McHugh Conquers Kerry
Bekan man Sean McHugh and Co-Driver Niall Morley took a respectable 38 place overall on the 2010 Banna Mini Stages Rally Co. Kerry. The two Mayo & District Motorsport Club members were the sole Mayo competitors to tackle the tough event on the Kerry coast.
After a long drive to Kerry and an uneventful recce of the stages on Saturday, the team took an early night in preparation for the gruelling rally the following day. A reasonable eleven o clock rise on Sunday morning allowed the more social competitors a sleep-in but Sean, Niall and the team were up early and ready for road.
This is the second time that Niall has navigated for Sean and the pairing seems to have really hit it off gaining confidence and speed with every stage. It has been an unlucky year for Sean who didn’t finish five out of seven events that he started due to mechanical issues, so he was really hoping for a good result in Kerry to finish the year on a high point.
Unfortunately Lady Luck was not on their side, as on the road section to the first stage the car developed a misfire. This was a disastrous occurrence. They crawled through the first eleven-kilometer test losing buckets of time on their rivals in the process.
The wounded BMW limped back to the first service in Ardfert where the team descended on it to try and rectify the problems. The short twenty-minute service was too short however and the team could not cure all the cars ailments.
Even though the car was slightly better the pair found themselves running well down the order among slower competitors and this further hampered them as they were held up. A reasonable time through the second and third stage saw them claw back some valuable places on the leader board. This was not helped by an uncharacteristic mistake by Sean that saw the pristine BMW mount a Kerry ditch, with minimal damage but some time loss.
They arrived at the second service halt in 40 place overall, a remarkable achievement in the face of great adversity. Luckily the team was able to diagnose the problem with the engine and rectify it inside the allotted time. It was all too late for Sean and Niall, with only one stage remaining they would not be able to make sufficient time back on their rivals.
But with the car now in perfect condition the Mayo men blasted off the start line of the final stage with a point to prove. Within a short number of kilometers they caught and passed a slower competitor. They pressed on as fast as they dared catching and passing another car before the end of the end of the stage. The glorious sounding BMW echoed between the Kerry hedgerows as Sean wrestled with the steering, the powerful car difficult to handle in the wet and slippery conditions.
The sterling drive on the final stage saw them climb another two places on the leader board to a admirable 38 overall considering all the mechanical maladies it begs the question what could have been?
Sean and Niall were quite happy at the finish of the event, relieved to have finished as it had been a tough day of rallying, “The stages were very slippery, it was a pity about the mechanical problems but that’s rallying!”
It was quite a successful trip for the Mayo men as they claimed 5 in class and 38 overall. Sean would like to thank his dedicated team, and Niall Morley who guided him excellently between the ditches on the stages.
Mayo Competitors Claim Class Awards On Sligo Rally
Ambrose Gaughan / Derek Molloy and David Carney / Ray Fitzpatrick upheld local honour on Sunday’s Sligo Stages Rally, both crews recording top finishes in their respective classes.
A large Mayo contingent descended on Sligo for the popular event, round 7 of the Dunlop National Rally Championship and round 5 of the HASS Border Championship. The rally was won by Welsh visitor Melvyn Evans to add to his success on the Mayo Stages Rally earlier this year. Niall Maguire and Kevin Barrett finished second and third respectively.
Driving a Toyota Corolla, Ambrose Gaughan from Foxford and his co-driver Derek Molloy from Lahardane were victorious in class 9 for their second successive event. The pair finished in 32nd place overall.
Young Augagower driver David Carney put in a very strong performance to finish 35th overall and take second in class 6 in his Citroen C2R2 Max. After problems on the opening stage where he dropped well over a minute to the class leaders, he recovered well to finish only seven seconds behind the eventual category winner, taking 35th place overall.
Despite having no brakes for the last few stages Derek Bolton from Ballaghadereen and his co-driver Trevor O’Connnell managed to bring their Subaru Impreza home safely in 70th place overall. Also recording a finish was Killala navigator Fergal Loughney who co-drove steered the Honda Civic of Pauric McGee to 66th overall and 5th in class 2.
