Neighbouring Monaghan held their centre piece recently with the Monaghan Stages Rally, the event which was a round of the Sligo Pallets Border Championship this year boasted a healthy entry of top competitors including a strong representation from our own club. The event had a sunny disposition on the Saturday ahead of the start and up until the opening stage until a light drizzle dampened spirits a little and made life tricky for all competing.
This didn’t stop a great performance from the Cavan motor club crews who represented in the rally itself and marshalling also.
In the hunt for the overall placings it would Bailieborough man James Fulton who would take the hot seat once more with Monaghan man Sam Moffett as they would steer the Combilift Fiesta R5 around the lanes of west Monaghan in a bid to take their 3rd overall win together and to beat Sam’s brother Josh who would be WRC equipped for the day. The odds would be stacked heavily against the pairing with the technology differences between the WRC and R5 cars on the fast and flowing stages but this determine the pairing from putting on a brave display as they frantically tried to chase down the leading Fiesta. A fastest stage time on stage 2 wasn’t enough to bring home first place but they managed to hold Josh to a respectable distance and finish 2nd overall ahead of Niall Maguire in his WRC Subaru.
In class 14 it would be Bailieborough man Jonathan Pringle with Alan Keena on the notes who would show everyone the way home in the modified section as he performed a near clean sweep of stage times to bring the Jones Group mk2 escort home as the 2 wheel drive winner and a fantastic 4th overall after seeing off the challenges of local stars Keenan and Mc Phillips along with a raft a seriously talented drivers to take a dream result and get his border championship back on track after a poor points haul in Mayo on round 1. Not as fortunate would be Chris Armstrong with Chris Melly alongside in the CA Event Hire car, 8th fastest time on the opening stage and a good run through the second stage would end abruptly when the mk2 collided with both sides of the road crossing the finish of the stage and forcing the pairs retirement from the event.
In class 13 there would be an equally hard luck story for Gary Kiernan and Ryan Moore who would set a great pace to be the best of the 2 litre cars and hover around the top 10 for the day. With the stages being ultrafast and the domain of the 2.4 litre cars Kiernan was having to drive the wheels off the Kiernan Milling car to keep up. It all came to an abrupt end though on stage 7 when the gearbox failed and caused an instant retirement for the Bailieborough man.
Fairing out better would be Mickey Conlon and Ciaran Mc Philips in the MC Blinds escort who after a cautious start would spend the day building on their pace and battling the ever changing weather to put in a good solid performance and net 4th in class and 15h overall ahead of an array of much more powerful machinery.
Also having a good weekend of it would be Billis man Russell Woods who would have Martin Byrne on the notes in the Topline motors mk2 escort, like Conlon they would have a good start until small issues in the first service would cost them 30 seconds in road penalties dropping back to 10th in class where they would launch a charge to claw themselves back up the leader board before eventually finishing 6th in class and 18th overall.
Donal Crossan would have Ciaran Marron would have the Activ8 mk2 escort out for the run around the Monaghan stages, their progress was halted on stage 3 though when they suffered fuel pump issues. The car would be repaired and restart the event under Rally 2, this would lead them to fight back up the results to 77th overall at the end of the day.
Club member Martin Connolly would have an interesting seat for the weekend as he would partner Richard Moffett in a hired Skoda Fabia S2000 on their home stages. In what was to be a new enough experience for Moffett with 4wd and left hand drive thrown into the mix the pair were enjoying their run and getting down to it setting some decent times when an issue in first service saw the pairing loose a lot of time through road penalties. Worse was to befall the Fabia when Richard misjudged a braking point for a corner and the Fabia slid off the road at the end of stage 6 ending the day.
Also in class and also in an interesting Moffett based seat was Niall Tierney who would step up to the big leagues to partner Robert Moffett who would drive son Josh’s R5 Fiesta for the day. The day was spent increasing the pace in the Combilift Fiesta and with a marked improvement on the day that saw the pairing climb over 25 places in the overall standings Tierney was really starting to enjoy himself when the final stage of the day came around. The final result a great 3rd in class and 31st overall.
In class 12 it would be the Pedro mk2 that would find it’s way home to first in class as Alan Atcheson and Thomas Wedlock kept their heads as they battled hard all day with Brian Armstrong in their border campaign. The pair would get off to a good start and would be pushing hard to keep Armstrong within striking distance when on stage 7 Brian blotted the copybook and put his escort off the road allowing Alan and Thomas to pull back to a safe pace and see out the final two stages of the day to take full points in the class for the border.
Not having as good a day in the office were Kevin Cole and Mathew Kirwan who would fail to set a time on the opener after mechanical issues would grind the Virgina Transport car to a hault. having to restart under Rally 2 after first service they were forced to call it a day on stage 7 after more mechanical issues.
In class 9 it would be a four way fight for the win with Anthony Masterson and Tommy Clinton being the forced to bow out early when they broke the rear axle in their mk2 escort and had to call it a day. Moving into third place after that would be Barney Greenan with Ciaran Mc Gorman on the notes as they would make a return to the stages after an absence in their pristine 1400 car. Damian O’Reilly and Damien Mc Cabe would have a good clean run in the Mac Duff sponsored car to come home with a good haul of border points for their 2nd in class finish. The top prize would go to Gene Mc Donald who along with Kevin Reilly would set the stages alight in the JDS Plumbing escort, such was the pace of the little 1400 car’s run through the stages that the pairing would finish a very impressive 38th overall at the end of the day to take maximum points for the border.
In class 11R John Mc Cabe and Paul Lennon would have a disastrous start to their day as an alternator belt would snap on the opening stage would cause the car to overheat, coupled with a fuel pipe coming loose on stage 2 would also cause the crew to have to stop to refit the pipe. From there on the pairing would push on hard for the rest of the day to claw back the time lost and at the end of the day 11th in class would be little reward for a day filled with pain. Just being pipped to the post would be Terrence Mc Cabe and Jack Mc Kenna who would be out for a run out in their 1600 escort for Jack’s first day on the notes. A cautious start would see the pairing down in the hundreths after the opener but they would push on to climb back up to 12th in class at the end of the day.
In class 11F Barry Mc Ardle would put his note reading skills to the test as he would accompany Noel Conachy in his Honda Civic to a good run in class to 6th in the end of the day.
In class 2 Jenna Mc Cann would be partnered by her brother Stephen on the notes as he would aim to keep her on the road in the little Fiesta. A string of competitive times coupled with battling mixed conditions as the day went on would lead to a fine 4th in class at the end of the day. Not so fortunate were Stephen Kellett and Andrew Wedlock who would suffer terminal engine failure on stage 2 calling a halt to the day.
It was a great run in the Juniors for Darren O’Brien who would take the win with Damien Fleming on the notes in the SNS Civic after 5 tough stages where they would battle it out with Johnny Treanor. Not fairing out aswell would be John Mc Cabe and Niall Mc Gaughern who would suffer mechanical issues which would spell an early exit from the event.