2006 Firecracker Rally Report

3 November 2006

The Energia Navigation rally championship finished with James Woods and Chris Ragg winning the final round, the Ulster Automobile Club's Firecracker Rally.

Twenty-four cars started the event from Annahilt in Co Down on a bitterly cold evening. The 80 mile route took crews in a clockwise loop between Saintfield, Crossgar, Ballynahinch, Dromara and Lisburn before returning to Annahilt. The rally was unusually high scoring, which caused a lot of confusion. The top crews were all convinced they were maintaining the correct average speed, yet they were penalised on almost every section for timing infringements. Added to this were some debatable route instructions, which all meant that there was much discussion when the first set of results was posted. No satisfactory conclusion could be decided upon, so the results that were originally declared were agreed to stand as final.

Second in the results were the Semi-Expert crew of Hubert and Elaine Scott, who clinched the Semi-Expert championship with this result. Third were Clifford Auld and John Lindsay in an Audi Coupe, with the Omagh crew of William Todd and Maurice Cresswell in fourth.

The Novice class was won by Linda Kenneway and Rachel Muldoon in their Peugeot 205 Rallye, but it wasn't enough to stop Ronnie and Aaron Mitchell winning this class in the championship. Gary and Robert Milligan were 2nd in the rally, just ahead of David and Kyle Preston, both in Citroën Saxos.

The best of the Novice Class, which was mainly made up of crews that competed in the recent Circuit of Ireland Retrospective Trial, were Robert Holmes and Roger Corbett in a Mini Cooper, ahead of Raymond Kelly and Colin McDowell in a Toyota Starlet.

In the final championship standings, the champion club for the sixth consecutive occasion was Queen's University Belfast Motor Club.

The winner of this championship wins the title of Ulster Rally Champion, and the trophy for it dates back to 1959. Previous winners have included Robert McBurney, Ronnie McCartney, Cahal Curly and Dessie Nutt, but in 2006 the winners were once again Phil and Alan Dorman. This is the fourth year in a row they have won the title, which is a feat that has never been achieved before. They won five of this year's nine rallies, when nobody else won more than twice. Willie McKeown and Patrick McCollum were runners-up in the championship for the third time in four years.

Phil and Alan also announced that they were retiring from the championship on Friday. In the last four years, they have been the crew that all others tried and failed to beat. In that time, they won a total of seventeen rallies in the championship, and nearly every other navigation rally not in the championship. 2007 will definitely have a different feel to it, without the familiar yellow Nova running at car no.1.

<br />Patrick McCollum

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