The 24th Classic Marathon

23rd - 29th June 2012


The full results book is on the Downloads page or >> HERE
Find Peter Boyd's 24th Classic Marathon photographs >> HERE

This year our event reports begin with route designer Anthony Preston's daily narrative that provides a superb insight to the challenges facing the competitors each day.

Leg Six - Clonmel to Kilkenny

24th Classic Marathon

Overall Winners - Howard and Matt Warren - Porsche 911

The Final Leg.... A short but busy day of competition lies ahead in the hills and lush farmland surrounding Kilkenny - Ireland’s most outstanding medieval city and our final destination.

Getting the action underway, an interesting regularity explores the Lingaun River valley before we tackle the first special test at Ballaghtobin - home of Mickey Gabbett. The Gabbett's have lived here for over 400 years and while the estate’s activities are mainly agricultural, Mickey's wife - Catherine - also runs a first-class B&B at this fine house.

Heading east, a super 2-lap circuit test then follows at Kiltorcan Raceway before a pleasant run brings us to Inistioge (pronounced Inisteeg) for the morning coffee halt in the recently opened Cois Abhann community centre. Inistioge is a lovely spot, nestling on the banks of the River Nore and it is no surprise that it has been the scene for a number of films, including Circle of Friends and Widows' Peak. The village also hosts its own popular Vintage Rally each year, on the August Bank Holiday weekend.

We turn north at Inistioge and pass through the little town of Graiguenamanagh en-route to Borris for the next test at Borris House. This fine mansion is the ancestral home of the Mcmorrough Kavanaghs - High Kings of Leinster. With thanks to Morgan Kavanagh and family, we have an interesting test through the estate woods here.

Leaving Borris under a fine stone disused railway viaduct, we head towards the looming bulk of Mount Leinster for the next regularity. The road over Mount Leinster itself affords some fabulous views to the north and west over a patchwork of green fields stretching into the hazy distance as we make for lunch at the Ballykealey Manor Hotel. The Ballykealey Estate has been the seat of the Lecky family for 300 years although the house itself dates back to the 1830s and was converted into a hotel in 1988.

After lunch, we pass the strange gothic ruins of Duckett’s Grove, built in 1830 by William Duckett and sadly destroyed by fire in 1933, as we head to a brace of tests around the farms of the Ashmore family (namely Richard and Leonard). These are traditional Irish farmyard tests, which involve you actually driving through some of the barns as part of the test...

The final competitive section of the event is an interesting regularity along the eastern flanks of the Castlecomer Plateau with fine views on offer, weather permitting... From the end of “The Plateau” regularity, it is an easy run down into Kilkenny and the final MTC at Kilkenny Castle. This impressive building, set right in the heart of the city, was the principal Irish residence of the powerful Butler family for almost 600 years before being handed over to the people of Kilkenny in 1967 in return for a token payment of £50. Our Rally HQ is just round the corner from the Castle at the Kilkenny Ormonde Hotel - where the party can start in earnest....

Day Six Event Report

24th Classic Marathon

Concours & Class Winners - John and Nicky Walsh - Triumph TR2

Normally at the MTC Out control in the mornings on the Classic Marathon there is a very jovial atmosphere with friendly banter between the competing crews, this was the case on the final morning of the 24th Classic Marathon until it was time for the top crews to clock out. With very small gaps between the leading crews all were aware that any slight lack in concentration by either driver or co driver could throw the results into disarray.

As the event runs reverse seeding the last car away was the Porsche 911 of Howard and Matt Warren with fellow Cestrians Graham Walker and Sean Toohey setting off a minute ahead but Howard and Matt’s biggest threat for overall honours would be Charles Colton and Guy Woodcock in the orange 911 but with a forty seven second advantage it was likely to be a car problem or wrong test that would throw their lead away.

The day started with a regularity section and across the three timing points best were Paul Merryweather and Brian Johnson on three seconds, the Godfrey’s were on four with the Warrens on six but Colton / Woodcock were on eight so the lead had increased by two seconds. Carnegie and Bosdet didn’t start the day too well on nine seconds but did well on the remaining sections of the day to end up with a leg total of 15 seconds which was enough to promote them to equal third place with the Godfreys.

Two tests followed and this is where Carnegie and Bosdet gain an advantage as they have limited competition in their class so often get a zero score by setting fastest time in their class. Warren, Colton and Godfrey are all in the same class and very competitive which means they will often pick up a penalty which for third fastest can be up to five seconds. Colton and Woodcock were equal fastest on Gabbett’s Lash which meant the gap stayed the same but on Test 2 at the Kiltorcan Raceway Mark Godfrey was quickest with Colton second in class getting three seconds and Warren third in class with five seconds so the increased lead was lost.
After the coffee stop at Inistioge there was another test with Colton again getting a zero and Warren on three so their lead was diminished by three, Carnegie was again quickest in his class so on zero but the Godfreys were third so got five seconds added to their leg total.

The Mount Leinster regularity followed, Carnegie and Bosdet were best on this with only one second, the Warrens and the Godfreys got three each which was one better than Colton / Woodcock.

So the totals for the morning sections were Carnegie / Bosdet best on 10, Colton / Woodcock on 15, Warrens and Godfreys both on 17, this meant that Carnegie and Bosdet had overtaken Andrew and Sarah Mallagh into fourth place.

There were two tests and one regularity in the afternoon so limited opportunities to make up any time, Carnegie / Bosdet had a cracking afternoon with just five seconds penalty which with the Godfreys getting 16 was good enough to ensure an equal third place for these two crews. Colton / Woodcock were best on the afternoon with only three seconds but this was only good enough to reduce the Warrens lead to 35 seconds and they emerged as worth winners of the 24th Classic Marathon. Although both Howard and Matt have previously won events when accompanied by different co drivers / drivers it is fantastic that they achieve the joint victory on what could be considered to be their “home” event.

Charles Colton and Guy Woodcock had performed well all week and were worthy second place finishers. On joint third we had twice Marathon winners Mark and Sue Godfrey and Dermot Carnegie / Paul Bosdet with Andrew and Sarah Mallagh in fifth place.

Graham Walker and Sean Toohey had done extremely well to finish in second place on times but unfortunately as the Lotus Elan Sprint is a post 72 car they are only eligible for Class Awards.

In the classes, the pre 61 award went to the Triumph TR2 of John and Nicky Walsh who also won the Concours d’Elegance.

Class 2 for pre 68 Sports and Saloons up to 1300cc was won by Cliff England and Peter Rushforth in the Austin Healey Sprite, second in this class was the Ford Anglia of Bob and Susan McClean and third Kevin Haselden and David Kirkham in the Mini Cooper S.

