2005 Jumping Jack Rally Report

4 February 2005

The Energia Northern Ireland Navigation Rally championship 2005 started with the Jumping Jack Rally, organised by Queen's University Belfast Motor Club. The rally was based in Magheralin, and the 90-mile route started near Moira, before heading in the direction of Dromore, and then crossed over the M1 Motorway a few times, eventually halting near the Maze area. The second half took the 35 crews towards Stoneyford and then across towards the Lough Shore beyond Aghagallon and Aghalee, finally finishing in Magheralin.

During the first 20 miles, Phil/Alan Dorman and Eddie Murphy/Barry Taggart, both double NI champions, failed to pick up any penalties. Just behind them at this stage, Gary Sheridan/Lloyd Cochrane, were on 1 mark. This rally can be a little daunting for some Semi-Expert crews, as it is often their first attempt at the more difficult route instructions. In this case, however, the semi-expert crews made a very strong start, and after 20 miles, Eamon Mimnagh/Maurice Cresswell and Mark Sterling/Roy Smith on only 2 and 3 marks respectively, with John and Jonathan Henderson on 8. Willie McKeown/Patrick McCollum had made a few errors by this stage, and had also picked up 8 minutes worth of penalites by this stage.

The leaderboard soon changed quite dramatically. Firstly, the semi-expert crews started missing numerous controls, and the leading class 2 crew by the break was Paul Gray/Jim Smith on 45 marks. Among the experts, Sheridan/Cochrane kept on the right route, but picked up a string of time penalties. Murphy/Taggart missed a passage control, and even Phil/Alan Dorman left TC7 in the wrong direction, incurring a 15 penalty, and then 10 more marks as they realised their error, turned and tried to make up time. This left McKeown/McCollum in the lead at the competitive relaxed section on 10 marks.

The second half proved much less problematic for the experts, as only the odd penalty was incurred, and so the final positions were unchanged from those at half way. This meant McKeown/McCollum (Vauxhall Corsa) won on 11 marks. They had also won the event in 2003, and as the Dormans won it last year, it is now 3 consecutive years that an ex-Jumping Jack Clerk of the Course has won this event. This might give current CoC, Chris Ragg, something to look forward to!

Second were the Dormans, with Murphy/Taggart 3rd and Sheridan/Cochrane 4th, all of whom were driving Vauxhall Novas.

The semi-experts struggled considerably more in the second half. Whereas the worst expert score during the second half was 18, the best score of the semi-experts was 77. It was the father and son team of John and Jonathan Henderson that came out best, with a final total of 129, well clear of the rest of the class. Behind them were Mimnagh/Cresswell (246), Gray/Smith (291) and Sterling/Smith(317)

The large Novice entry, comprising no fewer than 16 cars, had a slightly shorter route at 70 miles. The early leaders were Andy Hughes/Neil Anderson in yet another Vauxhall Nova, who lead at the half way halt on 13 marks. They were 7 minutes clear of George/Steven Wallace at this stage, but the Wallaces only dropped a single minute in the second half. This performance was too good for Hughes/Anderson, who picked up a few penalties for early arrival at controls during after the break to finish in second place on 23 marks, just 2 behind the winners. John Adams/Mervyn Elder (Peugeot 205) had a strong and steady run all night and ended in 3rd place. Brian/Victoria Black finished 4th on 68, with Gary/Robert Milligan (Citroën Saxo) 5th on 111.

Patrick McCollum

Posted by PMcCollum on 3/9/2008; Last updated by PMcCollum on 3/9/2008