The final round of this year’s National and Border championships brought the crews to the hills of Donegal and more specifically to the wild Atlantic way with the fishing town of Killybegs being the headquarters for this year’s event which would take in some of the most scenic parts of the south west of the county in the Glen Columbkill area.
There were a number of Cavan crew who would make the trip in hope of securing titles in both the national and the border championships this coupled with the go for the win brigade would make for an interesting showdown to the year.
One such crew hoping to take the outright win if the conditions suited were the mark 2 escort crews of Chris Armstrong who would have Chris Melly on the notes and Gary Kiernan who along with Ryan Moore would continue to get to grips with the latest engine in his mk2 escort.
For Armstrong the weather would be beaten only by his sunny disposition as the CA event hire escort would carve out an overall 2wd lead whilst placing 4th overall over the opening stages as the fast flowing nature of the stages suited the Virginia man as he would remain the fastest 2wd into the lunchtime halt. It was full steam ahead for the afternoon loop until disaster struck when the car slid off the road and collected a telegraph pole on a gravelly section near the end of stage 7. This spelled the end of the day for the pair with the car being too badly damaged to continue on to the end.
For Kiernan it would be a day of playing himself in slowly and getting the full benefit of stage mileage with the new engine and 3rd in class over the opening stages with a place in the top 10 was good enough for the Kiernan Milling car to settle into a good rhythm with the pace building as the day went on. After the lunchtime halt Gary and Ryan made their attack on the leader board as the proceeded to climb up the standings from 8th overall and 3rd in class all the way up to 4th overall and finish out the class winner and first 2 wheel drive car home fending off the pressure from a number of local crews
In class 12 it would be a disappointing end to the day for Thomas Wedlock as he would navigate Alan Atcheson in the Pedro sponsored mk2 escort with it’s unusual combination of a Volvo engine in the fan favourites machine. The day would start well with the pair as they would sail into the class lead and hold a top 30 placing but with previous Border champion Brian Armstrong breathing down their neck the push was on to stay in front. The dash to the finish would be halted though as Alan would be caught out on a slippery braking point for a tight corner and stick the front of the escort into a bog. With a sizable amount of damage and no spectators around to help retrieve the car their day would be over prematurely.
In class 13 it would be another Wedlock representing Maudabawn with Mark driving the family Mk2 ably guided by Lois Branyan in her 2nd event on the notes. A leisurely drive around the wild Atlantic way with flashes of big speed and jumps to keep things interesting for the day. Starting the day 36th overall they would have a nice steady day before putting in a big push on the final 2 stages of the day to climb up to 29th overall before the end of the day.
In class 9 Latton man Justin Smyth with James McEneaney would resume the standard giant killing role on a Border round with the little 1400 escort being wound up to the max in a bid to beat local man Barry Mc Gill along with fellow Cavan men Damian O’Reilly and Damien McCabe in their escort. the lads would start as they mean to go on, at the front of the class battle as they would eek out an 18 second lead ahead of their rivals by the midday halt. Damian O’Reilly would be out to finish on the day and gather points to help secure their border championship class lead. 3rd place for the day would be enough to ensure they had the class win and the end of another successful year for the Maudabawn pairing. For Smyth there would be only one goal and that was the class win and a place in the top 40 at the end of the day. Going into the final stage they would hold 33rd overall but with a big push through the final stage they would take another 5 seconds out of local man mc gill and move up to finish 31st overall in one of the drives of the day in the little 1400 car.
It would be another very successful day for Oldcastle lady Jenna McCann as she would wrap up not only class 2 in the Border and the National championships but she would also be crowned the R group champion for the National also fending off a number of higher powered 4 wheel drive cars in the process. As ever on the day ably guided by John Mc Cabe the fiesta pairing would just have to finish the day to be crowned the champions so a measured approach to the stages and airing on the side of caution saw them finish 3rd in class and on the receiving end of more trophies than any person could carry home with them.
These results combined with Gary McNamee’s Junior Championship win have made it a very bright year for the Cavan crews on the national and border championship campaigns with Russell Woods also winning his class and Gary Kiernan finishing 2nd in class 13