In Class 3 – Pre 68 Saloons 1301 to 1800cc victors were Barbara Morris and Sylvia McCrae in the Volvo P1800S, second going to the Lotus Cortina of Edmund Casssidy and Mick O’Shea.

In Class 4 – Pre 68 Saloons over 1800cc the top spot went to current FIA Champion Joe Reynolds and Matt Fowle in the BMW Alpina, second was Bob and Janice Price in the Volvo Amazon.

In Class 5 – pre 68 Sports up to 2500cc the top spot went to Andrew and Sarah Mallagh in the Porsche 911, with second going to Doug and John Hampson in the Triumph TR4 who also won the Best Newcomers award.

In Class 6 – pre 68 Sports over 2500cc the winners were Paul Merryweather and Brian Johnson in a Mercedes-Benz 250SL,  with Richard Prosser and Andy Gibson in second place in their Reliant Scimitar Coupe, third place went to Keith Graham and Sue Hoffmann in the Austin Healey 3000.

Class 7 was for post 72 cars and was won with a very large margin by Graham Walker and Sean Toohey in the Lotus Elan Sprint, second was the similar car of  Stephen Hall and Duncan Brown and in third was the BMW 2002tii of Kevin Rooney and Tom Flood.

The Spirit of the Rally award went to Arthur Senior and Chris Sheridan with Against all Odds to Paul Hernaman and Chris Towers.

At the end of the event cars were parked up in the grounds of Kilkenny Castle with many crews considering it the best Marathon they’d done with Anthony Preston having planned a good mix of regularities, tests and scenic road sections. Timing had been just right with some pressure at times but still enough time for socialising.

Hotels had been good all week and history was made as this was the first motoring event to have it’s prize giving in the Long Gallery at Kilkenny Castle.

It’s back to mainland Europe for the Silver Anniversary of the Classic Marathon which will take place in September 2013 running from Ypres in Belgium to Cortina d’Ampezzo – the destination of the first Classic Marathon in 1988.

Leg Five - Killarney to Clonmel

24th Classic Marathon

Joe Reynolds and Matt Fowle - BMW 1600-2 Alpina

As on Leg Three, the restart MTC this morning is not at the hotel but is some 40kms away at the Kilgarvan Motor Museum. This is to give you chance to have a look round this super little collection before starting the day’s competition. The Organisation has paid for your entrance fee and tea and coffee so there are no excuses for not getting down there in good time.

Our route to Kilgarvan takes us over one of the most famous stages in Irish rallying - Moll’s Gap. This twisting ribbon of tarmac is named after Moll Kissane, who reputedly ran a shibeen in the area in the 1800s. As well as being a classic rally stage, Moll’s Gap is also the main tourist route between Killarney and Kenmare so there may be coaches and other tourist traffic about...

On arrival at the Museum, access and parking is limited - so please follow the directions of the marshals and park tidily. The Mitchell family have been building their collection for over 20 years now, buying and restoring cars that have been unearthed in barn and bog throughout Ireland. It really is a lovely eclectic mix of cars and memorabilia housed in a collection of ramshackle sheds next to the family bungalow.

From the Motor Museum, we are straight into the action with a regularity over Borlin- yes, you guessed it - another classic rally stage across the Shehy Mountains to Bantry Bay. After paying a return visit to Kealkill, we retrace our previous steps back over the Pass of Keimaneigh to Ballingeary and the start of the second regularity along the shores of Lough Allua.

We are now in the Gaeltacht Mhúscraí (an Irish speaking region famed for its traditional music, poetry and dance). At the heart of this area is the small town of Inchigeelagh, where we take our morning coffee stop in the cafe of the Lee Valley Clothing Store. This precedes a short but sharp regularity at Clondrohid, which includes some narrow country lanes (known in Ireland as Boreens).

An easy main road run then takes us north to Millstreet - a bustling market town, famous in the rallying world as the home of Billy Coleman - “The Millstreet Maestro” - arguably Ireland’s most successful rally driver. You will pass the Coleman family garage (where fuel is available) on the way out of town. Others may know of Millstreet as the host venue for the 1993 Eurovision Song Contest.

Heading into the hills once more, the next regularity traverses some attractive countryside through the Boggeragh Mountains as we make for the lunch halt in Blarney - perhaps the most famous tourist destination in Ireland. Passing through the busy little town itself, we avoid the main tourist areas to enter the Blarney Estate by the main entrance. As there is no parking in the Stable Yard where we are having lunch, we will park in a field close by and then it is a short walk to the TC. Don’t worry, extra time has been allowed for this...

The Blarney Estate and Castle is owned and managed by Sir Charles Colthurst – a great character who has allowed us to “play” on his estate roads on previous CRA events over the years. Most visitors to the estate come for a different reason though - namely to “Kiss the Blarney Stone”. According to legend, Kissing the Stone (which involves hanging upside-down over a sheer drop at the top of the castle) endows the kisser with the gift of the gab (great eloquence or skill at flattery)...

After lunch, we tackle a super test through the estate grounds before heading out into the fertile farmland of County Cork to skirt north of Cork City to the Kartworld Adventure Centre in Watergrasshill. This impressive complex, run by David Walsh, features Archery, Paintballing, Clay Shooting as well as a nice kart circuit, perfect for a test. Although it is not long since lunch, we thought you might like to “watch the action” so the test will be followed by the first afternoon TC in the main building.

Leaving Watergrasshill, we join the “new” M8 toll motorway north to Kilworth and the start of a long and testing regularity in the hills around Araglin that has plenty to keep both the drivers and navigators on their toes. This section finishes at Ballyduff in the lovely Blackwater Valley. We then follow the Blackwater, one of the best Salmon fishing rivers in Ireland, to Lismore. Look to your right as we approach the town for a fine view of the impressive Lismore Castle, standing on a bluff above the river. The castle was originally built by Prince John in 1185 but was extensively remodelled in the 19th Century for the 6th Duke of Devonshire. Just beyond the castle, our second afternoon TC is sited in the Lismore House Hotel - said to be Ireland’s oldest purpose built hotel.

The last regularity of the day, starting just outside Lismore, passes through the Salter’s Bridge Estate, home to Philip and Suzie Wingfield, who have welcomed us on previous CRA rallies over the years. This is quickly followed by the final test – a good two-lap affair at the Rally Connection driver training centre, managed by Tom Keneally.

