Bushwacker Rally at Forestry Regions

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<div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″>Brian McGillin and David Doherty emerged with victory in their arms at last weekend’s Omagh based McGillin Bushwhacker Rally, when they brought their Hyundai Accent WRC over the finish ramp five seconds clear of Stephen Moore and Tony McHugh!</font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″> </font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″>It was Moore who took another maximum points haul in the Pacenotes series though, as McGillin is not registered for the championship. The result bolstered his chances of lifting a maiden N.I. series success, after his main title rivals, Glenn Allen and Damien Connolly, finished in a lowly seventh position. </font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″> </font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″>It could have been worse for the struggling Allen though, as he still picked up third placed championship points. His day was fraught with gearbox troubles, and the Cookstown man was forced to complete three stages with just first and second gear.</font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″> </font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″>"It was a real good event, but a terrible day for us," Allen rued. "We lost four gears on the third stage, so we had to complete stages four, five and six with just first and second gear. The boys in service changed the ‘box but we had already lost 1 minute 40 seconds, so it was all over."</font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″> </font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″>The third stage also proved disastrous for local man, Robbie McGurk. Navigated by Shaun Lafferty, they were caught out on a fast section of road. Their Subaru Impreza WRC got out of shape after a small dip in the road, sending the car on to the grass and into a tree stump at almost 100mph.</font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″> </font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″>The car was thrown into the air, before coming to rest on its roof. Both occupants escaped the car unscathed but the stage was stopped and McGurk was taken to hospital as a precaution. Thankfully, he was released the following day with no serious injuries.</font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″> </font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″>McGurk was also joined in hospital by Metro 6R4 pilot, Craig Bennett. Navigated by Alan Shiladay, they went off the road on stage one. Their car went ‘light’ on a six-right over crest, leaving Bennett struggling to get the brakes on for the next corner. He went off the road and hit a tree stump, and was later diagnosed in hospital with fractured vertebrae.</font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″> </font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″>The incident will put Bennett out of action for at least three months, but he is back home and in good spirits. Incidentally, he also provided free sandwiches for all marshals on the day, but unfortunately the rally officials later had to apologise after leaving them in a refrigerator!</font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″> </font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″>Meanwhile, at the head of the field, Brian McGillin had taken a healthy lead from Stephen Moore, with Sean Devine in third. It was Moore and Devine who shared the rally lead after stage one, before both men were overhauled by McGillin. Second placed Moore was having a difficult day, as his steering rack had been causing problems from the opening stage.</font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″> </font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″>"When we moved on to the start line of stage one, the steering rack was very stiff when I turned left," Moore said. "So for the first six stages before service, I had to be really careful. I couldn’t commit to any left hand corners."</font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″> </font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″>That failed to stop the Pomeroy man from mounting a charge, and despite his troubles, he arrived at first service just three seconds in arrears of McGillin. Sean Devine and Damien Duffin were also in the hunt and held third position, just three seconds adrift of Moore. Their rally was set to come to a premature end though, as gearbox troubles forced them out of the event after service.</font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″> </font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″>Devine’s retirement left a two-way battle for the lead, with McGillin and Moore going head to head over the final six stages. The Focus WRC pilot knew he didn’t need to win the event, as he was on course to claim maximum points for the Pacenotes championship. The temptation of another potential rally victory was too much to resist though, and he mounted a charge in a bid to overhaul McGillin.</font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″> </font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″>Moore was fastest on stage seven by one second, only for McGillin to return the favour on the following test. Then Moore hit trouble on stage nine, stalling his Focus and losing nine seconds to the rally leader. It was the breath of fresh at that McGillin needed, and two fastest times for Moore during the closing miles were not enough to snatch victory from McGillin’s grasp.</font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″> </font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″>"It was an absolutely brilliant rally!" McGillin enthused. "We had a bit of a scare on the third stage with a collapsed bearing in the gearbox, which holds on to the propshaft. Thankfully, it held on until service and we had no problems after that."</font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″> </font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″>"The competition was very hard," McGillin continued. "Anybody in the top five could have won that rally. I was shocked at how good the event and the competition were. The pace in the Northern Ireland Championship is serious, everyone has really moved up a gear during the last couple of years." </font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″> </font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″>Stephen Moore and Tony McHugh had to settle for second on this occasion, but they were safe in the knowledge that they had another maximum score to their names. With dropped scores now coming into play, they trail Glenn Allen by one point in the championship standings, so everything is to play for over the final two events of the season.</font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″> </font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″>Third overall went to Raymond Johnston and Richard Bell in their newly acquired Subaru Impreza WRC. After a few months layoff, they had a short and not so sweet return to the series at the Fisher Engineering Lakeland Stages Rally just a couple of weeks ago. Their Impreza went off the road near the start of stage one at the Lakeland event, but the McGillin Bushwhacker Rally was more fruitful for the pair. Third overall was a just reward for the duo, as they continue to acclimatise to their new mount.</font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″> </font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″>Outside the top three, Peter McCullagh and Sean Ferris emerged victorious in the Sunoco Fuels sponsored Group N category. They finished fourth overall in the process, two seconds in front of Kevin O’Kane and Martin Brady, while Raymond Mason and Peter Martin came home in sixth.</font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″> </font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″>Glenn Allen and Damien Connolly recovered from their earlier gearbox troubles to take seventh. It was a damage limitation exercise for Allen, and with only two championship registered competitors in front of him, he still managed to claim third placed championship points.</font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″> </font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″>Seamus Leonard and John McCaffrey returned to the woods and placed their Mitsubishi Lancer in a fine eighth, while Adrian Hetherington and Gary Nolan topped the Superdrive two wheel drive class with an excellent run to ninth ahead of Damien Tourish and James McNulty.</font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″> </font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana”><font size=”1″><strong>Round nine – FM Contracts Down Rally</strong> </font></font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″>The penultimate round of the Pacenotes series takes competitors to Newcastle for the FM Contracts Down Rally. This year’s event sees the headquarters move to King’s Inn, Castlewellan, with service based at Castlewellan Forest Park. With seven stages covering 38 miles, the action is due to kick off on Saturday 20 October. More information is available from www.nirally.com</font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″> </font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana”><font size=”1″><strong>McGillin Bushwhacker Rally – top 10 results</strong> </font></font></div><div align=”left”><font face=”Verdana” size=”1″>1 Brian McGillin/David Doherty (Accent WRC) 39m 30s
2 Stephen Moore/Tony McHugh (Focus WRC) 39m 35s
3 Raymond Johnston/Richard Bell (Impreza WRC) 41m 13s
4 Peter McCullagh/Sean Ferris (Lancer Evo 7) 41m 30s
5 Kevin O’Kane/Martin Brady (Impreza WRC) 41m 32s
6 Raymond Mason/Peter Martin (Lancer Evo 9) 41m 40s
7 Glenn Allen/Damien Connolly (Corolla WRC) 41m 47s
8 Seamus Leonard/John McCaffrey (Lancer Evo 8.5) 42m 09s
9 Adrian Hetherington/Gary Nolan (Escort Mark 2) 42m 34s
10 Damien Tourish/James McNulty (Lancer Evo) 42m 36s</font></div><p align=”left”>
<font face=”Verdana” size=”1″>All images are available to purchase by emailing [email protected]</font>

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Graham is a professional photographer and motoring writer with over 15 varied years of coverage from manufacturer press launches to international motorsport and rally events throughout the world. Graham is a full member of the Guild of Motoring Writers. See more at grahamcurry.com

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