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Posted: October 30, 1999 11:31 AM - 11297 Hits

by Jarlath Sweeney

In the exciting four way tie for the Four Seasons Hotel Border Championship going into the final round at the Donegal Harvest Rally, surprisingly just one crew out the four made it to the finish ramp at Bunbeg. Newry, County Down’s David Armstrong overcame many difficulties during the eight Special Stages to record 4th place overall and along with it win the coveted Derryveagh Crystal Perpetual Trophy

Posted: October 30, 1999 11:31 AM

With co-driver Herbie Blackburn, the new Border Champion encountered numerous fraught moments behind the wheel of the ex-James Cullen Ford Escort Cosworth. "It was just one big scare all day", said David afterwards. "Firstly, I was none too happy with the set up of the car for the wet conditions on these roads. Then the car stalled for some reason on a junction on Stage 4, which cost us over a minute and after that we hit wiper trouble! From then on, we upped the pace somewhat in an effort to move up the leaderboard and secure maximum points in the Border Series. We are very pleased it all paid off in the end."

While David Armstrong was heading towards the title, his main opposition fell by the wayside due to a series of mechanical problems. Long time Championship leader and pre-event favourite Glenn Allen (Cookstown) with Adrian Johnstone on the notes, suffered transmission failure with their Escort MK2 on Special Stage 4 which ended any title hopes. The two non-finishes in the previous round in Sligo and this event meant that the 2 points scored was not enough compared to the 18 achieved by David Armstrong when the tie break situation came into play in deciding the new Border Champions.

Unfortunately for Belfast’s Roger Kennedy and Paul Docherty an insufficient number of starters in Class 3 put paid to any chances of winning overall honours and with 39 points on the board, it was the classic case of so near and yet so far. As it transpired their Peugeot 306 GTi succumbed to a broken ball joint at the half way point, to add to the disappointment.

In what has been described as one of the toughest rally’s of the season for both man and machine, last years Champion, Eugene Donnelly, relinquish his crown in uncharacteristic fashion when his Escort G3 gave up the gauntlet with gearbox gremlins.

Despite leading Class 11 all season Paul Parkes’ non-appearance in Donegal cost the Sligoman the Class win and along with it the Brian McGrath Memorial Trophy sponsored by Derryveagh Crystal. Armagh’s Robert Hamilton gladly accepted the Award thanks to the 10 points chalked up in Bunbeg.

Such was the competitive nature of this years Championship that many of the Classes were decided by the slimmest of margins proving that Ireland’s most popular Clubman Series provides every competitor a realistic chance of winning.

Mayo & District Motorsport Club’s John Duffy, Border Championship Registrar expressed his delight at the way things turned out at the end.

"The 1999 Championship was a tremendous success especially as the overall title wasn’t decided until the final round in Donegal. On behalf of the organising committee, I wish to thank our title sponsors – The Four Seasons Hotel and Leisure Complex, Monaghan. Also thanks to the six clubs for hosting the events and most importantly the competitors as without them, the Championship would not happen. Congratulations to all the Award winners particularly to the overall winners David Armstrong and Herbie Blackburn. Please spare a thought for the other competitors who achieved full points but unfortunately lost out on the overall Award on a tie-break.

As the Border Championship goes into hibernation for the winter, we look forward in anticipation to the new season ahead next March for the Opening round in Mayo."

1999 Four Seasons Hotel Border Rally Championship

Overall Winners:
1. David Armstrong/Herbie Blackburn (Newry) 
               Escort RS Cosworth 40 Points
2. Glenn Allen/Adrian Johnston (Cookstown) 
                      Ford Escort 40 
3. Roger Kennedy/Paul Docherty (Belfast) 
                 Peugeot 306 GTi. 39
* David Armstrong wins on a tie-break.

Class Winners

Class Driver Address Points Navigator Points

1 A. Caddye Letterkenny 38 D. McGlade 32

2 G. Gilmartin Sligo 26 S. Somers 26

3 J. Shaw Longford 31 D. Flynn 30

4 M. Shaw Longford 30 E. McGarrity 30

5 P. Cleary Kiltimagh 26 B. Cleary 26

6 S. Gallagher Letterkenny 25 F. Judge 25

7 P. Meehan Mountcharles 34 K. McGaughey 34

8 N. Maguire Monaghan 27 H. Bell 24

9 T. McCreesh Newry 38 L. McLoughlin 35

10 P. Rogers Bailieboro 35 B. Davidson 35

11 R. Hamilton Armagh 31 P. Savage 30

11A N. Armstrong Newtownhamilton 37 G. Orr 28

12 E. Donnelly Maghera 38 P. McLoughlin 38

13 D. McLoughlin Cookstown 26 J. McKeefry 18

14B J. McGreal Foxford 36 C. Mitchell 36

Team Award:
Mayo Japs – Mayo & District Motorsport Club 100 – J. McGreal/J. Duffy/P. Cleary.

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