All that then remains is an easy run north through the Knockmealdown Mountains to Clonmel and our overnight stop in the traditional Hotel Minella - based around a Georgian Mansion originally built in 1863 and run as a hotel since the 1960s by the Nallen family.

Clonmel(meaning “Meadow of Honey”) is the principal town of Tipperary. As well as various literary connections and being the base for Charles Bianconi’s pioneering public transport system of horse-drawn carriages, the town is probably best known as being the home of Magners / Bulmers cider production. These ciders, with their distinctive orangey gold hue, are made from 17 varieties of apples, fermented and matured for up to two years. Traditionally served over ice, a glass or two of this local tipple might be just the thing to slake the thirst after a busy day behind the wheel.

Day Five Event Report

24th Classic Marathon

Douglas and John Hampson - Triumph TR4

Another leg completed and the gaps at the top are widening, Howard and Matt Warren have increased their lead to 18 seconds over Graham Walker and Sean Toohey but as they are not eligible for overall awards the important lead is over fellow CES crew Charles Colton and Guy Woodcock who have now edged up into second place with a gap of 52 seconds so it’s unlikely that they will be able to make up the difference but the pressure is on as one mistake on a test could be enough to swing the balance. Although both Howard and Matt have previously won events this would be the first time they have won an event together.

On arrival at the splendid Hotel Minella Howard was saying that he and Dermot would soon be retiring from rallying to take up crown green bowls, somehow I don’t think this will be the case for a good few years, I think we’d all find it difficult to imagine either Howard or Dermot donning a pair of white trousers and navy blazer, picking up their bowls bag and driving off four up in a Nissan Note to the local park on a Wednesday afternoon, having a game of bowls and relaxing with a cup of tea and cucumber sandwiches – question for the Irish readers – do you have crown green bowls in Ireland?

Previous contender Dermot Carnegie has dropped down the list to fifth after stopping in the test at Blarney Castle with a fuel problem. They did eventually manage to get going again but took a test maximum penalty which has probably put them out of contention but who knows somebody else may be unlucky tomorrow – everybody has problems but for some it takes place at a location that is not time critical.

Just over a minute covers the top five but then there is nearly three minutes to the sixth placed crew – it’s a good position for Cliff England and Peter Rushforth in the Sprite which seems to be performing faultlessly despite having to be driven very hard to maintain the pace on roads that are often undulating!

The Cork area had suffered torrential rain last night and some of Cork city centre and some surrounding villages had been flooded and residents evacuated, although none of the rally route was directly affected there were signs of the damage caused with machinery being used to clear debris off the roads.

Keith Graham and Sue Hoffmann had a problem with the ignition system on their Austin Healey 3000 but luckily for them it was before the test start so they were able to absorb the time lost. They were however not so lucky on one of the regularity timing points as they were one of eight crews who missed a tricky slot into a loop that meant they all gained a maximum. Doug and John Hampson are getting into the groove and were the only crew to get a zero at this location.

Bernard Bradley was taking photos of the results for RS 5/1 at the end of the day as he was shown at the head of the sheet with a clean sheet for that regularity, their first of the week. Richard Prosser and Andy Gibson were also clean on this regularity but were another crew who’d fallen foul of the slot above but as most of their fellow class contenders had made the same mistake they retain their third in class position.

Tony Davies made an uncharacteristic error at the lunch halt by clocking in late at the lunch time control – it wasn’t as though he wasn’t there in time but whilst busy doing some calcs for the afternoon time section he lost track of time which cost him four minutes.

At the evening dinner though the biggest round of applause was given to Bob Price – he’d slipped off the road on the Blarney test and was pulled out by the sweep crew only to slide off again – he blames the mud in his tyres, he was presented with a pair of spoons so that next time he can dig himself out, perhaps next time he’ll turn up with a shovel in the boot rather than the deck chair.

Best of the day award went to Graham Walker and Sean Toohey, crew and car proving that recent wins were no fluke. Fellow Lotus Elan crew Stephen Hall and Duncan Brown were still waiting for their new shock absorbers to arrive but it looks as though they will now not arrive until the end of the event – at least they will be fresh for next time!

In the car park this evening there did not seem to be too much activity, most crews just tacking routine checks, our oldest competitor Arthur Senior was swapping wheels around on his Mini – his enthusiastic driving style scrubbing the front tyres. Joe and Corrine Gerada are still having problems with the rear suspension on their XK 120 but by driving sensibly are managing to keep going and see the sights of Ireland.

Once again the route has come in for much praise – showcasing why there is such a history of rallying in Ireland.

For many days Barbara Morris and Sylvia McCrae had been leading Frank Fennell and Martyn Taylor in their Volvo P1800S – possibly the only crew currently actively completing in such a car originally made famous by The Saint. Today Frank and Martyn in the big Mercedes moved ahead of the Volvo and will now be chasing the big Healey of fellow Irish crew Bradley and Fagan.

There may only be one leg left into Kilkenny but with five tests and three regularities with umpteen timing points nobody can relax until they have passed under the finish arch in Kilkenny Castle tomorrow afternoon.

 

Leg Four - Killarney to Killarney

24th Classic Marathon

Cliff England and Peter Rushforth - Austin Healey Sprite

For many years, Killarney was the traditional base for the Easter Sunday Run (through the Cork and Kerry mountains) on the Circuit of Ireland Rallies of old and so it is with this year’s Marathon as we have a great day of rallying in prospect amidst some of the finest scenery that the Emerald Isle has to offer.

Heading east from Killarney, a pleasant run past Lough Guitane brings us to the start of the first regularity at the “Top of the Coom” - home to Ireland’s highest pub, which was sadly ravaged by fire a few weeks ago. This first section takes in the famous Fuhiry rally stage before moving on through some rural lanes to finish at Gougane Barra - a lovely little lake set in a glacial hollow in the mountains. St Finbarr set up a monastery on the small island in the 6th Century, however the present ruins date from around 1700.

A quick run through the Pass of Keimaneigh precedes the first TC of the day in The Brown Pub in Kealkill and the start of the next regularity through the Mealagh Valley. On this section, we are afforded fine views down towards Bantry Bay - reputedly the second largest natural harbour in the world. The mild climate around the bay means that many sub tropical plants survive that would normally be found much further south in Spain and Portugal.

Another TC quickly follows at the Longboat Bar in the charming little onestreet village of Durrus before we tackle some twisty roads on the Sheep’s Head Peninsula. This is probably the least visited of the Cork-Kerry peninsulas but proffers some of the most spectacular scenery. In particular, we are greeted with a fabulous view of Bantry Bay as we crest the summit of Knockboolteenagh.

