Photo by James Jordan
A happy hunting ground in recent years for club members has been the Midland Moto Stages Rally based generally around Roscommon town, this year would see the rally makes it debut on the new look Triton Showers National Championship.
With a number of crews taking the start including previous winner of the event and currently leading the 2 wheel driver championship Chris Armstrong and James Fulton would be looking to keep building on their success from the first round in Birr. With stern opposition they would pick up where they left off on the last round by driving the wheels off the CA Event Hire Escort, They never released their grip on the class 13 lead all day and started to take the fight to the bigger cars in the overall section. At first service they were just 14 seconds behind a charging Gary Mc Phillips in his Millington powdered escort. Back in 3rd place in a similarly Millington mounted escort was Bailieborough man Jonathan Pringle with Martin Byrne on the notes. Jonathan was in a rebuilding phase after a troublesome run in Birr but with the conditions a little dryer he could really stretch the legs of his mark 2. Through the middle loop and Armstrong was still pushing hard to eek out a 28 second gap over Pringle and try to stay in touch with Mc Phillips with the 3 escorts now breaking their way into the top 10and beating a collection of much more powerful cars to boot.
Heading into the final stages and it was business as usual for Armstrong and Fulton who were still in 7th place overall behind Mc Phillips. Pringle and Byrne had fallen behind Kevin Barrett in his WRC Subaru but were starting their fight back through the final stages to get back ahead of the Subaru. Going into the last stage the gap was under 5 seconds so it was time to act. Going through the stage 8 seconds faster than Barrett they turned a 4 second deficit into a 4 second lead to come home 7th overall and to finish 2nd in class 14. For Armstrong a big moment on the final stage nearly spelled disaster when the car mounted a wall with the back left wheel arch and quater suffering ill fate from the incident but fortunately the tyre stayed inflated and the crew got to the end to finish the day as class 13 winners and 5th overall.
Another crew in class 13 was that of Paul Clarke and Phillip Mc Entee who were making their return to action after the winter lay off. A steady start from the pairing saw them lying 5th in class and 32nd overall as they dialled back into the pace. A mechanical issue on stage and 3 blighted their progress as they dropped back to 11th in class and 42nd overall. after first service and with the issues rectified they began a big push back up the leader board with some good times that would help their cause but with the time loss in the morning it was a tough slope to climb back up. The end result for them was 6th in class and 25th overall.
Another crew to suffer from technical maladies was the class 20 Lancer of Stephen Mc Cann with Killian O’Reilly on the notes. Stage 1 was the only relatively clean run that the pairing had finishing the stage 3rd in class and 17th overall but after that they were forced to chase issues with the car for the rest of the day. They eventually finished 6th in class and 77th overall.
Another crew to have a tough day in the office was that of Russell Woods and Pauric Sheridan in their mark 2 escort. They started the day steadily by posting a time good enough for 8th in class and 35th overall after the first stage. They upped their pace for the rest of the afternoon and moving up the leader board to 4th in class and 19th overall before pulling out after the second service due to an incurable technical issue with the car. A good pace was shown that would keep the crews moral up ahead of the next day out though.
For class 12 stalwarts James Cassidy and Declan Smith it was business as usual as the pair started the day leading the class and in 41st overall, a few blips and a slight delay over the following stages saw the crew drop to 55th overall before starting a charge back up the field again to finish out the day trouble and damage free with the class win and 36th overall.
In the competitive class 11F it was Chris Snow JNR with Sean Brunton on the notes who are always there or there abouts when it comes to the talent and pace required to keep in front of this class. With a redeveloped engine and new development gearbox fitted during the winter months it was proving to be an exciting year so far for the pairing. 2nd in class and 46th overall was a good steady start to the day for them looking to chase down the hard charging Eddie Peterson. As the morning progressed they managed to take the lead of the class on stage 4 and take up 45th overall. The battle continued before 2nd service with the pair dropping back down to 2nd in class before service and then dropping off the leaderboard after service with a mechanical failure on the car spelling an early bath.
Possible one of the coolest cars out there at the minute is the Escort Cosworth of Paul Mc Cann who had Patrick Plunkett on the notes. The A Plus Skip Hire car with the crew looking for a good steady run to the finish they started well with 4th in class and 54th overall. As the day progressed they would up their overall pace and keep it on the island to climb back up to 35th overall at the finish and more miles on the clock.
Another Pinto man was Kevin Cole with Matthew Kirwan on the notes. It was a relatively short day for the pairing as they were 3rd quickest in class on stage 1 only to be caught out on a very deceptive square left at the end of stage 2 and left the road into a field and damaged the suspension too badly to continue any further.
In the Juniors it was a competitive day with a couple of crews who were well able to win the Juniors outright on the day. One of these crews were Darren O’Brien with John Mc Cabe on the notes in their Civic they would be up against Gary and Breen Mc Namee. With the scene set it was time to watch the action unfold as it was Mc Namee who took first blood with a 2nd fastest time over the opener behind James Bradley with O’Brien 3rd. On the following stage it was just 5 seconds that sepperated O’Brien who was still behind Mc Namee. With the weather changing as the day went on it made for tricky driving. As the day went on O’Brien then swooped and took the lead after Mc Namee hit a Bank and lost some time and as the day went on it was O’Brien who would mind the gap and keep the pace up to ensure he kept a comfortable 2nd place by the end of the day and good points haul. Mc Namee aswell would have been glad of the points haul after a troubled day in Birr also on the first round.