Erne Safari Report

23 March 2018

Grainger/Howard Stay Consistent to Claim Another Safari Win 

Local driver Benny Grainger partnered by David Howard in their classic Austin Mini Cooper claimed victory on the Elite Tyres and Repairs Erne Safari Rally last Friday night. It wasn’t until the second half of the rally that the Cooper mounted duo established dominance dropping only 7 minutes into Secret Check 15.5 whilst nearest rivals John and Jonathan Henderson in their Nissan Micra lost a maximum 30 and effectively the rally eventually finishing 19 minutes down in second overall.  As no entries were received for Class 2 this meant that next on the results sheet were Class 3 crew of Tony Kelly and Aaron Johnston in their Audi A6 Estate claiming a class win by some 41 minutes! Class 4 winners were Bryan Og Gallagher and Peter Jennings in a Peugeot 406 with Jennings unusually in the ‘hot seat’ for once. They just pipped the father and son crew of Gary and Darragh Sheridan, in their immaculate Vauxhall Nova Sport, by one minute.  A commendable third in Class 4 was the father and son crew of Mark and Kyle Thompson in a Mazda MX5 a further 5 minutes in arrears.

A bumper entry of 29 ended up with 26 starters on the night and what a super night for navigation rallying with clear starlight skies, dry, twisty and bumpy roads plus a selection of period rally cars which had fans jostling to use their phones taking pictures at Elite Tyres’ premises during pre-event scrutiny. Apart from Grainger’s Austin Mini Cooper, Neil Fletcher appeared in his Mk 1 Ford Escort Mexico, whilst the Sheridans were in a Vauxhall Nova Sport. Mark and son Kyle Thompson wheeled out their Mazda MX5 which they also use in Targa Rallies and were joined in similar cars by Geoff Lamont/Colin Irvine and Harold McClelland and Neil Rodgers. Enniskillen man Oliver Treacy was partnered by Barry Murphy in their immaculate Subaru Impreza estate on their first ever navigation rally but unfortunately they were not classed as finishers on the night. The Class 1 crews enjoyed a 65 mile route to the north and east of Irvinestown whilst Classes 3 and 4 competed over a 45 mile route which finished after Time Control G. Other local crews competing on the night were Drew Chambers/Ian Beavis – Peugeot 206GT 4th in Class4, Mark McCaffrey/Conal Mullin – Peugeot 405 5th in Class4, Neil Harron/Brian Hoy – Toyota Corolla 6th in Class 4 and Mervyn Wilson and Scott Thompson – Mazda 323 7th in Class 4. Other locals included Matthew Cathcart/Connor Woods – Ford Focus RS Cosworth, Raymond Elliott/Gareth Barton – Suzuki Swift, and William Graham Snr/William Graham Jnr – Honda Civic. 

At the finish in Mahon’s Hotel in Irvinestown the crews enjoyed a hot supper before Drew Wilson, Clerk of the Course, was joined by Event Secretary, Wendy Blackledge, to declare the results and hand out the prizes. 



Posted by PMcCollum on 26/3/2018; Last updated by PMcCollum on 26/3/2018