Bantry itself is a busy little town but traffic is light so we will soon be heading north up the coast to Glengarriff, beautifully situated overlooking an island studded harbour at the head of the bay, and lunch in the historic Eccles Hotel. The hotel’s history can be traced back to 1835 but the fine building as we see it today dates from 1890 when John Eccles completed extensive redevelopment work. During World War One, the building was leased to the British War Office as a rest home for wounded soldiers.

Leaving lunch, a short coastal regularity at Mehal Head precedes a trip over the Tim Healy Pass. With numerous hairpins, this is as close as we will get in Ireland to an Alpine pass. The road was constructed in 1931 and is named after Tim Healy - who was born in Bantry and became first Governor-General of the Irish Free State in 1922. Due to potential tourist traffic, this is being run as an ordinary road section so that you can take the climb at your own pace and enjoy the fabulous views over Glanmore Lake and across to the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks on the skyline.

At the bottom of the hill, we pass the “Old Shibeen” pub - now sadly closed - with its trademark Murphy’s pump. Shibeens can be found throughout Ireland and also across large parts of southern Africa. The name derives from the Irish Sibín (meaning 'illicit whiskey') and was used to describe illicit bars or clubs where excisable alcoholic beverages were sold without a licence.

Returning back east to Lauragh, we then turn north along the shores of Kilmakillogue Harbour, to the afternoon tea halt in Helen’s Bar (Teddy O'Sullivan’s). This tiny quayside pub is set on a lovely bay overlooking the sea and surrounding mountains - what better place to stop for a break....

Suitably refreshed, we continue around the Kilmackillogue peninsula to join the main coastal road into Kenmare - a bright and breezy tourist town laid out in the form of a triangle by Sir William Petty - an English scientist – in 1670. He was granted the entire area by Oliver Cromwell as part payment for completing the mapping of Ireland (the Down Survey) in 1656.

From Kenmare, we climb into the mountains and turn left at Moll’s Gap (more of that tomorrow) to the start of the final regularity by the dark waters of Barfinnihy Lough. This section takes in some narrow country lanes before tackling the Ballaghbeama Gap. This narrow and tortuous ribbon of tarmac snakes its way across the hills to Glencar and forms one of the most dramatic special stages in European rallying.

Day Four Event Report

Results were swiftly posted after the leading crews arrived back at the Lake Hotel, Killarney. They revealed that Howard and Matt Warren had taken the lead with a 19 second advantage over Dermot Carnegie and Paul Bosdet, just one second back were former twice winners Mark and Sue Godfrey. It’s still very close at the top with a minute covering the top eight places.

24th Classic Marathon

Bernard Bradley and Vincent Fagan - Austin Healey 3000

Thankfully the sweeper crew has had a quieter day today with only minor repairs to tackle which was a good job as they’d had a late night / early morning changing the clutch cable on Paul Hernaman’s Porsche 911. Unfortunately having missed virtually all controls yesterday Paul and Chris are at the bottom of the leader board but at least they are still in the event.

There was a good atmosphere when the route books were issued, extra time having been given due to their being some route amendments to resolve a local PR issue. We have been very fortunate to have the assistance of Alan Verso as a link between the Classic Rally Association and the local motor clubs. Understandably the clubs are concerned when an organiser from outside their area passes through but Alan has worked tirelessly to liase with the clubs and find a mutually acceptable route. Many crews have commented on the numbers of residents out watching on the roadside.

The top crews may spend most of the day worrying about the odd second here and there but throughout the field each crew have their own targets for the day and have “battles” with those around them. The Classic Rally Association has always favoured re seeding on a daily basis and this generally means that crews are surrounded by those of similar abilities enhancing the enjoyment of the event as it reduces pressure for example by having faster crews constantly trying to overtake.

It’s interesting to watch experienced crews who had problems at the beginning of the week working their way back up through the field but with the leading crews on such low totals it’s unlikely they will be a threat to the current leaders but class positions will be fought right up until the finish of the event at Kilkenny Castle on Friday.

The hotel car park was quiet again this afternoon with most only doing basic oil and water checks but your scribe was amused to see that one car had actually packed a deck chair!

There was a good mix of results on today’s regularities. Best on the first regularity were Cliff England and Peter Rushforth in the Sprite, with a two second penalty. Mike Cornwell and Tony Davies were the only crew with a zero on the second regularity, so that’s the first two regularities “won” by cars in the sub 1300cc class. Seven crews managed to get zero on the third regularity – Godfrey, Warren, Mallagh, Merryweather, Fennell, and England. On the fourth Colton and Woodcock were best and this along with consistent performances led to them receiving the “Best of the Day” customised Guinness Bottles, on the fifth Carnegie, Graham and Warren were all clean but on the final regularity of the day with six timing points Richard Prosser and Andy Gibson managed to get a total of just four seconds.

It’s another day tomorrow and no doubt there will be some butterflies as crews set off for Clonmel via Blarney Castle – I wonder who’ll be off to kiss the Blarney stone hoping that it will bring them some luck for the remaining section of the event.

 

Leg Three - Galway to Killarney

24th Classic Marathon

Andrew and Sarah Mallagh - Porsche 911

Due to potential hold-ups in the rush hour traffic around Galway, the restart MTC is not at the hotel this morning but in Mother Hubbards Restaurant at Kilcolgan, some 23 kms away. You should allow 30 to 40 minutes for the drive down to Kilcolgan where there is plenty of space to study the paperwork over a cup of tea/coffee before the off.

From Kilcolgan, we take the N67 along the coast to the small fishing village of Kinvara, overlooked by the tower of Dunguaire Castle. We then turn inland to the start of the first regularity, which explores the strange limestone karst scenery of the Burren. This area is one of the largest karst landscapes in Europe_and supports a remarkable assemblage of animals and plants (apparently 1100 species of plants out of the 1400 in Ireland are found in the Burren). The region also has a long history of traditional Irish music and is particularly known for the "West Clare Style" of concertina playing....

Having completed a bis loop around the Burren, we head east through the bustling little town of Gort (where fuel is available just off-route) to the morning coffee stop in McNamara’s Bar and Shop. The next regularity starts just down the road by the shores of Lough Grainey and then takes in some rural lanes en-route to the little market town of Scarriff at the western end of Lough Derg - the second largest lake in Ireland. Our route traces south along the Lough’s western shores to the attractive twin towns of Killaloe and Ballina - birthplace of Brian Boru, who became High King of Ireland in 1002.

