Well it's been two months since I was last at a rally and that was across the water when I went to the first round of the BRC (British Rally Championship) at the start of May in Carlisle. So a last minute decision was made Friday night to go to the ALMC Stages Rally which was based in Trim in Co. Meath. The main reason for going was to see some of the crews over from the UK who are competing in the REIS MSA Asphalt Rally Championship. The main championship contendors Steve Simpson, Damien Cole, John Stone and Graham Coffey would battle it out on the stages with non championship drivers like Hugh Hunter, Mick O'Brien and Garry Jennings.
Steve Simpson/Patrick Walsh
Changeable conditions during the day would see numerous changes in the leader board with tyre choice being a deciding factor. Another element of the stages to catch a number of competitors out during the day were the bales used for chicanes and to protect sign posts, and property along the route. First to fall foul of these was Adrian Hetherington, who had Nigel Frazer alongside him in the Escort. They clipped a bale on SS2 which resulted in instant retirement, then on SS4 Steve Simpson and Patrick Walsh retired their Impreza after heavy contact with a bale, the damage resulting in a canceled stage. Garry Jennings and Barry McNulty would be the next front running crew to retire when a technical issue saw them park the Impreza S12 on SS6
Garry Jennings/Barry McNulty
With Jennings out Hugh Hunter and Andy Marchbank had a clear lead in their Impreza but there was a great battle brewing between John Stone/Carl Williamson (Skoda Fabia WRC) and Focus WRC crews Damien Cole/Elliott Edmonson and Mick O'Brien/James O'Brien for 2nd, 3rd and 4th places. Stone and Williamson held a slight advantage after SS8 but they had tyres which suited the wetter conditions of SS7 & SS8 and the drying surfaces on the last stage saw both the Focus WRC's overhaul the Fabia, with both Cole and O'Brien tying for time at the end but Coles faster run on SS1 netted him the runner up spot.
John Stone/Carl Williamson
A welcome addition to the entry was the Fiesta S2400 of Pete Taylor and Andrew Roughead and the Millington engined Proton Satria of David and Allie Tinn. Unfortunately the Fiesta didn't make t to the finish but both it and the Proton looked and sounded great on the stages. Also present was a crowd favorite, the MG Metro 6R4 of Simon Chapman and Michael Calvert, there's just something about the sound of the V6 engine coming in th distance, an unmistakable note that raises the excitement level among old and young alike.
Simon Chapman/Michael Calvert
Top two wheel drive finisher was the hard charging Frank Kelly, who had Jackie Elliott in to try and keep control in Baby Blue. They finished a very credible 6th overall 24 seconds behind the impressive Alex Laffey and Jack Morton in the Fiesta R5+
Further down the order the junior event was won by the 106 Rallye of Brian Brady and Leonard Tuite
A few other shots from the day
With the changeable conditions it was hard to get some clear shots, either got massive glare or alot of darkness when the clouds came in but it was good to get back out on the stages, might be a while before I see tar or gravel roads again.
Next event for Peespeed Photography is the QUB Summer Lanes on Saturday 19th July