It was certainly no picnic in the park last Saturday 13 October as North Armagh Motor Club held it’s popular annual Targa Rally which was once again sponsored by Ballylisk Car Sales, Tandragee.
With 80 of the best exponents from all over Ireland, specialists in this hugely popular branch of motorsport, tackling a total of 18 demanding Special Tests, all within the Country Park, a magnificent setting and location for the event; it was a fantastic tussle for the outright win throughout the day, between the top crews in the challenging weather conditions.
First off from the nearby Loughgall Football Club, event HQ, following a hearty breakfast enjoyed by all, was car no 1 and last year’s winning crew of Damien Mooney and Tony Anderson from Cookstown in their fast and nimble Citroen Saxo.
Christopher Evans from Delgany in County Wicklow and Kevin Fegan from Dublin set fastest or joint fastest times in their Toyota MR2 on 10 of the 18 special tests to win the event by 22 seconds.
Second overall and winners of Experts Class 2 were the Dungannon pairing of Eric Patterson and Raymond Donaldson in their Mazda Mx5, while third overall and 2nd in Class 2 was claimed by Douglas Reid from Ballynahinch and his co-driver Nathan Mann from Larne, also in a Mazda Mx5. Third place in Class 2 and 5th overall was taken by another County Wicklow driver, Eddie Peterson and his Dublin navigator Philip O’Reilly in their Toyota MR2.
Last year’s winners, Damian Mooney and Tony Anderson from Cookstown in their Citroen Saxo were very much in the hunt for overall honours again this year until hitting a cone on the last special test and incurring a 30 second time penalty, dropping them down to 6th place overall, but still running out winners of Experts Class 1. Runners-up in Class 1 were the County Down pairing of Matthew Mason and Chris McSherry in their Nissan Micra, while in 3rd place were the Tyrone pairing of Davis Burns and Conor O’Neill in a Ford Fiesta ST. Atbthe end of the event threse three crews were only separated by a mere 4 seconds!
Andrew Earney from County Down and his co-driver Rachel O’Boyle won Semi-Expert Class 3 in their Toyota Yaris, ahead of Mark and Alan Gillis in their Ford Puma and local father and son pairing of Jonathan and John Henderson in their Nissan Micra.
Ballynahinch’s Martin Loughran, with co-driver Nathan Mann had a great run in their Mazda Mx5 to win Semi-Expert Class 4 and finish 4th overall ahead of the County Down pairing of Angus Johnson and Mark Francis, and Chris Henry and Graeme Bailie, both crews in similar Mazda Mx5s.
Novice Class 5 winners Robin Pitts from Cookstown and Craigavon’s Declan McPhillips in their Toyota Corolla incurred a 1st test time penalty of 30 seconds but still went on to win their Class by 3 minutes from
Gary Healey and Edwin Magowan in their Peugeot 206, and Brendan Mooney Snr and Padraig McAtamney in their Vauxhall Corsa.
The County Antrim pairing of Chris Hillis and Oran Baird won Novice Class 6 by only 8 seconds from the Killyman husband and wife team of Chris and Lois Hobson, with Dromore’s Anthony Lyle and Sean McGuigan in 3rd place, all three crews in the ever popular Mazda Mx5s.
These low slung and highly manoeuvrable sports marques from Mazda and Toyota have come to dominate Targa Rally events in all classes.
North Armagh Motor Club would like to offer their sincerer thanks for the support of Ballylisk Car Sales, to Armagh City Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council for use of the Loughgall Country Park and its facilities, to DAERA and AFBI Government Departments and NI Forest Service for the use of Loughgall Country Park Estate.