Among those who failed to see the finish flag were Mervyn Deane and Trevor Burke from Williamstown who retired with propshaft problems on their Escort. A broken wishbone caused the demise of Sean McHugh and John Rowland after stage seven, but the Bekan / Crossmolina pairing were encouraged with their stage times up to that point. Marcus Molloy from Crossmolina and Aidan Gannon from Tubbercurry had been going well until an off on stage five, while other local retirements included Keith McFadden / Brian Harrington, Barry Cuffe / Jason Flynn, Adrian and Aidan Fahy and Kieran Kennedy / Paul McGinnis.
Murphy Claims Top Prize On Galway Grass Autocross
Sixteen year old Noel Murphy from Shrule put in a remarkable performance on last week-end’s Galway Grass Autocross event held at Craughwell. Driving a one litre Nissan Micra with support from West Tyre Ballinrobe and Shrule, the young Mayoman recorded the fastest time of the day on Saturday for a saloon car. Putting the skills he developed last year when he won the National Junior Autocross Championship to good use, Noel made the most of the slippery conditions to defeat many far more experienced drivers in more powerful machinery.
With drier conditions on the second of the two day event, the advantage was back with the more powerful cars, but another strong performance saw Murphy almost claim another win, narrowly losing out to the Honda Civic of Cathal Leonard by a mere 0.24 seconds.
Mayo Competitors Win Drive of the Day on Cavan Rally
Ambrose Gaughan from Foxford and his Lahardane co-driver Derek Molloy put Mayo rallying firmly in the spotlight on Sunday by clinching the prestigious HASS Border Rally Championship Drive of the Day Award on the Cavan Stages Rally.
Competing in a Toyota Corolla, they won the award by being the fastest competitors in class 9 on special stage 4 of the rally, round five of the Dunlop National Rally Championship, and round 3 of the HASS Border Rally Championship.
Presented at each of the six rounds of the 2010 Border series, the HASS Drive of the Day Award is a very popular and highly competitive challenge within the overall rally.
A class and a special stage are selected at random before the start of the event, with the winners being the fastest competitors in the class on that stage to subsequently finish the rally.
John Duffy, registrar of the Border Rally Championship congratulates Ambrose Gaughan and Derek Molloy on winning the HASS Border Rally Championship Drive of the Day Award.
Not that Ambrose and Derek had been too focused on winning the award as they tackled the stage. Moygownagh native Derek recounts “We were just concentrating on improving our times from the opening run. It was only when we realised that we had taken twenty seconds off our time from the first run over the stage that we remembered that it was counting towards the Drive of the Day.”
Their time of ten minutes forty seconds proved to be second fastest in the class, the indecently rapid Mini of Lloyd Hutchinson and Kevin Flanagan setting the category benchmark. But to finish first, first you have to finish as the old adage goes, and as Ambrose and Derek arrived back at rally headquarters the Hotel Kilmore, it was to find that their rivals had fallen by the wayside. It meant the Mayo duo found themselves joining rally winners Tim McNulty and Paul Kiely on the finish ramp where they were interviewed by compére Doughie Hughes and presented with their Drive of the Day trophies. And to complete a successful day’s rallying Ambrose and Derek also won class 9 on the rally by a comfortable margin of almost one minute.
…..for more news on Cavan Stages Rally 2010 go to Cavan Stages Rally 2010.
A delighted Ambrose Gaughan and Derek Molloy arrive back at rally finish to find they have won the HASS Border Rally Championship Drive of the Day Award.
Ambrose and Derek are presented with their trophies by Brenda Flynn representing the Border Rally Championship Committee.
Cavan Stages Rally 2010
Other Mayo & District Motorsport Club members had varying levels of success in Cavan. Williamstown’s Mervyn Deane and Trevor Burke overcame brake and fan belt problems to bring their Escort home safely in 19th overall position and sixth in class 13. Killala’s Fergal Loughney co-driving for Pauric McGee had been as high as first in class 2 but the pair lost over four minutes trying to get past another stricken car on stage 6 pushing them down to 72nd overall and 6th in class. Happier times though for Chrystal Culkeen from Castlebar who co-drove Donegal’s Eamonn McCafferty to second in class 5 and 74th overall.
