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Galloway Hills Rally - 4 Dec 05

Posted: December 7, 2005 10:21 PM - 4178 Hits

  • Sean Devine/Killian Duffy win in Scotland

Posted: December 7, 2005 10:21 PM

Seventeen year-old Darren Gass went to the Grizedale and Galloway rallies to watch Garry Jennings and came away with a handful of trophies after his first taste of four wheel drive rallying.

The young man from Markethill near Armagh had travelled over on Friday for a weekend of spectating. But when KG motorsport boss Kieron Graffin offered him the car he had just completed the Grizedale event in, he jumped at the chance. A flurry of activity followed, with race suit and helmet brought over from Armagh and licence faxed to the organisers, the entry was hurriedly sorted. Kieron’s co-driver Neil Doherty agreed to sit alongside Darren and the scene was set for his first event driving a four wheel drive rally car.

This was an event of several other firsts; The fist time on an event in mainland Britain, the first rally on gravel, the first time on organiser’s pacenotes and the first drive in the car was from the team accommodation to the start of the rally, just a handful of miles.

With just five stages in the Galloway forest park, the newly acquainted crew had two objectives; to get to the finish in one piece and to have a good time. The first stage was a huge learning curve as Darren’s rally experience was limited to four events in 2005. “I was only seventeen in June,” he said, “but I’ve done a fair amount of rallycross and navigated on several rallies before that.” He continued, “It still didn’t fully prepare me for this but I haven’t had time to worry about it and we’ll just see how it goes.”

The pair negotiated the first stage with some caution, emerging in a respectable 20th place from their seeding as car 109 and last on the road. By stage two Darren was getting the hang of his new steed, the Group N Mitsubishi Evo 7 behaving impeccably for the teenager. Although not interested in overall position, the time sheets showed how much improvement had taken place in such a short time. But an impressive eighth fastest on the short second stage was followed by a frustrating third stage, when they were stopped on the line during the countdown.

“We were ready to go and the marshal stopped us,” Explained Darren, “About six cars had gone off and the stage was delayed until they were recovered. By the time we got near the end they were still driving out in convoy and we caught the back of the queue at full speed.” With around a minute dropped the organisers made the sensible decision to allocate a notional time for the crew, putting them seventh quickest on the stage.

Stage four saw the youngster push a little too hard and nose the Mitsubishi into a ditch. “The brakes went off and we dropped a bit of time,” said Darren, “but there were five or six spectators around and they pushed us back out very quickly.” It was an unlucky stage and the time showed them thirteenth fastest having dropped nearly twenty seconds.

The pair went into the fifth and final stage sharing position on the same second as ninth placed Adrian Hetherington. They emerged four seconds clear, the stage having gone without a hitch, adding another eighth fastest time to their tally. “We weren’t really watching the times,” said Neil, “but Darren did a fantastic job and to take some silverware home is a real bonus.”

The crew took home the Malcolm Wilson Motorsport Best Improvement on Seeding and the Highest Placed Irish Competitor awards as well as four tyres for being the highest placed under 25 driver. “I can’t believe it,” smiled Darren, “to be ninth overall and fourth in Group N the first time out is fantastic, especially as we weren’t doing the event until last night.”

Darren will have the rest of the winter to prepare for next year’s programme when he will contest several events in an M-Sport Fiesta. With his obvious adaptability and talent he will be one to watch in the future.

Darren would like to thank the following for their support in 2005 and especially on the Galloway Hills Rally:

Neil Doherty, Castrol, Kumho Tyres, Millview Fuels, Dalzells of Markethill, Orchard Motorsport Clothing, EMC Autopax, KG Motorsport, Jennings Fuels and Lubricants

Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally 2005 Final Results
1 Sean Devine Killian Duffy Subaru Impreza WRC 45:02
2 John Armstrong John Richardson Mitsubishi Lancer 45:25
3 Gary Adam Gordon Adam Subaru Impreza 45:30
4 Barry Groundwater Jude Wylie Mitsubishi Lancer 46:00
5 Malloch Nicoll Ian Nicoll Mitsubishi Lancer 46:56
6 David Hughes Bruce Harper Mitsubishi Lancer 47:16
7 Kenny Wills Rory Young Mitsubishi Lancer 47:17
8 Michael O'Brien Mathew Pearce Subaru Impreza 47:31
9 Darren Gass Neil Doherty Mitsubishi Lancer 47:44
10 Adrian Hetherington Terry Walkinshaw Ford Escort 47:48

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