A29 Targa Rally Report

14 September 2019


Trevor Makes It Two In A Row.


Coagh driver Trevor Ferguson, partnered by Padraig McAtamney, took the win on the Cookstown Motor Club Finch Retailing Targa Rally in a Mazda MX5.  As last year’s winner of this event he was the No1 seed and as such was the first car away from the A29 Filling Station, and into the 18 tests, run as three laps of six. 


The main opposition on the day was expected to come from Christopher Evans and Laney Fitzpatrick from Wicklow, and that was exactly how it turned out.  Christopher would finish up in second place by just 10 seconds after an afternoon of sparkling times trying to recover from an early error at the Loughry College test.


Third place overall would go to Stuart Annesley from Holywood, with Dromara’s Stephen Jess calling out the directions, some 43 seconds behind Evans.  Douglas and William Reid from Ballynahinch were running in the top three for the first two loops but a failed rear suspension forced their retirement on the third run through the tests.


The big story of the first loop was at Loughry College where a long series of manoeuvres had to be performed, and here Christopher Evans lost track of where he was in the test and had to stop to check.  The hesitation cost him thirty four seconds to a charging Trevor Ferguson.


In the Expert Class for front wheel drive cars, Frank Lenehan and David Johnston held a 46 second lead over Stewartstown’s Norman Ferguson after six tests, thanks in part to a pylon fault for Norman early on, and then a fatal error on the Loughry test costing him a maximum time.  On the second loop Norman and navigator John Nicholl Sr. would reduce this deficit to just 4 seconds, and then overhaul the Sandyford driver by the finish to take the class win and 14th place overall.


The Semi-Experts class for front wheel drive saw Dungannon’s Darrell and Jordan Burns fast out of the traps in their Ford Fiesta and lead the class by 14 seconds after the first loop.  Chasing them were Robert and Peter Haslett in a Toyota Yaris, and on the second loop they reduced the deficit to the Burns brothers to just 9 seconds.  On the third loop, the Hasletts really got into their stride and snatched the lead by the finish.  Such was the pace of this Semi-Expert battle that they finished in 5th and 6th places overall.


Cookstown’s Robin Pitts and Gareth Henry put in a mature performance to take the honours in the Semi-Expert rear wheel drive category in their Toyota MR2, and beat all but three of the Experts to take 4th place overall. Over 50 seconds behind them were Gerard and Rachel Hughes from Belfast in a Mazda MX5.  Cookstown’s Eric and Suzanne McIvor were 4th in this class in their Mazda MX5, and finished just outside the top 20.


There were only four Novice crews using front wheel drive cars and Moira driver Jim Allen took a fine win in his Renault Clio, over 30 seconds ahead of the Cookstown pair, Matty and Josh McAdoo in a Ford Fiesta.


As usual, the biggest class of the day was Novice drivers in rear wheel drive cars, mostly in Mazda MX5s.  Early leaders in this class were Harry Johnston and Ashley Boulton, trailed closely by George McMillen and James Johnston, both crews in Mazdas.  After the first loop of six tests, Johnston and Boulton were in 6th place overall - a fantastic performance for a Novice crew.  On the second loop, McMillen turned the wick up a bit and turned a two second deficit into a two second advantage, and a lead he would hold to the finish.


Rallying is often a tale of what might have been, and Christopher Evans could be excused for thinking that.  Setting fastest time on 13 of the 18 tests would look like enough for the win, but consistency and lack of mistakes is usually the key to the win.  Trevor Ferguson showed his class at Cookstown and was worthy winner of the event for the second year in a row.


Posted by PMcCollum on 23/9/2019; Last updated by PMcCollum on 23/9/2019