2005 Circuit of Down Rally Report

11 March 2005

In 2005, Phil and Alan Dorman are attempting to clinch a hat-trick of championship titles. They started the year by giving the competition a glimmer of hope that their consistently high standards had dropped a little, as they failed to win either of the first two rounds. But in the Circuit of Down, they won in a most emphatic style and it was very much a case of normal service resumed.

Clerk of the Course, David McElroy, and his team at Newry and District Motor Club managed to thread a 75 mile route deftly between the towns of Gilford, Waringstown, Portadown, Tandragee, Scarva and Banbridge. Twenty-five cars made the start, of which eleven were competing in the Novice Class.

The start of the rally was reasonably straightforward for the crews, until the last section before half way, when the difficulty increased distinctly. The Dormans had least bother here, and reached the halt on 4 marks, with Willie McKeown/Patrick McCollum and John/Jonathan Henderson sharing second spot on 6 marks.

The rally picked up pace during the second half, with more challenging sections, culminating in a final, 11½ mile, anti-clockwise loop around Gilford. This section summed up the whole rally, with the Dormans finding little bother, then McKeown/McCollum being noticeably slower, and then the rest of the field struggling more.

The top crews were well spread out by the end. The Dormans won on 7 marks, with second going to Willie McKeown/Patrick McCollum (Vauxhall Corsa) on 29 marks, and Gary Sheridan/Lloyd Cochrane (Nova) on 81 marks.

The semi-experts were won by the Rover P6 of Clifford Auld/John Lindsay, who had stayed penalty free for longer than William Todd/Maurice Cresswell (Corsa) to claim the class victory. Both crews finished on 89 marks, which was just ahead of Paul Gray/Jim Smith on 93. After their promising start, the Hendersons ended in 4th in class on 115.

Stuart/Richard Hyland made it two class wins a row in the Novice section, when they beat another Co Tyrone crew, Nigel Campbell/Colin Harkness into second. Brian Black, who is a regular stage rally driver, and his daughter Victoria, had their best finish of the year with a strong 3rd place finish. George/Stephen Wallace, held onto their lead in the class championship after coming home in 4th place.

The Beginners class was won by Neil McClimmond/Ian Campbell (Mini) from Ronnie/Aaron Mitchell, who were competing in a Subaru Forester for this event.

There have now been three rallies so far this year, and three different winners. The championship continues in Enniskillen, when Eddie Murphy/Barry Taggart will be back and hoping to make it 4 different winners for the year.

Patrick McCollum

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