The hard luck story of the rally went to Bekan’s Sean McHugh and John Rowland from Crossmolina. After suffering a series of retirements due to mechanical failures on recent events, the pair were desperate to record a finish in the fabulous sounding BMW M3. All was on course for a morale boosting result until, mid-way through the final stage, a rear driveshaft cried enough. Cue another retirement with the finishing line in sight. So near and yet so far.
Success For Mayo Competitors on Killarney International Rally
Carrowmore-Lacken native Paul McGee is well on his way to clinching the prestigious 2010 Kick Energy Fiesta SportTrophy (FST) Ireland Championship. It follows another successful event for the Donegal based co-driver on this week-end’s Killarney International Rally. Navigating for Monaghan’s Stephen Wright, the duo took a dominant series victory in Kerry, their third successive win from the three rounds in the FST championship to date. With five rounds from six counting towards the title, Stephen and Paul are now in a very strong championship position ahead of June’s Donegal International Rally. The winners of the FST Championship will get a Ford works supported drive in the 2010 Condroz Rally, the final round of the Belgian Rally Championship.
Another Mayo competitor putting in a strong performance in a one make series in Killarney this week-end was Shane Buckley. The Ballyhaunis man is competing in the Citroen Racing Trophy championship in his C2R2 Max. Despite some problems with power steering, Shane, who was co-driven by Meath’s Thomas Maguire, was consistently on the pace throughout the event, and finished in a very creditable 3rd in the series and an impressive 13th overall. Another Mayo man, David Carney is also taking part in the championship, and the young Aughagower man brought his Citroen home safely in 22nd overall in the National section of the rally.
In the full International Rally, Mayo and District Motorsport Club’s Aaron MacHale fought back well over the closing stages in his Ford Focus WRC to claim second overall behind event winner Denis Cronin. Another Mayo competitor to make his mark was Kiltimagh’s John Higgins, who co-drove Cork’s Brian O’Mahony to 6th overall as well as finishing the highest placed two wheel drive car in their Renault Clio S1600.
Top Finish For Buckley on Midland Rally
Ballyhaunis rally driver Shane Buckley brought his Citroen C2R2 Max home in a fine 8th place overall on Sunday’s Moto Midlands Stages Rally. As well as winning class six by nearly three minutes, Buckley and co-driver Thomas Maguire from Meath were the second highest placed front wheel drive finishers on the Rooskey based event. Indeed they had been as high as 5th overall before losing time on the last batch of stages with a wrong tyre choice.
Having entered the Midland Stages as a shakedown for this week-end’s Circuit of Ireland Rally, Buckley will be confident of a strong result on the world famous Easter classic. The Circuit is the second round of the prestigious Citroen Racing Trophy Ireland Championship, and having finished 3 overall on the opening round in Galway in a lower specification C2R2, Shane has now upgraded to the more competitive C2R2 Max that the majority of his rivals are using. With the strong Midland Stages result under his belt, hopes are high for another top finish this week-end.
Also competing on the Midland Stages Rally were Ballinrobe’s Adrian and Aidan Fahy who were pleased to bring their Ford Escort safely home in 37th place overall.
Photo courtesy of Ciara Buckley.
Mixed Fortunes For Mayo Competitors In Nenagh
The Birr Stages Rally, the opening round of the Dunlop National Rally Championship (of which the Mayo Stages Rally is round two) took place at the week-end.
Two Mayo crews headed to the Nenagh based event but returned home with differing level of success. Belmullet’s Ciaran Kennedy and his Ballina co-driver Paul McGinnis brought their Honda Civic home safely in 59th position overall, and fifth in class two, scoring valuable championship points in the process.
Bekan’s Sean McHugh had a less successful day, losing a lot of time on the opening stage after stopping to change a puncture. That time-loss became immaterial however when a broken rear suspension part on his BMW M3 forced an early conclusion to proceedings after stage 3.
