Another successful year’s rallying for Mayo and District Motorsport Club

Hard driving: Ciaran Walsh and Aidan Gannon - second and first respectively in class 2 on the Dunlop National Rally Championship, and runners-up on the McAree Engineering Border Rally Championship.

Hard driving: Ciaran Walsh and Aidan Gannon - second and first respectively in class 2 on the Dunlop National Rally Championship, and runners-up on the McAree Engineering Border Rally Championship.

With the motorsport season drawing to a close for another year, Mayo and District Motorsport Club members have once again upheld local honours, winning overall and class awards on some of the major international and national rally championships. On the international scene, Kiltimagh’s John Higgins has been competing on the Tesco 99 Octane British Rally Championship. With one round of the series still to run, John, who co-drives for Cork’s Brian O’Mahony in a Renault Clio Super 1600, holds a comfortable class lead in the rally three category, while the pair are also featuring strongly in the overall championship table.

Reigning National Rally Champions Aaron MacHale and Killian Duffy took part in selected rounds of the Global Group Irish Tarmac Rally Championship in 2008. Despite missing some events, the Ford Focus WRC crew finished fifth and fourth overall respectively on what is the premier rally series in this country.

The 2008 Dunlop National Rally Championship once again saw a strong participation from local competitors. Second overall in the series went to Claremorris co-driver Paul McLoughlin. Partnering Monaghan’s Niall Maguire, the former multiple champions had a very consistent year, taking victory in Cavan and a number of second place finishes, before eventually conceding the title to rivals Patrick Elliott and Paul Goodman.

Other Mayo competitors to claim class awards on the National Rally series included Knockmore/Ballina pairing Kenneth McHale and Derek McCarthy who once again claimed victory in class 1 in their Toyota Yaris. In class two, young Ballinrobe pilot Ciaran Walsh and Tubbercurry navigator Aidan Gannon put in some fine performances against strong opposition in their Honda Civic, Ciaran finishing second in class, and Aidan going one better to take class victory. In class seven John Duffy proved that what son Killian can do he can match, the Crossmolina man and co-driver John Egan taking category honours in their Opel Astra. Rounding up the local winners was Castlebar’s Gerry Casey who, together with co-driver Vincent Collins from Roscommon, claimed third in the very competitive class 13 in their Ford Escort Mark Two.

The popular McAree Engineering Border Rally Championship shares some of the same events as the National Championship, and therefore it was perhaps no surprise that many of the same competitors also achieved success in this class-based series. Class one honours went to Kenneth McHale and Derek McCarthy, while Ciaran Walsh and Aidan Gannon were runners-up in class two. John Duffy and John Egan finished third in class seven, while Paul McLoughlin won the co-driver’s category in class eight.

Among the individual performances of note during the year, special mention must go to Williamstown brothers Mervyn and Derek Deane, who took their Ford Escort Mark Two all the way to Belgium in September. Competing on the Tour of Flanders International Rally, they not only finished 26th overall out of 61 finishers, but came second in their class , a very impressive result in what was their first ever overseas event.

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