2006 Circuit of Down Rally Report

13 October 2006

Phil and Alan Dorman won the Circuit of Down Rally, and with it clinched the Energia Northern Ireland Navigation Rally Championship for a record 4th consecutive year. Drew Todd is the only other navigator to have won four titles, but his were spread between the years of 1979 and 1992, which covered both the Road Rally and Navigation Rally eras.

The rally that marked this auspicious occasion was based in Newry and the 20 starters battled for supremacy over an 80 mile route that straddled the Armagh/Down border without going further north than Poyntz Pass. Once again, we enjoyed a clear and dry night, although many of the roads were very greasy.

The Dorman's nearest challenge came from Eddie Murphy/Barry Taggart in a Vauxhall Corsa, but one mistake from Murphy/Taggart 8 miles from the start dropped them 4 minutes and the chance was lost to claim their first victory of the year. The Dorman's themselves made a mistake just after the half way halt, but they were able to return to the correct route after losing only 2 marks and continued their relentless march towards another rally victory and championship title. Willie McKeown/Patrick McCollum reached the half way halt in second place, and then moved into the joint lead after the Dormans went wrong. They only stayed there for about 25 metres, as they missed a slot right immediately after a secret check, and ended up in 3rd place on 28 marks. Clifford Auld and John Lindsay were competing in a Triumph Vitesse. This is the fifth rally they have started this year, and this is the fifth different car they have used. Things weren't going too badly for them until just before TCD, when they lost all lights. It took nearly 20 minutes to fix the switch on the column stalk, but they continued on and finished 4th in class.

Hubert and Elaine Scott were the best Semi-Expert Crew and moved ever closer to stealing the championship lead in the class from John and Jonathan Henderson, who themselves had a wretched night. It was an emphatic victory for the Scotts, as they finished on 35 marks, with William Todd and Maurice Cresswell scoring 105 marks in 2nd place, and the Hendersons 227. It will take the final round to decide who wins the championship in this class. Even though Elaine is still 3 points behind Jonathan, when the 2 dropped scores come into play, she only has to finish 2nd or higher to win the Semi-Expert championship, regardless of where the Hendersons finish.

Linda Kenneway and Rachel Muldoon, in their Peugeot 205 Rallye, won the Novice Class with an excellent performance, as they only dropped 5 marks on the entire rally. Rodney and Helen Ferguson were back to much better form and came 2nd in class on 10 marks. Class leaders in the championship, Ronnie and Aaron Mitchell, in a beautiful 1987 Audi Quattro, had one disastrous 9 mile section, were they picked up 35 of their 36 marks, but still finished 3rd in class. Aaron will be Clerk of the Course of the next round, so he gets his average score for the year on that event, and that means he cannot be caught by Linda and Rachel and becomes the Novice Champion for this year.

As with every other class on this rally, the most difficult section for the Novice class was the one straight after relaxed. No fewer than seven crews made the same mistake that McKeown/McCollum had made earlier by missing the slot right after the first secret check in that section.

The Beginners class was won by Andrew Mairs and Michael Harvey, which made it a clean sweep of all four classes by members of QUB Motor Club. They finished on 135 marks, just ahead of Keith and William Neill on 149. Mark and Simon Johnston were the only other Beginner crew to reach the end of the route.

The club championship has also been decided for this year. Or at least, we know which club will win, but whether it is QUB's A or B team is still to be resolved. This is the 6th successive title for the University club, which means we have to go back to the 1900's to find another club who has won this award.

<br />Patrick McCollum

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