2008 Donaldson Fuels Rally Report

28 March 2008

Willie McKeown and Patrick McCollum extended their lead at the top of the Energia Navigation Rally Championship with victory in Cookstown Motor Club’s Donaldson Fuels Rally. Twenty-two cars started in Coagh and scribed a 90 mile route around east Tyrone.

It was a case of what if by many crews. At least four crews could easily have won the rally, as everyone was making errors and picking up plenty of penalty marks. Leslie Young and Lewis Boyd were the only crew to find all of the controls on the route. Or at least they had held that distinction right up until the point that their Peugeot 306 overheated. This caused their retirement from the rally with 20 miles of the rally left to run, when they were leading comfortably.

Eddie Murphy and Barry Taggart then inherited the lead, only to go badly wrong on the penultimate section which meant a third place finish in the end. Runners up were Gary Sheridan/Lloyd Cochrane, duly mostly to one costly error. 90 marks out of their total of 106 came early on when the correct route made use of a track and a couple of private lanes. They failed to notice these lanes, and by sticking to main roads they missed three controls. In the end, Willie McKeown and Patrick McCollum won the rally, despite making two major errors. On one section, they stopped for quite a while before deciding on taking a route that was about 4 miles shorter than it should have been. With the combination of being first on the road, thinking they were down on time and taking a shorter route, they managed to overtake a car which turned out to be the marshal who was manning the time control at the end of that section. Sheridan and Cochrane made one mistake meaning 3 missed controls, but with two mistakes lea ding to only 2 missed controls, McKoewn/McCollum survived to take their third win of the season. Their score of 96 is simply a massive score to win a rally on. I have no record of a bigger winning score ever having occurred. The Circuit of Down in 1999 was won on 91 marks, but I would be interested to know if this winning total has ever been beaten.

The Semi-Expert Class was won by David Kerr and Maurice Cresswell. They picked up penalties in almost every section, but they kept their heads down and outpaced the rest of the class. Their impressive run also earned them a 4th place overall. Gary and Robert Milligan finished second in class for the third rally in a row. The semi-expert class really took a hammering during that section with the track and private lanes, with none of the crews finding all the controls. John and Jonathan Henderson were leading the class at the end of this section, but it all went horribly wrong for them after that, with 6 missed controls between here and the end of the rally. David and Kyle Preston finished in third, while the pace-setters in the last couple of rounds, Leslie and Gareth Hawe, struggled round to a 5th place finish in class.

Neil and Rebecca Fletcher took their customary Novice Class win. Their total was 64, which was the lowest of any crew on the rally and finished 32 marks clear of Richard Beattie and Ian Hawthorne in second place with Andrew Mairs and Ian Campbell taking third.

Conor and young Tony Kelly won the Beginners class by a margin of no fewer than 125 marks. This class seemed to be more of a case of just surviving rather than aiming for a zero score. Even the class winners amassed a huge 296 marks during the night. This really did demonstrate just how difficult many of the competing crews found the rally.

Patrick McCollum

Posted by PMcCollum on 13/5/2008; Last updated by PMcCollum on 28/8/2008