2006 Moonraker Rally Report

15 September 2006

The Energia Navigation Rally championship started up again after its summer break with the Moonraker Rally. Once again, it was the Carrickfergus brothers, Phil and Alan Dorman, who won the Co Tyrone event. The rally was run on a dry and clear night, and there was even talk of crews being slowed by dust hanging in the air from cars in front. The route was based on the natural Navigation Rally country between Dungannon and Aughnacloy, where there is a tremendous network of tight and twisty lanes for all thirty-six competing cars to enjoy.

The Dormans have an extraordinary record in events run by Dungannon Motor Club, and this rally only added to their tally. This was their 4th consecutive victory in the Moonraker rally, although this win wasn't completely straightforward for them. They had to stop twice during the event for Alan to be sick, but even so they still only dropped a miserly 3 marks. Their nearest championship rivals, Willie McKeown and Patrick McCollum, had led at half way, but a tricky herringbone section caught out the Vauxhall Corsa pair, and they finished second on 11 marks. Third was another Corsa of Eddie Murphy/Barry Taggart who finished on 20 marks. Fourth were Leslie Young/Lewis Boyd, with the biggest damage to their score coming in the map trace section during the first half. 17 out of their 27 penalties came on this section alone.

Non-finishers in the Expert class included Gary Sheridan/Lloyd Cochrane, who were debuting a Proton on the event, but unfortunately only 10 miles from the start the timing belt jumped a few teeth, and it was time for home. Clifford Auld and John Lindsay didn't get much further, as they ran into a bank and bent a steering arm in John's Mini.

The Semi-Expert class was won by John and Jonathan Henderson despite their Talbot Sunbeam splitting a radiator hose midway through. They finished on a very good score of 20, which put them joint 3rd overall. Gerard Greene/Michael McElwee had a fine result in second place. They were very consistent, being the only crew apart from the Dormans to stay within 2 minutes of their schedule for the entire event. Third were Stuart and Richard Hyland. They originally planned to do the event in a recently purchased Nova, but when they realised very late on that the car wasn't going to be finished, they changed to their normal Astra, and possibly being a little flustered from the rush, picked up 87 marks during the night.

Ronnie and Aaron Mitchell cleaned the first half of the rally on their way to the Novice class win. Linda Kenneway/Rachel Muldoon in their Peugeot 205 Rallye were second, finishing stronger than the Mitchell's, but too many errors early on cost them dear. Gary and Robert Milligan where 3rd, which meant the top 3 positions in the rally mirrored the top 3 current championship positions. Kai Young and Jonathan Elliot, who were 4th with 22 marks, were another crew to finish strongly, picking up just 3 marks in the second half in their Toyota Starlet. Rodney and Helen Ferguson missed a control early on, and such is the closeness of competition in this class, that it dropped them from 3rd to 9th in class.

The other two classes were won by very clear margins. Ivor Barker/David O'Neill (Mini) were a full 67 marks ahead of Richard Keys/Alistair Barker in 2nd place in the Dungannon Motor Club class. In the Rally School class and James Nicol/Ciaran Carey (Nissan Micra), who were one of 10 crews from QUB Motor Club, finished on a very creditable 10 marks, which was 27 clear of the second placed crew of William and David Howard.

All competing crews got a stark reminder of the penalties that can be applied when we are seen to be driving in an inappropriate manner. When we are competing, and in the heat of a battle, it is sometimes easy to forget that all our navigation rallies are run on public roads, and as such we have a responsibility to keep a certain level of driving standard. Equally, organising clubs, who set the route through their own local area, have a responsibility to their local residents to see that driving standards are maintained. The MSA Competitors' Yearbook (the "Blue Book") includes rules about excessive speed, dangerous driving and also mentions specifically that all cars must be brought to a complete stop at any Give Way or Stop sign. The penalty for failing to comply with any of these rules is exclusion, and these penalties cannot be varied by rally organisers. Dungannon Motor Club had observers checking the driving standards on the event, and two cars were deemed to have broken these rules. The club then had no option but to exclude both cars from the results. It may seem a harsh decision, and indeed it was not taken lightly by the club, but it should serve as a reminder to all of us that we are not competing on closed roads, and the good will that we enjoy from the local residents could quickly be eroded if we were seen driving in a way that could be viewed as dangerous or unacceptable.

The championship now moves to Armagh for the next event, and with their third win of the year, the Dorman's are edging ever closer to that 4th consecutive title.

<br />Patrick McCollum

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