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Omagh Bushwhacker Rally - (Sat) 25 Sep 10

Posted: September 28, 2010 12:49 PM - 9284 Hits

Round 8 - 2010 Northern Ireland Rally Championship

Photo: kgrallypics.com

Martin Cairns/Andrew Purcell wins McKelvey Bushwhacker Rally!

Posted: September 28, 2010 12:49 PM

Martin Cairns and Andrew Purcell secured victory at Saturday's McKelvey Bushwhacker Rally, round eight of the Hankook MSA Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship.

Cairns pounced on the number one slot after stage four when he displaced Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan from the top of the podium. Then the Strabane driver set about extending his advantage, eventually sealing the victory by eight seconds from James Gillen and Jason Harron.

Second placed Gillen had held the joint event lead after stage one with Colin Britton and Arthur Kierans, but one stage later there was another new name on top, as Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan took the advantage.

Stage three saw 15 crews either beat or equal the bogey time, so Kelly maintained his one second lead over Martin Cairns and Andrew Purcell. However, stage four told a different story, as Cairns set fastest time to move into a two second lead.

Despite some strong competition, it was a lead that Cairns would never relinquish. Navigated by Andrew Purcell, he went on to secure the McKelvey Bushwhacker Rally spoils by eight seconds in his Subaru Impreza WRC.

Donagh Kelly and James Gillen enjoyed a tough battle for second position, with Gillen moving into joint second position with Kelly after the fifth stage.

Gillen made the slot his own over the following stages, eventually finishing nine seconds ahead of Kelly, who claimed third and was the leading competitor among the Sunoco Fuels Group N crews.

None of the leading three crews were registered for Hankook N.I. Championship points. Instead, the tussle for fourth overall was also a battle for maximum championship points - and it could not have been any closer at the finish!

It was a battle between the young guns as series contenders Mark Donnelly and Stuart Biggerstaff went head to head over the forest stages. Biggerstaff had his customary slow start as he bedded himself in, but he was soon on the pace and playing catch-up to Donnelly.

10 seconds adrift of his rival after stage three, Biggerstaff and navigator Anthony Nestor mounted a huge comeback charge in their Subaru Impreza WRC. After stage seven, they were in fifth overall, just two seconds behind Donnelly.

With a number of crews beating the bogey times on stages eight and nine, battle between the two pilots resumed on stage 10. Biggerstaff was one second faster on the penultimate test, and repeated that feat on the final stage to claim joint fourth position with Donnelly.

However, it was Biggerstaff who lost out on the tie-break, as Donnelly claimed fourth overall - as well as maximum points - courtesy of his faster time over stage one. Despite his faster times over the closing stages, Biggerstaff had to settle for fifth and second placed championship points.

In the two-wheel-drive category, Vivian and Paul Hamill claimed the top spot aboard their Mark 2 Escort. They also claimed seventh overall in the process, while Frank Kelly and Liam Brennan pipped Adrian Hetherington and Gary Nolan to second among the two-wheel-drive competitors.

The Montgomery Motorsport Historic category saw Andy Johnston and Jim McSherry claimed the spoils in their Chevette HSR. They finished 38 seconds ahead of Tommy O'Connell and Sean Magee.

The Hankook MSA Northern Ireland Rally Championship is now heading towards its closing chapters. The F&M Contracts Down Rally, which takes place on 23 October, marks the penultimate round of the series.

Now a two-horse race between Stuart Biggerstaff and Mark Donnelly, the event could be pivotal in the battle for the 2010 title.


Posted: September 28, 2010 12:48 PM


Posted: September 28, 2010 12:44 PM

Back to the Grind for Wright

Posted: September 24, 2010 2:19 PM

After finishing fourth Fiesta in his prize outing on the Tour of Flanders, It’s back to the gravel of the Hankook Northern Ireland Rally Championship and the McKelvey Bushwhacker Rally for Stephen Wright. The Killyhevlin Hotel backed Fiesta Sport Trophy champion also moves back to his trusted Fiesta ST after a brief flirtation with an R2 on the Galway Summer Rally and the Belgian event. Sister Susanne is deputising for Paul McGee in the navigator’s seat this weekend as the Monaghan native looks to get his chance of securing the Hankook Junior Prize Drive back on track after rolling out of his last NI event. It will be Stephen’s third time competing on the Omagh based event and he will be looking to go one better than his second in class last year.

Speaking before the event Wright commented;
“I can't wait to get back to the Northern Ireland Rally Championship and gravel stages. I've no doubt the pace will be just as hot as it has been all year but hopefully we can be on it from the word go so we can show our speed on gravel to the Junior Prize Drive Judging Panel.”

The McKelvey Bushwhacker Rally gets underway on Saturday morning and is based in the Silverbirch Hotel in Omagh.

McCloskey's Air Assault...

Posted: September 22, 2010 2:56 PM

The youngest ever winner of the NI Rally Championship, Kilrea's Connor McCloskey, is returning to do battle on the stages after an 18 month layoff.

Just 22 when he took the title at the 2008 Townparks Rally - beating many more experienced drivers - McCloskey is one of Northern Ireland's hottest rallying prospects.

Connor will make his eagerly anticipated comeback on Saturday 25 September at Omagh Motor Club's Bushwhacker Rally, driving a DJ Rally Hire Mitsubishi Evo 9.

McCloskey has joined forces with Newtownards-based helicopter business Aero-Heli, a rapidly expanding aviation firm which offers a full range of services from helicopter hire, to pilot tuition.

"I've known Michael McGlone of Aero-Heli for some time," commented McCloskey, "and he has a big interest in rallying, having provided a lot of 'copters for the top rally men in recent times. It made sense to have Aero-Heli flying on the ground, as well as in the air!"

Bucking the recessive trend, Aero-Heli has been expanding rapidly over the last 18 months, as company spokesperson Seamus Monaghan underlines, saying,
"The helicopter business is really taking off in Northern Ireland. Currently we have 15 pilots in training, who will be flying their own machines when licensed."

"On the hire front we have a lot of business too," Monaghan continued, "from the likes of the Rivers Agency and the Forestry Commission, and we'll be opening a new airfield at Toome shortly, for customers living in that end of the country."

Helicopters and rallying have gone hand in hand for many years, and a trend that started on the World Rally Championship now sees Irish crews and fans being 'choppered' from stage to stage, saving time and enabling a greater portion of a given event to be enjoyed!

"I'll be aiming for a solid finish at the Bushwhacker," commented Connor McCloskey, "and hopefully we'll get a flyer and justify Aero-Heli's generous support!"

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Posted: September 22, 2010 1:52 PM

Regulations / Details

Posted: January 1, 2010 12:01 AM

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