2005 Moonraker Rally Report

16 September 2005

The Energia Northern Ireland Navigation Rally Championship returned to action after the summer break with Dungannon Motor Club's slickly run Moonraker Rally. A full entry of 40 cars started the rally under a clear sky with an almost full moon. Dungannon has always been a happy hunting ground for the Dorman clan, and so this continued as the reigning champions Phil and Alan won the rally, and in the process completed a hat-trick of three consecutive Moonraker Rally victories.

A number of competitors made a welcome return to the championship, including a new partnership of Brian Dorman driving for Lewis Boyd. Stephen Wishart's planned return with Jonathan Charlesson had to be postponed after Stephen hurt his back, but Jonathan still got a run out with Gary McElhinney driving. Title challengers Eddie Murphy and Barry Taggart were missing from the entry list after selling their Vauxhall Nova and not having a replacement car ready in time.

The first half saw few penalties from the leading crews with 5 crews reaching the halt on 2 marks or less. The Dormans and Willie McKeown/Patrick McCollum were both clean, while the semi-expert crew of Ivan/Gareth Hawe were on 1 mark. Gary Sheridan/Lloyd Cochrane, who had to stop to tighten a loose wheel, and another semi-expert crew of James Woods/Chris Ragg, were on 2 marks apiece.

Gary McElhinney/Jonathan Charlesson picked up numerous early penalties in the first half, partly due to having no trip meter in their Subaru Legacy. They had also been struggling after their fan belt broke, leaving them with no power steering and a slowly dying battery. They swapped batteries with James Woods at half way, but it wasn't enough to get them to the end, and they finally retired 25 miles from the end.

The more demanding 2nd half soon separated the crews out, with the Hawe's being the first to suffer. Some plotting errors and a disaster on a herringbone section, where they picked up two 30's, ended their good run, although they still finished a respectable 6th (80 marks), behind Brain Dorman/Lewis Boyd in 5th (38 marks). Woods/Ragg and McKeown/McCollum went off the rails when they tried to plot a list of clock faces, arranged in a circle with no defined starting point. Woods/Ragg headed up a lane which ended with a closed gate and so finished 4th overall on 33 marks, but still won the Semi-Expert class. McKeown/McCollum covered an extra 4 miles of route before finding the first secret check, and finished 3rd on 17 marks. The Dorman's and Sheridan/Cochrane were evenly matched in the 2nd half, but the 2 marks that latter picked up in the first half turned out to be decisive, as the Dorman's ended on 7, with Sheridan/Cochrane on 8.

Hubert and Elaine Scott, on their first rally since getting married, won the Novice class, despite clouting their Peugeot 106 off a bridge on the last section and limping to the finish control. Second in this class were Paul Magowan/Adrian Park on 38 marks, with George/Stephen Wallace holding on to their lead in the class championship by finishing 3rd on 48 marks in their Ford Sierra.

Malcolm/John McQueen were the best of the Beginners, and Neil McClimmond/Ian Campbell won the Rally School class.

The Dormans now lead the championship after their customary victory in Dungannon, but with 3 rounds to go, and only 5 points separating the Dormans, McKeown/McCollum and Sheridan/Cochrane, things are far from settled just yet.

Patrick McCollum

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