2008 Orchard Rally Report

19 September 2008

Gary Sheridan and Lloyd Cochrane won North Armagh Motorcycle and Car Club's Orchard Rally. After our dreadful summer, the rally was held on an unusually pleasant evening. The twenty-one crews embarked on an 85 mile route that was, as ever in Armagh, tight and twisty and hard work for driver and navigator alike. The rally HQ was moved this year further north to Loughgall, and used a route that brushed the M1 in the north and visited the outskirts of Armagh and Markethill in the south.

The winning margin was 1 mark for the second rally in a row, although after scraping home victorious last time, Willie McKeown and Patrick McCollum trailed the winners by the single score on this occasion. Sheridan/Cochrane led throughout, immediately opening a gap to McKeown/McCollum on the first section when the circular herringbone baffled the championship leaders. By the break, Sheridan/Cochrane were on 3 to McKeown/McCollum's 10. The next two sections were cleaned by both leading crews, but McKeown/McCollum dropped another 3 marks when a not as map junction caused confusion. After this the momentum appeared to switch cars, as Sheridan/Cochrane started to drop time on every section. With four sections to go, their lead was 10. Then it dropped to 7, then 4, and by the time they started the last section, it was 3. As can often happen, the last section takes a while to plot. Alan Dorman was the marshal at this point, and the multiple champion was able to watch on (and probably laugh) as Lloyd and Patrick attempted to work out map references that had been coded using the alphabet backwards. Even though McKeown/McCollum started this section one minute later than Sheridan/Cochrane, they got moving first, and they led through both secret checks to close the gap to 1 single mark. But the rally was over and Sheridan/Cochrane won the Orchard Rally for the second consecutive year, while McKeown/McCollum were runners up for the fourth consecutive Orchard Rally. It was the Proton crew's second win this year, and with their first win being in Fermanagh, both crew members won their home rallies this year.

Second place on this rally gained Willie enough points to ensure he retains the title of Navigation Rally Champion Driver for another year.

The only other Expert crew was Clifford Auld/John Lindsay, but they had a short rally. After a promising start, they came to a part of the route that went over a crest followed by a downhill square left. They had no problem with the crest, but the same couldn't be said for the square left. Their Triumph 2.5Pi was lodged deep in the hedge and they were out.

Leslie and Gareth Hawe were in contention for the overall win during the first half, reaching the break on 10 marks, but a disastrous second half saw their total soar to 162, which was still enough to beat David and Kyle Preston for the semi-expert class win. John and Jonathan Henderson, who live no more than 200m from the rally HQ, did not finish after alternator failure.

Brian and Victoria Black appeared for the first time this year, and won with quite a comfortable margin. They have no plans to come out for any more rounds either, as Victoria heads off to university in England. Second in the class were Raymond and Gareth Deazley, ahead of Clive Latimer, who had the Clerk of the Course for the next round, David McElroy, navigating for him. Championship leaders, Neil and Rebecca Fletcher had an off night, where in one section they missed one secret check and visited another twice!

Richard and Mark Hughes were the best of the Beginners, beating Arnold Lutton and Tom Young by 11 marks, and Ian and Aaron Johnston by 24.

Patrick McCollum


Posted by PMcCollum on 20/9/2008; Last updated by PMcCollum on 20/9/2008