Having spent the morning travelling through County Clare, we cross into County Tipperary at Ballina as we make for the final morning regularity in the Silvermine Mountains. This remote area (where various ores were mined until 1992) is little visited by tourists and hides some interesting rally roads. From the end of the section at Rear Cross, it is an easy run to lunch at Croker’s Bar and Restaurant in Murroe - a pleasant village founded in the 1830s by the Barrington family, who also built the nearby Glenstal Abbey.

After lunch, we use the motorway to bypass Limerick - Ireland’s third largest city - as we head west for a good little circuit test at Kilcornan Karting, which will be familiar to those who have done previous CRA Emerald Isle rallies. A pleasant cross-country run then follows as we make for the hills and the next regularity at Knockanimpuha.

This section sounds like it should be a stage on the 1000 Lakes Rally in Finland... It is, in fact, an old Circuit of Ireland stage but it was more commonly known as “Sugar Hill”. Our route follows the edge of the escarpment here thus affording excellent views over the surrounding plains. Further fine vistas are on offer during a second short regularity at Strand, which quickly follows.

We are now in the Mullaghareirk Mountains, another remote area off the beaten tourist trail so traffic should be light as we head for Brosna and the afternoon tea halt in the Three Counties Bar on the village square. Although having a population of less than 800, this little village, until recently, was home to no less than 11 public bars. The farming and other rural activities must have been thirsty work around here...

The final regularity of the day starts just outside Brosna and takes in the bumpy road past the Mount Eagle radio masts. Hopefully it is a fine day, as the views from the summit across to the mountains of the Dingle Peninsula are superb. Returning to the valleys, we follow what seems like County Kerry’s equivalent to a Roman Road (although not quite as level...) to the day’s second test at Knocknaseed House, home of Todd Falvey. Todd and his brother, Conor, have been regular classic rally competitors over the years and now campaign a pair of superb Porsche 911 RSs on stage events.

When we were looking for a test in the area, Todd suggested that we could possibly use his drive and yard for a test. It is not often that you can have a blast up someone’s front drive (well not since Annaghmore on Leg 2 anyway...) so how could we refuse!

As this is the final test of the day, you should have time to watch a few of your compatriots having a blast round the pylons before heading off on the easy run into Killarney and our home for the next two nights - The Lake Hotel. Killarney is probably best-known as being the gateway to the famous Ring of Kerry. Killarney's tourism history dates back at least to the mid 18th Century and was boosted by the coming of the railway in July 1853, by which time, tours of the Ring of Kerry were already an industry. There are now more hotel beds in Killarney than any other Irish town (with the exception of Dublin) and, in season, the town has a busy and lively atmosphere.

In motorsport circles, Killarney is famous as a regular watering hole on the old Circuit of Ireland rallies as well as being home to the International Rally of the Lakes, one of the most popular events on the Irish motorsport calendar. Taking place over the May Bank Holiday weekend each year (since 1979), the event boasts some of the most spectacular and challenging rally stages in the world – as we will discover over the next few days.

Situated just outside Killarney and boasting a spectacular and unrivalled location on the shores of Lough Leane (with all-encompassing views of Killarney’s world famous scenery), the Lake Hotel is a fine family-run establishment dating back to 1820. The hotel was purchased in 1940 by its current owners - the Huggard family who celebrate 100 years in the Irish hospitality business in 2012.

What better place to end another good day of rallying....

Day Three Event Report

24th Classic Marathon

Paul Merryweather and Brian Johnson - Mercedes-Benz 250SL

After another tremendous days rallying in the Irish countryside with Howard and Matt Warren closing the gap to just a single second behind overall leaders Dermot Carnegie and Paul Bosdet. As we are only at the half way point of the event there is plenty of time for further changes, Mark and Sue Godfrey are ready to pounce as they are only nine seconds further back but perhaps they are deliberately playing things down in a bid to get a third Marathon victory in succession.

Andrew and Sarah Mallagh remain in fourth place overall whilst Paul Hernaman and Chris Towers have dropped right down following clutch cable failure on the first regularity of the day. They spent much of the day in different workshops but finally arrived at the Lake Hotel on the back of a recovery truck still minus a clutch cable. But the rallying world being what it is Todd Falvey not only allowed us to run a test at his house but also was generous enough to remove the clutch cable from his own rally car and donate this to Paul and Chris so hopefully tomorrow they will be back in the fray.

As the event goes on, some of the more experienced crews are beginning to climb up the leader board. Cliff England and Peter Rushforth have got the smallest engined car in the event but are now up to seventh overall – proving that you don’t necessarily need lots of power to do well. It’s quite a class battle as five seconds back is fellow Class 2 contenders Kevin Haselden and David Kirkham, the car must be going okay now as they even had time to take it away to be washed tonight. A further four seconds back is the Ford Anglia of Bob and Susan McClean, you can add the capacity of the above three cars and still only just exceed that of the 10th placed car  - the Austin Healey 3000 of Keith Graham and Sue Hoffmann – Keith and Sue did very well on the Silvermine regularity with a total penalty of just two seconds.

On the days regularities Andrew and Sarah Mallagh did best on the first regularity of the day with a three second penalty, on the second it was Warren / Warren with two seconds, on the fourth both Carnegie / Bosdet and the Mallaghs had just one second. On the fifth Charles Colton and Guy Woodcock were the only crew with zero. On the final regularity of the day we had three crews with clean sheets, the Godfreys, the McCleans and Paul Merryweather and Brian Johnson.

On the first of the day’s tests the Mallaghs were quickest and on the second three crews managed to beat the bogey – Kevin Haselden / David Kirkham / Colton / Woodcock and the Mallaghs.

The hotel car park was comparatively quiet tonight and it was good to see the sweep crew in for dinner rather than having to survive on food taken out to them in the car park. They made up for it later though as well past midnight they were underneath a Porsche fitting the new clutch cable…

We have said goodbye to a couple of crews today and wish them well for their next event, Brian Cope and Fred Bent were last heard of on a tow rope heading towards Dublin, Nigel and Paula Broderick will be off in the morning, their lovely Datsun 240Z needing a different suspension set up for Irish tarmac! Michael and Sebastian Haberl have a long drive back to Austria and it is a great shame they were not able to see more of the stunning Irish scenery that at least for most of the day has been bathed in sunshine. Charles and Kit Graves have had a number of problems in their Sunbeam Tiger and although remaining with the event will take no further part in the competition.

It’s another day tomorrow and with the luxury of returning to the same hotel cars will be lighter and all of a sudden all those things that were jammed in the boot by the luggage will be free to fly around!