The rally was won by Welsh visitor Melvyn Evans ahead of Derek McGarrity. All eyes now turn westwards for the McWilliam Park Hotel Mayo Stages Rally in two weeks time.
Photos by Martin Walsh
Mayo Young Driver Championship Winner News Update
Galway International Rally Report
Eighteen year old Justin Ryan from Headford drove superbly to finish the Junior section of the Galway International Rally in a credible eighth overall. Justin who had never competed on a rally before took to it like a duck to water.It was an early start on Sunday morning for Justin and father John who was navigating in their blue Honda Civic. The pair were taking part in the Junior event which utilised the six stages that made up the Sunday loop of the rally.
It was a bad start unfortunately, as a delay on the start of the first stage saw them waiting over a half and hour to get underway. This was not good for the nerves! Finally as the stage was given the all clear Justin got the count down from his father and the pair started the experience of a life time. As this was his first time driving on a tarmac stage Justin was obviously nervous and took his time to bed into the car. With John shouting the notes Justin managed to complete the stage with no mishaps. When he reached the end of the stage he had a big smile on his face and was thoroughly enjoying the experience. “Once I got past the first corner I was away!”
However the smile would be wiped off his face on the second stage. As they started the stage Justin began to push gaining confidence in himself and the car with every kilometer. Justin takes up the story “ After about two kilometers into the stage dad called a note “200 two right over crest”. I took it flat out. Big mistake! The car became airborne and landed sideways. I just remember seeing the spectators running! We were heading towards the wall when luckily the car straightened up and we continued if only a bit slower!” A big moment certainly. The wind seemed to be knocked out of Justin’s sails as he was caught on the stage by Colm King from Tuam. Justin pulled over and Colm sped past in his Ford Escort. The moments were coming thick and fast for the pair. As Colm disappeared into the distance Justin returned to his previous rhythm. Without warning he rounded a square right to find Colm blocking the road after hitting a tree stump. Justin jammed on the brakes and slid wide hitting the bank “I thought it was all over. We hit the bank with a bang and I thought we were finished” The Civic was made of tougher stuff and shrugged off the assault with the bank.
The pair completed the rally relatively trouble free and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Justin commented at the finish “ It was the best experience of my life! A pure adrenaline buzz, I was surprised at how easy it was to drive at speed in a controlled environment. I am now completely hooked cant wait for the next event”Justin’s next rally will be his home event the Mayo Stages Rally 2010. This years event is based in Claremorris and will take place on the 14th of March.Justin would like to thank his sponsors M&R Motors Shrule, West Tyre Ballinrobe, his parents and his aunt Wini for all there support, also all his friends and anyone who were out on the stages supporting him on the day.
Success For Mayo Competitors on Galway International Rally
Mayo & District Motorsport Club member Aaron MacHale finished in a strong third overall on the Safety First Galway International Rally at the weekend. The Ford Focus WRC driver overcame a puncture early in the event to overhaul the Mitsubishi of Alistair Fisher for the final podium position on the last stage.Making it a double celebration for the MacHale family on the opening round of the Citroen Tarmac Rally Championship, Aaron’s brother Gareth clinched overall victory after a trouble-free event in his Focus WRC. He adds his name to the illustrious list of Galway International Rally winners, including his father Austin who won the event on no fewer than five occasions. Young Craig Breen from Kilkenny put in an impressive performance to take second overall in the brand new Ford Fiesta S2000.Another Mayo competitor was also tasting champagne at the rally finish. Shane Buckley from Ballyhaunis finished17th overall, but more importantly took third position on the prestigious Citroen Racing Trophy in his Citroen C2 R2, a result all the more impressive by the fact that both competitors ahead of him were using more powerful C2 R2 Max cars. Competing in the National section of the rally, David Carney from Aughagower brought his C2 R2 Max home safely in 22nd overall. In the Fiesta Sport Trophy section, Carrowmore-Lacken’s Paul McGee co-drove Monaghan’s Stephen Wright to first in the category and 19th in the overall event.Also having good rallies were John McGeehan from Williamstown and Seamus Coffey from Claremorris who brought their Subaru home in 23rd place in the National section, while 2010 Mayo & District Motorsport Club Young Driver of the Year Justin Ryan from Headford, ably navigated by dad John Paul, was delighted to finish his first tarmac rally in 8th place in the Junior section of the event.Not so fortunate were James Culliney from Bekan and co-driver Michael Loughney from Killala who set fastest time in class 12 on stage 1, but were forced to retire on the following stage after hitting a telegraph pole following brake failure.
