With the lead up to the Hotel Kilmore Cavan Stages Rally in full swing it was time for the club members to make the short hop across to our neighbours for the Monaghan Stages Rally. With the rally being a round of the national and border championships it made for stern competition as there were some crews who were also looking for a warm up ahead of the Cavan rally this month.
Of the crews following their dreams of national championships it was Bailieborough men Jonathan Pringle and Martin Byrne who took the top spot in the Jones Engineering sponsored Escort to a well deserved class win. With the pair getting used to their new engine over the last number of months they were able to reap the benefits as they were able to keep a respectable pace against the rest of the modified runners. In the class they were busy in the morning trying to keep in touch with the local aces as they settled into 3rd in the class but were able to capitalise on the others misfortune and take a last gasp class win on the final stage. This coupled with 2nd in the 2 wheel drive standings and 8th overall was a great finish as they look to build on their championship points and get themselves fully comfortable with the car ahead of the home rally on the 24th of May.
In class 13 there was a big representation from the club with a number of drivers being at the business end of this extremely competitive class. Virginia man Chris Armstrong with James Fulton on the notes had a good battle all day against local man David Moffett. With the pair only ever separated by a handful of seconds. Going into the final stage though a sensible approach by Armstrong might have yielded a little too much caution as Moffett who put on a no holds barred attack took 2nd in the class by 5 seconds which left Chris and James a credible 3rd in class on a very tricky day. 4th in class was the Kiernan Milling Escort of Gary Kiernan and Niall Tierney, the pair who had been holding steady all day lying 4th in class from the word go yielded a good points haul for the National and Border championships with this result. 16th overall and only one and a half seconds behind Kevin Barrett in his WRC Subaru was no mean feat at the end of the day and leave them in good stead ahead of Cavan.
Mickey Conlon and Ciaran Mc Phillips although Cavan members weren’t far from home on the Monaghan stages this year. The pair had a good solid day in the office as they battled it out with Donegal man John Bonner for class position. The MC Blinds car held station as the day went on and ended up 6th in class and 21st overall. Another Bailieborough pairing in the form of Paul Clarke and Philip Mc Entee had the Lisgrey House sponsored car out and were putting it to good use as they kept pace with the group n leaders all day only to finish half a second off the Lancer of Trevor Bustard by the end of the day to finish 8th in class and 28th overall in what was a good run from the man who only has sporadic outings these days. Another pairing who have been away for a while was the Cootehill pairing of Mark Wedlock and Adam Kinkade, with a year long lay off since Cavan last year and an even longer lay off before that due to being in Austrailia Mark settled into a good pace as he dialled himself back into the pace required to just have a good showing in the super competitive class 13. As the day went on they built on their 12th in class start to finish 10th in class and 40th overall. Damien Mc Cabe was navigating for Donal Crossan in the ex Frank Kelly escort. It proved to be a short day unfortunately as they suffered mechanical gremlins after the 2nd service of the day.
In class 12 the day was all about getting match fit for the Pinto Challenge in Cavan, Thomas Wedlock took the hot seat in with Castlederg man Alan Atcheson as he tested out his new Volvo engine Escort. The engine that came from an engine development company in Sweden is said to be the new kid on the block when it comes to 2 litre 8 valve engines. Alan proved this to be the case as he upped his pace during the day to climb over 30 places on the leader board. The pair finished out the day 3rd in class in some very competitive company. James Cassidy and Declan Smith had a good run during the day as well to finish 7th in the class on a day when the changeable weather conditions made tyre choice a night mare. Such was the pace in the pinto class that there were only 9 places separating Atcheson to Cassidy on the overall standings. Not so fortunate on the day was Justin Smyth who with Lindsay Boyd on the notes was having a good run settled in 4th in class until an electrical fault stopped the car on stage 6 where it refused to restart.
In class 9 it was a tremendous 2nd place for Maudabawn man Brendan O’Reilly with Mark Hamill on the notes had a great run to lay best of the rest behind the supersonic Mini of Lloyd Hutchinson after 9 stages. The pair were pushing hard over the changeable stages where tyres were sometimes a lottery to get right. Not so fortunate was the pairing of Gene Mc Donald and Kevin Reilly who’s car ground to a hault on stage 7 after having a good run to be ahead of O’Reilly at that point.
In class 11R it was Cootehill man Gerry Mc Intyre who had son Aaron on the notes as they debuted their new Toyota Starlet. Gerry a former Clerk of the Course for the Cavan rally only makes the odd appearance these days as it is mainly “just for fun” now. A good steady run to get the car tested out ahead of Cavan yielded a good result with a finish and vital miles under the belt.
It was a Mc Cann Rallying day out in Monaghan too as there were 3 cars representing on the Aplus skip hire team. Stephen Mc Cann with Killian Reilly had a troubled day in their Lancer Evo 9 as they had to contend with sticking brakes robbing them of power amongst a couple of other little issues as the day went on. These issues stopped them from having a real good run at the leader board and they finished 4th in class and 38th overall. Stephens uncle Paul Mc Cann had his immaculate Escort Cosworth out for a run around the Monaghan lanes with Paddy Plunkett on the notes. A good solid run left them in 3rd in class and 50th overall as they built on their pace as they learn this relatively new car. In the Juniors it was Stephens sister Jenna who was continuing her foray into stage rallying as this was only her 3rd event. With her father Shay on the notes she continues to build on her pace and continues her 100% finishing record with a 12th overall in the junior section in the little 106.
In the juniors it was another tough battle played out over 6 stages, unfortunately for Darren O’Brien and John Mc Cabe the fight wasn’t to last too long as they slid wide on the exit of the last corner on stage one and hit a kerb with the rear right wheel of the Civic which bent the broke the rear suspension. This prompted an early bath for the pair as with the short sharp sprint nature of the junior events if you lose any time you are punished severely in the results.
Having a lot better day was the father son team of Gary Mc Namee with Breen on the notes, Breen yielding years of experience navigating for some of the top names in Irish rallying to keep Gary on the straight and narrow where so many others slipped off. A tough battle with Wexford man Richie Moore kept the pair on full attack up until the end of the final stage. 2nd in the juniors was their reward for a tough fight and a good handful of points for the national championship.
Not so fortunate was Ballyhaise man Adrian Foley who was navigating for Jonny Treanor, The pair were lying 6th in the juniors when they broke the differential in the car spelling instant retirement.