2007 Jumping Jack Rally Report

9 February 2007

Andy Whale and Chris Ragg won the Jumping Jack Rally after a closely fought battle with Leslie Young/Lewis Boyd. The lead swapped between these two crews for the duration of the rally, with victory sealed only in the penultimate section.

Richard Hyland of Queen's University Belfast Motor Club put on a ninety mile route which started near Dundrod, and visited Templepatrick before heading south towards Glenavy, then out to the lough shore around Aghalee and back past Maghaberry to the finish at Dundrod. There had been fears of a treacherously slippy rally after snow had threatened to fall during the week, but on the night the temperature stayed high enough for this not to happen.

Twenty-two cars started the rally, and while none of the top crews had any bother during the first section that used part of the Dundrod TT circuit, the second section was a different matter altogether. There were three farm lanes used on this part of the route, and these proved particularly hard to find. The entrances to all these lanes were very well concealed, being no more than a break in the hedge. Willie McKeown/Patrick McCollum missed the turn into the first lane, and then turned round and into the lane from the wrong direction, giving them a "15". Eddie Murphy/Barry Taggart didn't even try the first lane, preferring to go straight to the second lane instead. The "30" they got for this put pay to any chance of a good result.

Gary Sheridan and Lloyd Cochrane made their big mistake leaving TCD. The map trace that crews were handed showed what roads should be avoided. Lloyd didn't realise this, and headed off down a road he was meant to stay clear of. That cost them 15 marks. When they realised their mistake, they turned to join the correct route, but before next control came across the Seat Ibiza of Andy Whale/Chris Ragg that had failed to fully negotiate a T-right junction and was stuck in a ditch. This was the second time in as many rallies that the Ibiza had had an off road excursion. This time, though, there was no major damage done and once Sheridan/Cochrane towed them out Whale/Ragg were able to continue.

The rest of the rally had less drama, with crews just dropping time while trying to decipher the sometimes tricky instructions that had been written by that man Alan Dorman. By the end of the rally, only two Expert crews had avoided any 15s or 30s. They were Whale/Ragg and Young/Boyd. There was very little between these crews for the entire rally, but Young/Boyd dropped 11 minutes in the last three sections which finally handed victory to Whale/Ragg. This is the second consecutive year that Chris Ragg has won the Jumping Jack, and it is now 5 times in a row that a previous Clerk of the Course of this rally has won it. Chris seems to be continuing the trend of copying aspects of Alan Dorman's approach to rallying. Firstly he changed to a brightly coloured car, and for this rally he changed to a bearded driver. It wouldn't be a surprise to hear that he is looking to move house to Carrickfergus.

McKeown/McCollum finished in third place. They only dropped 4 marks in the final 70 miles, but their disastrous attempt at the lane section had done the damage. Murphy/Taggart finished 4th after adding a wrong departure to their earlier missed control. Sheridan/Cochrane were 5th.

The semi-expert class was won by John and Jonathan Henderson. They picked up quite a lot of time penalties in every section, but with no 15s or 30s it was good enough to give them the class win and 6th place overall. Ronnie and Aaron Mitchell, who had such a great run two weeks earlier, had fewer time penalties than anyone else in the class, but missing the first farm lane and a later wrong departure cost them dear, and they finished on 88 marks, just three behind the Hendersons.

David and Kyle Preston had an excellent event. They scored a very impressive 11 marks, which was the lowest of any crew in the rally. They were well clear of second in class, Rodney and Helen Ferguson. The Fergusons claimed they had a fraught night, but apart from a wrong departure from TCD, they had a good run and finished on 33 marks. Brian and Victoria Black were clean in almost every section, but a wrong approach into that troublesome first farm lane and a wrong departure near the end of the rally pushed their final score to 36 and 3rd place. Kai Young/Jonny Elliot were 4th in class, with Kai driving past his own front door during the rally.

The best Beginner crew was Barry Gilpin and Denis Morton, who finished on 30 marks, well clear of Neil and Rebecca Fletcher, who were on 99.

Next the championship travels to Tyrone, when Omagh MC will be running the Pre-Circuit Rally.

Patrick McCollum

Posted by PMcCollum on 27/8/2008; Last updated by PMcCollum on 28/8/2008