 

Leg Two - Enniskillen to Galway

24th Classic Marathon

Arthur Senior and Chris Sheridan - Mini Cooper S at Annaghmore

Today is the longest day of the event as we head over the border into Ireland and then begin our journey south through Counties Sligo and Mayo to the vibrant city of Galway.

Taking the advice of the locals, we avoid Enniskillen itself and its morning rush hour traffic to take a longer route from the Killyhevlin Hotel via Carry Bridge (an important crossing of the River Erne as it threads its way through the thousands of islands and inlets of Upper Lough Erne) to the first test at Nixon Hall - another good farm lane test organised by Ernie Campbell.

We then head into the hills above Marble Arch Caves (the caves are actually named after a natural limestone arch in the neighbouring Cladagh gorge) for a second farm test at Marlbank, which could be a bit slippy from the daily activities of the normal four legged “road users”... Leaving the test, you get a cracking view over Lough Macnean Lower and the hills beyond as we make for Blacklion and cross into Ireland.

Cutting through the North Cavan hills, we pass close to the Shannon Pot (source of the mighty River Shannon) before regaining the valley for an easy drive to the morning coffee stop at the Rowan Tree Restaurant in Drumkeeran. Parking is limited here, so please park sensibly where you can in the main street.

The two morning regularities that follow explore roads that once formed a much-respected Circuit of Ireland stage through the lonely mountains around the village of Arigna. The valleys in this region were once the thriving heart of the local coal mining industry but after the mines closed in 1990, the area suffered unemployment and decline. The opening of the Arigna Mining Experience in an old mine above the village in 2003 brought some life and employment back into the valley, but the surrounding mountains still have a lonely and eerie feel to them.

The second regularity finishes in Ballyfarnon (where you should pick up fuel) and precedes a nice cross-country drive along Lough Arrow and through the attractive village of Riverstown to Annaghmore for the final morning test. This lovely little estate is owned by Durcan O'Hara and the house and fine stable yard is approached by a long tarmac drive culminating in a graceful stone bridge over the Owenmore River. Take care on the approach as the main avenue contains a number of severe speed bumps and this section is also two way rally traffic.

From Annaghmore, it is a short hop down the road to Temple House for lunch at the home of Roderick and Helena Perceval. Approached along a long sweeping avenue through lush pastures, Temple House is a Georgian Mansion overlooking a lakeside castle that was built by the Knights Templar in 1200 A.D. The Percevals have lived here since 1665, although the present house was redesigned and refurbished in 1864. Parking is limited in front of the house, so please follow the marshals’ instructions and park tidily.

After lunch, it is straight back into the action with a test around the fine Temple House stable
yard before we head south west past the flanks of the brooding Ox Mountains to the next regularity at Yellow River. This section finishes close to Foxford - home of the Foxford Woollen Mills and birthplace of Admiral William Brown, who was founder of the Argentinean Navy...!

Out first afternoon TC quickly follows at Healy’s Restaurant and Fishing Lodge, attractively situated on the shores of Lough Cullin. This is a very pleasant spot to spend a few minutes before the next regularity through Windy Gap. After a request from Mayo and District Motorsport Club, we modified the route at the end of this section into Castlebar due to sensitive P.R. issues. As such, you should drive with extra care in this general area.

From Castlebar, we cut through the lanes to bypass Westport as we continue our journey south. During this section, you should see the conical peak of Croagh Patrick - Ireland’s holy mountain - rising from the plains ahead of you. Legend has it that this is the mount from which St Patrick banished all snakes from Ireland forever... Every year, in his honour, over 15,000 pilgrims climb to the 2500ft summit on the last Sunday in July.

South of Westport, the landscape becomes increasingly wild and remote as we follow a minor road across the lonely Partry Mountains to Tourmakeady, which affords a breathtaking vista of lake and fertile plains below. Reaching the shores of Lough Mask, we stop at the traditional Paddy’s Thatch Bar for the second TC of the afternoon. This precedes a scenic regularity past the end of Lough Nafooey and into a lovely remote valley south of Finny. We are now in an area known as Joyces Country - not because of any literary connections with James Joyce but for the simple reason that it is the most common surname in these parts.

A nice scenic drive south into Connemara follows and brings us to Maam Cross which has been a trading post for livestock and goods for hundreds of years. According to an old Irish proverb "if you want to sell anything, even an old goat, go to a crossroads"... Maam Cross is also famous as the home of the annual “Bogman’s Ball”. Started in 1959, quite by accident,a group of tired but happy Bogmen tapped a half barrel of stout on the side of the bog road,shared stories and cooked fine steaks on their shovels which they held over an open fire.

Over the years, word of the gathering spread and each year more and more Bogmen joined the gathering. Nowadays, the Ball is a major social event comprising a dinner, a variety of live entertainment plus plenty of drinking, of course....

The day’s competition concludes with a short regularity amidst some lovely coastal scenery around Camus Bay to Costelloe (Irish name - Casla). This part of Connemara is known as the Gaeltacht because Irish is the first language of the local people. Indeed you will notice that the road signs are mainly in Irish too. So it is perhaps fitting that our final MTC is at the offices of RTE Raidio na Gaeltachta - the state Irish speaking radio service. Be prepared,you may just be asked for a quick interview about how the event is going...

From Costelloe, it is an easy run along the northern shore of Galway Bay to our overnight hotel - The Ardilaun - in the outskirts of Galway City. Known as Ireland's Cultural Heart, Galway is renowned for its vibrant lifestyle and numerous festivals, celebrations and events.

These include the Galway Arts Festival in July and the Galway International Oyster Festival in September boasting two main events - the Guinness Irish Oyster Opening Championship and the Guinness World Oyster Opening Championship. Next week, Galway is also gearing up to host the Finish of the Volvo Ocean Race (formerly the Whitbread Round the World Race) - a gruelling 9-month, 72,000 km yacht race around the world.

Day Two Event Report

24th Classic Marathon

Nigel and Paula Broderick - Datsun 240Z

Dermot Carnegie and Paul Bosdet have maintained their lead but now in second place are Howard and Matt Warren, former second place contenders Kevin Haselden and David Kirkham having dropped back to 14th after some problems early in the day. Mark and Sue Godfrey remain in third place but the gaps are starting to grow with over two minutes now separating the top ten.

Howard and Matt started the day in style with the best time on the first test, two seconds in front of team mates Charles Colton / Guy Woodcock in the similar Porsche 911. Warren and Warren were again fastest on the second test at Marlbank but this time Carnegie and Bosdet formed the meat of a Porsche sandwich. But the butter of the sandwich was very thinly spread with just a second between each crew, Mallagh / Mallagh and Godfrey / Godfrey followed closely behind. It was a similar pattern on the third test with Warren / Warren yet again taking the top spot with Mallagh in second and Carnegie, Colton and Reynolds all being one second further back.

