that two crews successfully completed their first attempt at a rally without dropping any penalties at all. With Neil Anderson and Kerry Moreland's bigger engine, the win went to Gavin and Stuart Campbell.


Although both Kerry and Stuart were complete Novices, they did have a bit of experience in the car with them as Neil is a regular competitor as a navigator in these events and Gavin actually won this championship as a navigator back in 1987.


Some crews, even though they found the finish venue, were classified as DNF (Did Not Finish) as they failed to visit at least two-thirds of the controls on the route. At the end of the rally, all the crews talked about the buzz of taking part and the enjoyment they got from being out competing on a rally.


The next round of the series takes place on 30th March in Cookstown, which will be a little longer and use some more types of instruction as crews build up their experience and expertise in a gradual and structured learning curve.



Patrick McCollum

Posted by PMcCollum on 3/3/2012; Last updated by PMcCollum on 3/3/2012