The Maiden City Motor club organised Dogleap stages rally would this year see a new trend in its running. The famous forestry rally would for this year traverse the runways and access roads of the Shackleton millatary base at Ballykelly just outside Derry. This sprint style event but with long stages would test man and machine to the limit with the added attraction of monsoon like conditions being experienced sporadically during the day.
Just two crews made the trip to the Northern Ireland Championship round in the form of Alan Atcheson in his unusual but effective Volvo engined escort who for one day only would have the navigating talent that is Mickey Conlon on the notes and sprint specialist but also all rounder Mervyn Wedlock with Damien Mc Cabe on the notes in a throw back to the 2010 tarmac championship modified cup winning combination in the baby blue escort.
Less than favourable conditions would greet the crews for the opening stages after torrential rain in the morning it would not be a day for the RWD as many crews struggled for grip on the shiney and in places flooded tarmac. 6th in class and 18th overall was a steady start for Wedlock and Mc Cabe with the Ivan Orr engined escort really struggling to get the traction on the bigger engined cars, a little less power and a good drive by Atcheson saw him lead the 8 valve class and 12th overall.
By the halfway point Mervyn Wedlock was still fluctuating around the top 20 by setting consistent times but would be still struggle to put the power down in the extremely tricky conditions. His reward for keeping it on the island would be 18th overall with 3 stages to go and with a bit of dry on he could afford to push a little harder in the closing stages.
An ambitious tyre choice and a spin on stage 4 cost the Maudabawn man alot of time and dropped way back to 27th overall. Alan Atcheson with Mickey Conlon would have a better time of it and would command the class 6 lead and 2nd two wheel drive car in the event.
And so at the finish it was to be a tough day for the Wedlock and Mc Cabe pairing with a big spin costing the pair a lot of time and ending up 25th overall. A better day all round for the Atcheson and Conlon team who would win their class, be the 4th two wheel drive car home and 9th overall. A very productive day for the new super team pairing.