Looking at these performances Howard and Matt Warren were well deserving of the special Guinness 'Best on the Day' awards presented at the evening dinner in the Ardilaun Hotel.

The final test of the day was at Temple House, this time Carnegie was quickest with fellow Irishman Joe Reynolds taking the second spot and John Abel and John Dennett in third spot.

Nobody was clean on the first regularity but Carnegie and Bosdet maintained their position with a three second penalty, shared also by the Godfreys, the Mallaghs  and Graham Walker / Sean Toohey in their Lotus Elan Sprint – they have won their last two events and although on this event they are unable to achieve an overall win as the car is post 1968 they will be keen to try and achieve the lowest total penalty for the week.

It was the usual selection of competitors at the top for the second regularity across Kilronan Mountain but others also showed their promise with the Triumph TR2 of John and Nicky Walsh getting just ten seconds, a very good performance in the second oldest car in the event.

The Yellow River regularity saw virtually all crews with a penalty of less than three seconds – a very unusual situation and we saw some fresh faces on the zeroes board with Mallagh, Robert and Janice Price and Richard Prosser / Andy Gibson all clean.

There was a more usual scoring pattern on the fourth regularity with a spread of penalties from two seconds to two minutes. Mike Cornwell and Tony Davies were having a good run in Mike’s newly acquired Lancia Fulvia, it’s only a 1.3 and Mike has been finding that it needs to be driven quite hard to maintain a good pace. Having rallied a Porsche 356 previously Mike is finding the handling characteristics different as well!

On the penultimate regularity Carnegie / Bosdet were top with one second followed by Warren / Warren on three seconds and Walker / Toohey on four seconds. On the final regularity du Cros and du Cros proved that their suspension problems were over with a one second penalty giving them an equal top spot with Paul Hernaman / Chris Towers. There were some new faces just a couple of seconds further back with Keith Graham and Sue Hoffmann on just three seconds, a penalty shared with Arthur Senior and Chris Sheridan – Chris reckons that this car has been in continuous rally use for over 30 years and Arthur himself has been rallying for over 60 years!

Several crews had spent at least part of the day making use of local garage facilities for running repairs including Edmund Cassidy and Mick O’Shea who not only had a broken shock absorber mounting but also a prop shaft mounting. They were in good spirits when they arrived at Galway and looked forward to the next day heading south to Killarney.

As usual the car park was a hive of activity with both drivers and the sweep crews tackling a variety of jobs – Charles Graves was trying to repair his starter motor, Doug and John Hampson were trying to raise the suspension on their TR4.

There was rather a deja vu feeling at dinner as turkey was offered for the third night in succession but this was the best with it being freshly carved in front of us. There was a great atmosphere at the hotel with crews having enjoyed a second day of glorious roads, stunning scenery and a well executed time schedule.

 

Leg One - Belfast to Enniskillen

24th Classic Marathon

Graham Walker and Sean Toohey - Lotus Elan Sprint

Welcome to Belfast (Cultra) and the start of the 24th Classic Marathon. Getting this year’s event underway, we have a fairly busy first day of competition, combining some scenic regularities with several interesting special tests.

Hopefully there are not too many sore heads this morning after last night’s Welcome Dinner, however you should have had chance for a bit of a lie-in ahead of the mid morning start. With thanks to the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, our starting point is at the Cultra Manor, built in 1902 and set right in the very heart of the Cultra Estate.

You may have had chance to look round the museums yesterday. The Folk Museum was created in 1964 to preserve a rural way of life in danger of disappearing forever due to increasing urbanisation and industrialisation in Northern Ireland. Visitors can stroll through a recreation of the period's countryside complete with farms, cottages, crops, livestock, and visit a typical Ulster town of the time called "Ballycultra". One of the buildings in the town houses unusual relics from Ulster's past such as a 19th Century waffle iron, an old 'poteen' distillery, the first twin axle bicycle ever seen in Ireland and also the 'World’s Largest Sausage', a 17-foot-long (5.2 m) banger. The mind boggles..... In 1967, the Folk Museum merged with the Belfast Transport Museum to form the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. The extensive transport collection here endeavours to tell the story of transport in Ireland, from its early history to the modern era.

“Cultra” is well known in motorsport circles as the home of the world’s oldest active speed hillclimb. On May 6th 1905, the gentlemen of the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club gathered at the Kennedy Family Estate, the current Museum site, for a motor meet and hillclimb event. The current event, run as a revival weekend, is organised by the Thoroughbred Sports Car Club (NI), and takes place every year (in early June) in the Museum grounds to a “Themed Format”.

A short run out brings us to the start of the first regularity just behind the Cultra estate, which initially follows the route of another hillclimb course - Croft - again run by the TSCC (NI), before descending to the town of Dundonald. We are quickly through this conglomeration and out into more rural landscapes as we head south for the first test at Carryduff Forklifts (David Greer Motorsport). This is a typical Irish “test trial” or autotest with a few pylons to circle as you weave round the buildings. We continue our journey south to the market town of Ballynahinch and the Montalto Estate where we have a brief coffee stop and a nice test along some of the estate roads. The estate was established by the Rawdon family in 1660 and is now an exclusive venue hosting business and leisure events.

Leaving Montalto, we then head west for the next regularity through a network of twisty lanes near Dromore before emerging onto the A1 dual carriageway, north of Banbridge. We join the A1 south for a short distance to get to the start of the next regularity, just outside Poyntzpass. This section, which twists its way through the County Armagh countryside, follows the route of the classic “Babylon Hill” stage from the Ulster rallies of old.

A long transit run follows as we drive west through the apple orchards of Loughgall and Benburb en-route to lunch at Parkanaur Manor, just outside Dungannon. Parkanaur is a large, rambling romantic Tudor Revival house which has evolved through the years from its original construction in the 1800s. Set in beautiful grounds - which boast a rare herd of white fallow deer - Parkanaur was owned for many years by the Burges family and then in 1960 became the home of 'The Thomas Doran Training Centre' (Parkanaur College), a centre for the education of handicapped young adults and much of the house continues today in this role. In recent years, Parkanaur has also become an exclusive wedding and conference venue.

