1999 Tour of the Mournes Report

12 February 1999

Rathfriland Motor Club staged their popular "Tour of the Mournes" navigation rally last Friday night. 27 crews entered the 75-mile route, which started and finished in the Old George, Rathfriland. The route took crews on a loop round Hilltown and Mayobridge. Some 40 marshals checked the competitors were on the right route and keeping to the correct time schedule.

For those readers unfamiliar with a Navigation Rally, the event is not based on speed like a stage rally, and the roads are not closed. Instead competitors are required to maintain an average speed of exactly 30 miles per hour. Sounds easy? Imagine driving 75 miles at an average speed of exactly 30 miles per hour, and having to arrive at 40 secret check points on route exactly on schedule - you are penalised for every minute early or late. Now imagine it is at night, and the route takes you down lots of narrow lanes which you've never seen before. Now imagine that you don't know what the route is until you start, and your navigator is handed cryptic instructions at each main check point that have to be worked out on the move. It's not easy, and a high standard of precision is required from both Driver and Navigator.

Father and Son partnership Eric and Glenn Patterson in a Riley Elf (you don't need a modern car!) from Dungannon had won last year's Tour of the Mournes and were the overall champions in last year's Stanley Gordon Oils Championship. They were confidently expected to be favourites this year but a puncture early on cost them valuable time and the best they could manage was third place. Worse off were John Henderson and Lloyd Cochrane from Loughgall, as the water pump on their Sunbeam blew up, damaging the radiator and causing instant retirement. First overall, with only 13 minutes penalty, was Portadown Crew Eddie Murphy and Barry Taggart in a Mk 2 Escort, while close behind on 17 minutes were Gary Sheridan and Richard Hicks, who had travelled from Enniskillen to compete. Another father and son pairing, this time with the son driving and the father navigating, is Philip and Brian Dorman, who finished fourth. They won the first round organised by Queens University, and this fourth place was just enough for them to hold onto a slender lead in the championship.

Most Rathfriland members were helping organise the event instead of competing, but Nigel White and Roy Smith from Newcastle managed a fine sixth place, while Trevor and Ricky Reid from Banbridge were eighth overall.

Class 3 covers the novices who were on a shorter route and easier instructions. Ian Smith and Alan Dorman in a Rover 214 won this class on 11 minutes penalty. Alan has just moved to the navigators seat having previously driven his father Brian. Banbridge crew Jim Morton and Allen Russel in a Mk 1 Cortina managed a fine second in this class. To show that all sorts of car can compete, the Dungannon crew of Paddy Quinn and David Burns came third in this class in a BMW 325i, despite collecting two punctures on the route!

There is also a Class 4 for beginners. Championship Sponsor Stanley Gordon from Lisburn saw his son Simon Gordon start in a Peugeot 205 with Andrew Tortolani navigating - they were leading the class until a gear linkage problem sidelined them. This class was won by Colin Hazelton and Mark Irwin in a Vauxhall Nova. The next round of the Stanley Gordon Oils Championship is Omagh Motor Club's pre-circuit rally on 5 March 1999.

If you want to learn more about Navigation Rallying or take part in any of the other events organised by Rathfriland Motor Club, please contact Roy Ferguson. The club runs a very successful Rallyschool in September of each year which has been the starting point for a number of Navigation and Stage rally competitors and details of this will be available nearer the time.


  1. Murphy/Taggart (Escort 13 mins
  2. Sheridan/Hicks (Nova) 17 mins
  3. atterson/Patterson (Riley Elf) 45 mins
  4. Dorman/Dorman (Nova) 56 mins
  5. Lindsay/McCollum (Mini) 104 mins
  6. White/Smith (VW Golf) 105 mins
Posted by PMcCollum on 23/2/2010; Last updated by PMcCollum on 23/2/2010