2010 Dawnbreaker Rally Report

21 November 2010

Dawnbreaker Rally


Leslie and Gareth Hawe affirmed their position as top Northern Irish Navigation Rally crew by winning the 2010 Philip White Tyres Dawnbreaker Rally. This event was the annual Inter-Association Navigation Rally challenge where crews from all across the UK represent their local Association. The first such event ran in 1989 and was hosted by the London Counties Association of Motor Clubs. The location of this event works on a six year cycle, with a different region of the UK hosting it each year. In 2010 it was Northern Ireland's turn to run the event. The Dawnbreaker Rally only runs as the Inter-Association event and does not count towards the local championship. A normal Northern Ireland Championship event is in the region of 75 miles long, running from 9pm to just after midnight on Fridays throughout the year, but the Dawnbreaker was 165 miles, 153.5 of which were competitive, run on a Saturday night to make it easier for those crews coming from across the water to attend and ran from 11pm on Saturday night to around 7am on Sunday morning.


Twenty-six crews gathered in Armagh City on the Saturday evening, with nine crews having travelled from Britain to compete. The Associations represented were the Scottish Association and two English Associations; namely South Eastern and Northern. The host Association had never lost their home event but on the last running of this rally in 2004, English crews filled two of the top three places so the pressure was on to maintain their unbeaten home run. A late November date could mean any type of weather, but despite the torrential rain and wild winds of earlier in the month and the snow and ice of the week following the rally, the night the event ran was dry, calm and cold but not frosty and ran under a full moon to light the route. In short, it could not have been better.



After leaving the Armagh City start, the crews queued up just outside Milford for the competitive start. The first 44.5 mile portion took them North West towards Benburb, then past Caledon, Tynan, Tassagh and finished just outside Keady.


Two crews made the running through the first four sections, with Gary Sheridan and Lloyd Cochrane in their Proton leading from Leslie and Gareth Hawe, who just two weeks earlier had won the Northern Ireland Navigation Rally championship. The final section before the break was a map trace and this really threw Sheridan/Cochrane. They failed to spot a loop, missed a control in doing so handed the lead to the Hawe cousins. At the break, the Hawes were on 20 marks, a full 27 ahead of their nearest challenge. At such an early stage in the night, this was an ominous sign. The chasing pack were all very closely matched as three crews were tied on 47. Sheridan/Cochane were one of these, as well as a former Northern Ireland champion crew, Eddie Murphy/Barry Taggart and Ronnie and Aaron Mitchell. In the Novice rally Raymond and Gareth Deazley were leading on 22 marks with Clive Latimer and David McElroy second on 50. The latter crew had generally had the better run, but a missed control in the fourth, clock face, section had done the damage.


Leaderboard after TC7

  1. Leslie Hawe/Gareth Hawe 20 marks
  2. =Gary Sheridan/Lloyd Cochrane 47
  3. =Eddie Murphy/Barry Taggart 47
  4. =Ronnie Mitchell/Aaron Mitchell 47
  5. Gary Milligan/Robert Milligan 55
  6. Leslie Young/Lewis Boyd 63



The rally was meant to have a half hour break to take the crews from one side of Keady to the other, but such were the problems caused the clock face and map trace sections that many crews had little or no rest and used the break simply to reduce their lateness. The 33 mile route from TC7 to TC12 travelled westwards towards Middletown.


Now that the crews were warmed up a bit they seemed to get into their stride and this part of the night caused fewer problems for them. Indeed, over the 33 miles, the crew of Willie McKeown and Oly McCollum performed best and only picked up 5 marks. This crew were representing the Scottish Association, as Oly lives in Edinburgh and is a former Scottish Navigation Rally champion. Willie McKeown is a former Northern Ireland champion himself and as his regular navigator, and Oly's brother, Patrick, was Clerk of the Course for this event, the pair of them teamed up for this one-off occasion.


The Hawes may not have won this portion of the rally, but they did finish ahead of all their nearest pursuers and extended their lead. Sheridan/Cochrane retained second place, but had lost a further 11 marks in the process. Leslie Young/Lewis Boyd were improving now and were up to fourth. Hubert and Elaine Scott haven't competed regularly since 2006 but were in sparkling form. They had cleaned 4 sections since the start and were the fourth best crew in this quarter of the rally, but two missed controls in one earlier section had dropped them down the leaderboard. The leading English crew were Graham Child and Kevin Ablitt of the South Eastern Association in their Ford Escort Mk I. Chin and Nick Clarke had been first on the road at one point, but this gave a false impression as Nick felt quite unwell and was starting to cut and run in places.


