As the day dawned and the mist lifted over the Achill hills the first round of the Sligo Pallets Border Championship kicked off in style last Sunday. The early stages were challenging due to overnight rain but once the sun came out and the stages dried up the drivers got into their own rhythm and their confidence increased as the day went on.
First off the mark was Joseph McGonigle with Ciaran Geaney in their Skoda Fabia R5, despite struggling early in the morning, the team recovered in the third stage to maintain their lead for the rest of the day. Late entrant Frank Wray and Joe McNulty in their Subaru Impreza were second overall, narrowly piping Adrian Hethrington and Ronan O’Neill in a Ford Escort to the post with just split seconds between them. Recently returned from Australia, Pauric Duffy with Kevin Glynn in their Ford Fiesta R5 (class5 ) had a good day out, they challenged McGonigle all day and were in the lead for the first loop of stages. Their luck was short lived and after a drive-shaft broke which caused a spin they dropped to sixth place but gradually climbed back up and gained two places by stage five. They finished the first Mayo and District Motorsport Club members to take the Margaret McGreal Perpetual Cup.
In fourth position overall were Pat Donegan and Alan Kenna in a Ford Escort Mk 2, they also claimed first place in class 14. Mayo navigator Andrew Grennan took teammate Vivian Hamill home to second place in their class and seventh overall. Monaghan’s Mickey Conlon who is no stranger to the Mayo Stages with his navigator Martin Byrne took first in class 13 and were sixth overall in their Ford Escort Mk 2. James Mc Greal and Chris Mitchell in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6, continued their success of 2016 and claimed first place in class 15 and 33rd overall in their first outing of the year.
Racing to success
John Duffy and John Egan in their Honda Integra had a relatively trouble free day, an early encounter with a stray ditch did not upset their day too much as they crossed the finish ramp with a second in class three and 32nd overall. Local man Brian Lavelle and his navigator Darren Curran were very unlucky when gearbox trouble in their Honda Civic forced them to retire after the first stage on home turf. Foxford duo Stephen Doherty and Alan Moran in their Subaru Impreza (class 15 ) were troubled from the start with a misfire and despite their best efforts in first service they were unable to fix the problem and retired on stage three.
Belmullet’s Ciaran Kennedy and Killala’s Paddy O’Hora, in their maiden voyage with their blue mark 2 Ford Escort, had a good day and after a number of small issues which were sorted by their mechanical team in service, they were back on track and came home third in class 12 and 37th overall. David Moran and John Sweeney finished third in class 10 and were 46th overall in their Citroen Saxo. After an electrical fault put them out of Birr last week, Ronan Denning and Karl Egan enjoyed their second trip out in a Peugeot 106 cup car, coming first in class two and 35th overall.
Trisha Greevey with navigator brother Brendan in their Honda Civic claimed fourth in their class, 43rd overall, and took home second place Mayo & District Club award. Her other brother Terry and his navigator Martin Hastings were not as lucky when they made contact with a stone at the end of stage one bringing their Peugeot 106 to a sudden halt, ending their day but thankfully escaping with nothing more than minor damage to their car.
Liam Walsh was on the notes for Florin Niedermueller in a Toyota Corolla and they finished seventh in class 11R and 25th overall. Father and daughter team Pat and Shauna McEveney had a good day in their Toyota Corolla GTI. They had a bit of a moment on stage four when a bump tried to end their day, however they recovered nicely and went on to finish the event and came home fifth in their class, 45th overall, and took home third place in the Mayo and District Club awards.
Young jetsetter Lorcan Moore, just off the plane from navigating in the Malcolm Wilson Rally the previous day in Cumbria, was back on duty with Shane Buckley in his class 13 Honda Civic. Unfortunately after climbing to seventh place after the first two stages, they had a disappointing end to their rally weekend when they clashed with a chicane on stage three. But they did not go home empty handed as Shane Buckley took home the Eddie O’Hora award for the fastest Mayo and District driver on stage one.
Another clubman who had a good day out was Ed Muldoon who navigated for Derek Jobb in a Mitsubishi Evo 9, they finished second in class four and 36th overall. Colm Connor and James Connor finished third in class 11F and 41st overall in their Toyota Corolla GTI. Well done to Keith Jacob and Michael Carr who took first place in the Mayo and District club awards in their Honda Civic, they came fourth in class 16 and 36th overall.