2006 Tour of the Mournes Report

10 February 2006

It was like normal service had been resumed. After the Jumping Jack, when the Dormans and McKeown/McCollum were organising rather than competing, things returned to normal with all the Expert crews back in attendance for round 2 of the championship. The rest of the field were wondering how the Dormans would cope with defending their third successive title. Could they keep up their legendary consistency, or would they finally start to make mistakes, maybe even out of complacency? Well, when it came to it, they answered in the most definitive way possible. They won the Tour of the Mournes. In fact, for the first time ever, they officially cleaned a championship rally. Rathfriland Motor Club had planned out a route of 70 miles, and included 29 checks along the way. But it wasn't enough to catch out the champions.

A perfect score is a rare thing on a navigation rally. The last time it happened on a championship round was way back when Eric and Glenn Patterson were at the height of their powers, and they cleaned their local round of the series, Dungannon's Moonraker Rally, in 1999.

The Tour of the Mournes was held in perfect weather conditions once again, much like the Jumping Jack was. It was cold, but clear and dry. The route followed the familiar Rathfriland pattern of a start in the town leading to two laps of a compact area. This year the rally headed in an anti-clockwise direction, with Rathfriland being the southern-most point of the area.<br /><br />Two crews had been clean at the half way halt, with Willie McKeown and Patrick McCollum still level with the Carrickfergus brothers. But the 2nd half saw McKeown/McCollum drop to 3rd place after making a number of errors, the most serious of which was a wrong departure from TCH. This control was parked just before a not as map junction, and the route instructions were written in such a way to tempt the crews to take the short cut through the triangle at the junction, as opposed to taking the long way round via the hairpin.

Eddie Murphy and Barry Taggart got this departure correct, although they did own up to only just about catching on to the trick. In fact, they had their car pointing towards the incorrect departure before steering the Corsa back to the penalty-free route. This enabled them to finish in 2nd place. They finished on 4 marks, all of which were collected at the final Time Control before relaxed. The mileage on the route instructions was not correct, and the ensuing confusion led to them losing the 4 minutes.

Gary Sheridan and Lloyd Cochrane finished 4th. They were another crew caught out by TCH, and they finished on 22 marks, which was only 1 ahead of Clifford Auld and John Lindsay. The Rover P6 crew had managed the not as map triangle without problem, but errors elsewhere, most notably at the circular map trace, meant their total of 23 marks gave them a 5th place finish. This left James Woods and Chris Ragg, winners of the opening round, to come in 6th on 28 marks.

John and Jonathan Henderson won the Semi-Expert Class, largely due to them being the only crew in that class to navigate the TCH triangle without penalty. They finished a scant 2 marks ahead of Hubert and Elaine Scott, who were back out in their Peugeot 106.

The biggest class of the night was the Novices. Out of 25 cars, 11 of them were in this class. And once again, that triangle had a bearing on the outcome of the class. Only two Novice crews got this bit right, namely Brian and Victoria Black and Paul Magowan/Adrian Park. The Blacks had a few penalties carried over from the first half, when they had both a wrong approach and a missed control, so they finished 4th in class. Third were Ronnie and Aaron Mitchell on 56, and second for the second time and a row were Gary and Robert Milligan. This meant the local Rathfriland pairing of Paul Magowan and Adrian Park picked up their first class win in the championship on a score of 28.

The best of the Beginners were Des and Ryan O'Loan, who brought their Citroën Saxo home with a loss of 75 marks. Ominously for the rest of us, there was a navigator with a familiar name making her debut on this rally. Hazel Dorman, mother of you know who, was competing in Class 4 with husband Brian at the wheel of the Mk I Escort. Unfortunately, it was not the dream start to Hazel's navigating career, as she succumbed to that other Dorman trait, car sickness. On this occasion they did not finish. But that's not to say that this is the end. Dorman jr was sick many a time in his early career, but persevered until he found an answer, so we could yet be under an attack on two fronts from the yellow car clan of Carrickfergus.

<br />Patrick McCollum

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