Clive Latimer and David McElroy had clawed their way into the lead of the Novice Rally ahead of Raymond and Gareth Deazley, with Philip and Kyle Somerville holding third place.


Leaderboard after TC12

  1. Leslie Hawe/Gareth Hawe 27 marks
  2. Gary Sheridan/Lloyd Cochrane 65
  3. Willie McKeown/Oly McCollum 73
  4. Leslie Young/Lewis Boyd 77
  5. Eddie Murphy/Barry Taggart 86
  6. Ronnie Mitchell/Aaron Mitchell 87



The crews had a one hour break now as the route dipped across the border into County Monaghan to allow the competitors to refuel both themselves and their cars. The route ran along the border for the next 39.5 mile portion, which finished beside Newtownhamilton. The sections were now getting a bit shorter which was keeping the crews working hard.


The Hawes had been going fantastically well on this quarter until a herringbone section were they lost 15 minutes getting to the first secret and dropped a total of 41 marks in these 5 miles alone. They weren't punished as much as they might have been, as Sheridan and Cochrane were dropping small amounts of time in all sections. Their total for this quarter was 40, which was 7 better than the Hawes, but it remained Hawes in the lead, Sheridan/Cochrane second with the gap now 31. The best crew in this quarter were Ronnie and Aaron Mitchell in their Ford Sierra. The joint Clerks of Course of the Circuit of Ireland Retrospective Rally and fans of long endurance rallying were now appearing to relish the challenge of the all night event and were really starting to perform well. Their total for this quarter was 23. The next best crew in this quarter was Michael Monaghan and Paul Taylor in their Audi A4 Estate. Michael finished second in this event 6 years ago with Iain Tullie navigating and this quarter seemed to really suit the Northern Association crew. Young/Boyd were 3rd best in this portion of the rally and climbed another place overall to hold joint third with the Mitchells.


The Novice rally was very close now with both leading crews scoring 11 in this quarter to enter the run for home just 3 marks apart.


Leaderboard after TC20

  1. Leslie Hawe/Gareth Hawe 74 marks
  2. Gary Sheridan/Lloyd Cochrane 105
  3. =Leslie Young/Lewis Boyd 110
  4. =Ronnie Mitchell/Aaron Mitchell 110
  5. Eddie Murphy/Barry Taggart 119
  6. Willie McKeown/Oly McCollum 128



The final 36.5 miles that brought the crews home went past the Deadman's Hill area, through the notoriously difficult Cashel Hill, past Markethill and finished back in Armagh.


The four quarters of the rally were all won by different crews. Significantly, though, this final quarter was won by Sheridan/Cochrane. They had held second place since that early slip at the map trace section and now they seemed to be getting better and better as the rally approached its climax. They sections were now that bit shorter again, averaging about 4.5 miles each and the fast pace and difficult roads were holding no problems for the Proton crew as they closed on the leading crew, section by section. In the end, though, they couldn't do enough and ended the rally 10 marks behind the Dungannon cousins. In the last couple of months, the Hawes have won three consecutive Navigation Rallies, picked up their first Northern Ireland championship and now won the biggest Navigation Rally that is held in this region. They started as car number 1 and led the rally throughout. Challenges from other crews came and went, and even if the Hawes weren't the best at every part of the rally, no-one could achieve the consistency required to take the win away from the deserving Hawes.


Third behind Sheridan/Cochrane were Young/Boyd which meant the ANICC A Team filled the top 3 places on the rally. Just one mark behind Young/Boyd were Murphy/Taggart and only one behind them were the Mitchells, who may have been two places higher were it not for a costly puncture. Gary and Robert Milligan had an excellent final quarter and moved into 6th place at the finish, displacing McKeown/McCollum who officially were the best of the overseas crews, although with them being born in Fermanagh and Belfast respectively, they were stretching the definition of "overseas" somewhat. Hubert and Elaine Scott were 8th and Ciaran Carey/Rachel Muldoon were 9th, making it 8 ANICC crews in the top 9.


