Cookstown’s Glenn Allen sealed an emphatic victory at last weekend’s UAC Easter National Rally, round three of the Pacenotes Northern Ireland Rally Championship. Navigated by Damien Connolly, the crew extended their advantage at the head of the series standings with their second successive win.
More than 100 crews arrived at the start line of the Londonderry based event and faced 10 stages in the Sperrins region. Allen immediately set the pace in his Toyota Corolla WRC, and a puncture during the third stage of the closed road event failed to slow his challenge. Seemingly head and shoulders above his rivals, he surged to the top of the leaderboard, quickly establishing a substantial advantage.
In second position, Richard Cathcart and Killian Duffy had solid start in their Group N Impreza but they later rearranged the rear of their car against some solid scenery, dropping them down the order. That allowed Neil McCance and Sean Ferris into the runner-up spot, but they also hit trouble when their Lancer suffered two punctures during stage three.
The Ford Focus WRC of Stephen Moore and Tony McHugh would have moved into second, but an overshoot into a farmyard near the end of the third test allowed Raymond and David Johnston into the runner-up spot. The top three of Allen, Johnston and Moore remained constant until the end of Saturday’s opening leg, while fourth placed Neil McCance headed the Group N category.
Sunday’s stages brought little dramas for the leaders and Glenn Allen and Damien Connolly continued to extend their advantage at the top. Enniskillen’s Raymond Johnston had no answer to the flying Toyota, and when Allen came through to claim victory, he had to settle for second.
Third place was a much tighter battle between Stephen Moore’s Ford Focus WRC and Neil McCance’s Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9. The power advantage was most definitely in Moore’s favour, but Comber’s McCance was giving him a run for his money. He nipped ahead of the Pomeroy man after stage eight, only for Moore to return fire and move back in front one stage later.
McCance tried hard to regain the final podium position but with the cancellation of the final stage, he had to settle for fourth, less than one second in arrears. It was still a good result for the McCance and Ferris, as they also sealed the Sunoco Fuels Group N prize. Fifth position went to Seamus Heron and Elaine Doherty, who had a clean run in their Ford Focus WRC.
Top two wheel drive honours went to Draperstown’s Camillus Bradley and Danny O’Neill. The Mark 2 Escort exponents finished sixth overall and also secured the Superdrive cash prize for the second event in succession, while Aidan and Damien Toner brought their Escort home in seventh overall, one minute behind their rivals.
Paul Britton and Martin McGarrity finished eighth overall and second in the production category, while Geoffrey Dolan and Adrian Brolly were perhaps the surprise of the rally. Seeded at number 42, they brought their Sunbeam home in ninth overall, almost 10 seconds ahead of George Robinson and Sean Devlin, who were piloting an Escort WRC.
<strong>Round four – KBB Doors Tour of the Sperrins</strong>
Round four of the Pacenotes MSA Northern Ireland Rally Championship takes competitors into the Sperrins region once again. Based at Walsh’s Hotel in Maghera, the second closed road event of the year will take place on Saturday 19 May. More details are available from <a href=”//www.nirally.com”>www.nirally.com</a>.
UAC Easter National Rally – top 10 results
1 Glenn Allen/Damien Connolly (Toyota) 1h 24m 52.2s
2 Raymond Johnston/David Johnston (Subaru) +1m 08.3s
3 Stephen Moore/Tony McHugh (Ford) +1m 15.9s
4 Neil McCance/Sean Ferris (Mitsubishi) +0.9s
5 Seamus Heron/Elaine Doherty (Ford) +49.4s
6 Camillus Bradley/Danny O’Neill (Ford) +2.0s
7 Aidan Toner/Damien Toner (Ford) +1m07.6s
8 Paul Britton/Martin McGarrity (Subaru) +27.6s
9 Geoffrey Dolan/Adrian Brolly (Talbot) +1m49.3s
10 George Robinson/Sean Devlin (Ford) +9.9s
<em>Courtesy of Jonathan MacDonald/MediaJAM</em>