The first afternoon regularity starts straight after lunch and takes in some nice lanes in the Torrent River valley that once formed a popular Ulster Rally Special Stage. We then turn north and pass through a somewhat drab landscape as we make for the windswept heights of the Sperrins for the next regularity. Hopefully the weather will be fine as the run along the south side of the Glenelly valley shows these mountains at their best. We emerge from the hills at the pleasant little town of Gortin, where the next test is held in the grounds of Beltrim Castle. You will search in vain for any signs of a castle here, but it is a lovely estate owned by Dick Blakiston-Houston with a great complex of roads - ideal for our purposes.

Heading south from Gortin, a very nice drive through Gortin Glen brings us to the afternoon tea halt at Mountjoy in the roadside Sperrin Restaurant. You should have time for “tea and a bun” here before setting out again into the lanes for a run across Pigeon Top - where fine views are on offer (on a clear day, of course...) and on south to Fintona, which until the late 1950s was home to one of the last horse-drawn public tram services in the British Isles. Nowadays, the only remaining example in active service is on Douglas Promenade on the Isle of Man.

Rising above the surrounding plains, our next destination is Brougher Mountain - home to a BBC TV Transmitter and also a network of interesting concrete roads, used by Enniskillen Motor Club for their local rallysprint events. We have been greatly helped in this area by Ernie Campbell - one of your fellow CRA competitors and a well-known figure in the local farming circles. Through his farming connections, Ernie has obtained some excellent test sites (including Brougher) to keep you amused, both this afternoon and also tomorrow morning.

The test at Brougher is something of a mini-hillclimb before venturing out across the moors on a twisty narrow concrete road - be careful not to drop a wheel over the edge here... We then traverse a short gravel section across a field before starting the final regularity of the day which takes us down the “other side” of Brougher to the valley at Tempo - Ernie’s home town. In fact, the day’s last test is actually at Ernie’s home with a run up and down the back lane behind his house.

All that then remains is a short run into the historic town of Enniskillen - supposedly the only town in Ireland built on an island - which sits at the southern end of Lower Lough Erne, home to the underland and Catalina Flying Boats that patrolled the Atlantic during WWII. Our hotel for the night is the Killyhevlin, beautifully located overlooking the river. Weather permitting; the outdoor terrace is an ideal spot for a pre-dinner drink or two as you swap tales of the day’s activities...

Anthony Preston – Route Designer

24th Classic Marathon

Harvey and Jan du Cros - Morris 1800

Day One Event Report

After several weeks of very un seasonal weather there was a certain amount of trepidation amongst crews as they travelled to the Emerald Isle. Some crews unfortunately had problems before the event, Joe and Corinne Gerada have travelled all the way from Malta, but whilst on the way to the shipping company their rally prepared TR3 developed a oil leak so instead they brought a beautiful XK120 but this is without a trip meter so navigation has been challenging and the cars is perhaps not that suitable for some of the roads in this area which are not always as smooth as some might wish for.

Tony Welsh and Anita Williams did get a little further but their Alfa Romeo Giulia Super developed a problem en route to the ferry and despite the best efforts of an Alfa specialist it was decided that continuing might cause further damage so they have joined us as the inaugural members of the hire car class.

Cliff England and Peter Rushforth had not even left home before having to change from Cliff’s Triumph 2000 to Peter’s Austin Healey Sprite. Also changing the car before leaving home were Kevin Haselden and David Kirkham. In their case though it was only from one Mini to another.

Scrutineering was held in the car park at the Transport Museum, the sweep crew – Peter and Andy were kept busy with minor repairs, wiper motor repairs being a popular request!

Harvey and Jan du Cros were debuting their Landcrab on a competitive event and it was very nearly a short debut as after leaving the ferry in Dublin they hit a speed bump and the hydrolastic suspension burst. Temporary repairs got the car from Dublin up to Belfast and in true rally spirit a couple of phone calls unearthed a local “collector” who had the right part, Peter and Andy drove to the yard and returned with a fully working car. Unfortunately it looks as though other components were damaged and they had further problems on the first leg. Further repairs were completed and they arrived in Enniskillen some four hours late but ready to restart tomorrow morning.

A good crowd of local enthusiasts were on hand to see the cars away from Cultra Manor, it was only a couple of km to the first regularity. What was surprising on this first section was that seven crews managed to get a clean sheet including Nigel and Paula Broderick in a Datsun 240Z – and this after a seven year layoff from competitive events. On the second regularity only one crew were clean – the winner of the last two Classic Marathons – Mark and Sue Godfrey. The third saw four crews clean – Colton / Woodcock, Brodericks – again!, Michael and Sebastian Haberl from Austria and our oldest driver Arthur Senior with Chris Sheridan on the maps in what is perhaps one of the most rallied cars in the event – a Mini Cooper S that seemed to cope well with the bumpy Irish roads. The fourth regularity saw clean sheets from Warren again and they were joined by John Abel / John Dennett in a Sunbeam Tiger and Paul Merryweather / Brian Johnson in a Mercedes-Benz 250SL.

For the tests Andrew Mallagh demonstrated his ample skills with a fastest time on the first test at Carryduff Forklifts, using his, or should that be Sarah’s 911 for the first time on a Classic Marathon.  The second test was a tie between Paul Hernaman and Howard Warren, both in Porsche 911’s. The tests were in danger of becoming a Porsche 911 benefit with Howard again fastest on the third test. This trend continued with the remaining two tests, only Joe Reynolds managing to match their times on the fourth test.

It’s important though to remember that on the Marathon and other Classic Rally Association events tests are scored on a class basis with the quickest car in each class getting zero and penalties on a sliding scale from then on which means that being the quickest does not mean overall success as can be seen from the current leaderboard where the lead is held by Dermot Carnegie and Paul Bosdet in an Alaf Romeo Giulia Sprint, just one second ahead of the Mini Cooper S of Kevin Haselden and David Kirkham. A further three seconds back are Mark and Sue Godfrey in their MGB with test time supreme Howard Warren in fourth just one second behind.

After Leg 1 only 32 seconds separate the top 10 crews so there are likely to be plenty of changes as the week progresses.

The overnight halt was at the Killyhevlin Hotel, a delightful location on the shores of Lough Erne.

At the evening dinner there was a presentation by Nigel Downey of the Erne Vintage Car Club who presented awards to Charles Colton and Guy Woodcock for having the best performance on the tests local to Enniskillen.
Eddie McGovern from Fermanagh Council welcomed all the participants to the County and presented ties to our Clerk of the Course – Bob Rutherford, FIA Observer – George Pavolopous and Route Director – Jeremy Dickson. Thanks were also made to Alan and Ethne Elliott who had provided assistance with the route in Northern Ireland.

The sweep crews had worked their magic through the evening and had made running repairs to several cars ensuring that everybody was able to restart on Tuesday morning.

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