The first junction of the route of the penultimate section was a crossroads. Crews were meant to approach this junction, turn right, do a short loop which brought them back to the same crossroads where they were meant to turn right once again. Maybe it was tiredness creeping in, or just navigators having a little difficulty in deciphering what was a slightly awkward route instruction, but crews in equal measure turned left, right and went straight on at this junction. Some realised their mistake and returned to correct themselves, others carried on regardless, and others thought the route meant visiting the same junction and revisiting it on several occasions. Whatever the reasons, it meant it was probably the most visited junction in whole county of Armagh between the hours of 6am and 7am on the morning of the rally.


The top 10 was completed by Michael Stanyer/Ewan Leeming from Scotland. Ewan also performed well in the last Dawnbreaker, finishing 5th on that occasion. They led home a group of visiting crews as 11th was Graham Child/Kevin Ablitt (ASEMC), 12th was the Proton of Roger and Leigh Powley, who were representing the South East Association despite not hailing from that area, 13th was Gavin Smith/Simon Bentley (ANCC) in another Proton and in 14th was Michael Monaghan/Paul Taylor (ANCC).


The Novice Rally was won by Clive Latimer/David McElroy. They were just that little bit better than the Deazleys in each of the last 8 sections to eke out a 17 marks winning margin. Philip and Kyle Somerville were 3rd and Malcolm Johnston/Mick Gilmore were 4th.


In the end it was a clear victory for Northern Ireland in the Inter-Association Navigation Rally challenge. Their "A" Team won and the "C" Team were 2nd. As in 2004, Scotland were the best visiting Association, while South Eastern Association were 4th and one of the Northern Association crews did not finish.



Patrick McCollum




  1. Leslie Hawe/Gareth  Hawe (Renault Clio) 117
  2. Gary Sheridan/Lloyd Cochrane (Proton Compact) 127
  3. Leslie Young/Lewis Boyd (Vauxhall Vectra) 181
  4. Eddie Murphy/Barry Taggart (Vauxhall Corsa) 182
  5. Ronnie Mitchell/Aaron Mitchell (Ford Sierra) 183
  6. Gary Milligan/Robert Milligan (Renault Clio) 198
  7. Willie McKeown/Oly McCollum (Vauxhall Corsa) 239
  8. Hubert Scott/Elaine Scott (Subaru Forester) 257
  9. Ciaran Carey/Rachel Muldoon (Vauxhall Nova) 280
  10. Michael Stanyer/Ewan Leeming (Opel Corsa) 297
  11. Graham Child/Kevin Ablitt (Ford Escort) 326
  12. Roger Powley/Leigh Powley (Proton) 326
  13. Gavin Smith/Simon Bentley (Proton Satria) 412
  14. Michael Monaghan/Paul Taylor (Audi A4) 414
  15. Mark McElwee/Michael McElwee (Subaru Impreza) 537
  16. Gordon Simpson/Derek Graham (Peugeot 306) 659
  17. William Howard/David Howard (Vauxhall Astra) 782
  18. Chin /Nick Clarke (Vauxhall Corsa) 952
  19. Richard Crozier/Hannah Cessford (Ford Fiesta) 994



  1. Clive Latimer/David McElroy (Seat Ibiza) 82
  2. Raymond Deazley/Gareth Deazley (Vauxhall Corsa) 99
  3. Philip Somerville/Kyle Somerville (Toyota Starlet) 149
  4. Malcolm Johnston/Mick Gilmore (Škoda Felicia) 173
  5. Richard Beattie/Ian Hawthorne (Citroën Saxo) 261
  6. Graeme Smyth/Stephen Wishart (Subaru Legacy) 316


Inter-Association Challenge

  1. Association of Northern Ireland Car Clubs A 425
  2. Association of Northern Ireland Car Clubs C 735
  3. Scottish Association of Car Clubs 1530
  4. Association of South Eastern Motor Clubs 1604
  5. Association of Northern Ireland Car Clubs B 1623
  6. Association of Northern Car Clubs DNF
Posted by PMcCollum on 23/11/2010; Last updated by PMcCollum on 28/11/2010