All Set For Thrills and Spills on Galway International Rally
The 2010 rally season kicks off in earnest this week-end with the Safety Direct Galway International Rally, opening round of the Citroen Tarmac Rally Championship. The traditional season-opener has received a near capacity entry, and promises plenty of exciting action over the two day event.The recent announcement that Citroen is to be the title sponsor of the Tarmac Championship for 2010 is a major boost for Ireland?s popular international rally series. The French car manufacturer is synonymous with rallying at world level, and currently holds the FIA World Rally Championship title for manufacturers, while Citroen driver Sebastian Loeb has won the driver?s title for the past six years.Based in Oranmore, the Safety Direct Galway International Rally will get underway with a ceremonial start in the village on Friday evening, before competitors tackle nine stages on Saturday followed by another six stages on Sunday.Number one seed Gareth MacHale in his Ford Focus World Rally Car returns for another tilt at the Tarmac Championship title, having finished runner up last year. The Dubliner will face stiff competition from fellow championship regular Tim McNulty in a Subaru WRC, but both men will be keeping a close eye on the stage times of car number 3 ? that of reigning British Rally Champion Keith Cronin. The Corkman has the disadvantage of competing in a Group N showroom class Mitsubishi, but if he carries through the pace that brought him to the British title last year, he will almost certainly be in contention for overall honours.
At four is the leading Mayo & District Motorsport Club competitor Aaron MacHale who wheels out his trusty Focus WRC, while National Rally Champion Patrick Elliott and fellow national regular Kevin Barrett will be ready to pounce if the leading runners slip up. There will also be much interest in car number nine, the brand new Ford Fiesta S2000 of Craig Breen. This car, on which Ford?s world rally championship contender from 2011 will be based, recently won the prestigious Monte Carlo Rally on its debut event. Galway marks its first competitive appearance on Irish soil in the hands of the exciting young Kilkenny driver.
The Galway International Rally also plays host to a number of one-make championships, of which one in particular has significant local interest. The new Citroen Racing Trophy is open to competitors using Citroen C2 R2 and C2 R2 Max rally cars. Aimed at unearthing young driving talent, it offers the largest prize fund of any rally championship in the country, and includes two Mayo drivers among those who will be vying for glory. Shane Buckley from Ballyhaunis had a successful season last year competing in Ford?s Fiesta Sport Trophy one-make series. Starting at number 87 in Galway in a C2 R2 he will hope to use his experience to good effect this year. Young Aughagower man David Carney seeded at 89 has less rallying miles under his belt than his fellow Mayoman, and with a new C2 R2 Max at his disposal, will be hoping primarily to bring the car home safely. With Citroen also sponsoring the overall championship, the series is sure to attract plenty of high-profile interest. And while it may be a world away, the fact that World Champion Sebastian Loeb started his career in equivalent Citroen rally cars is without doubt something of which all the competitors will be fully aware.
Other local competitors hoping for a succesful rally include James Culliney from Bekan and his Killala co-driver Michael Loughney who compete at number 82 in James? Escort Mark 2. At number 106 Williamstown?s John McGeehan and Seamus Coffey from Claremorris are in a Subaru Impreza 555, while two Mayo co-drivers are taking part in the Fiesta Sport Trophy one-make series. Paul McGee from Carrowmore-Lacken navigates Monaghan?s Stephen Wright in the number one seeded FST1, and Anthony Concannon from Westport is in the passenger seat of FST5 driven by Colm O Keefe.