12th - 17th May 2007 - A Great Craic Contact UsBack

Reports from The 5th Emerald Isle Classic

Emerald Isle Classic - Event Reports

Day by day results are >> HERE

The full results booklet for the Emerald Isle Classic is available for download >> HERE

Tony Large photographs from the Emerald Isle are available >> HERE

Paul Bloxidge and Tony Davies - Volvo 123GT - Overall masters route winners of the 5th Emerald Isle Classic

Leg 4 to 6 - Harvey's Point to Trim

Leg 4 saw crews set of in showery weather from Harvey’s Point in County Donegal, still at least all should have been able to find that start of the first regularity as it was right outside the hotel gates – self start regularities where competitors drive to a defined point and then start themselves have benefits for both the organisers and competitors and are a good way of maximising the amount of competition for competitors and at the same time allow a greater variety of locations to be used for regularity starts.

After a couple more regularity sections it was time for another navigation section – these sections were not given out before the event but as the sections are untimed competitors had chance to plot before setting of to answer the Passage Control questions and at a secret check they had to tell the marshal what they considered to be the “ideal” distance to that point, judging by some of the answers given some crews didn’t calibrate their trip or went the wrong way!

Following the Navigation section came a test and lunch at Markree Castle – it’s been in the hands of the Cooper family for over 350 years. The test was extremely difficult for the reverse-less Interceptor of Keane and Pine as the test involved two reversing manoeuvres.... even the Test officials and photographers had to help as until the car was moved no more cars could tackle the test. Equal fastest time on this test was set by the Clubmen crew of Paul and Lily English in the smart Lancia Fulvia. Needless to say from the above comments you won’t be surprised that the Interceptor was the slowest, interesting enough Haselden and Kirkham had a wrong test here, the resulting one minute penalty making a big percentage of the gap between them and the winners at the end of the event.

The reverse-less Interceptor of Pat Keane and Roy Pine gets a little help on the way to the slowest time on the Markree Castle test.

After a splendid three course lunch crews set off for a lovely test at Newpark. Owners Ant and Rosemary Kitchen welcoming us back after a break of a couple of years – time enough for the grass to grow back where the cars had cut across the corner of the front lawn!!! Three cars tied for fastest times here – the Alfa Giulia Sport of MacEwan and Ingham, the Volvo 122S of Ganly and Bent and the Porsche 911 of Warren and Goff. Valkieser and Valkieser in the Panhard Dyna Z1 did well to be only 3 seconds slower as they only have an 850cc engine!

Next there was another Navigation Section, this one taking in parts of an old Circuit of Ireland stage - Arigna. Route designer Keith Baud had done much research on old rally routes and many sections of the route are steeped in Irish rally history. Beatty Crawford, a former competitor on the ‘Circuit was reminiscing about the Lough Eske stage where Paddy Hopkirk had rolled his Mini Cooper – and this was before even the Works rally cars had roll cages fitted.

Lowest penalties on Leg 4 went to the McAllisters in the Masters and John Tooher and Ian Stewart in the Clubmen Category.

Once the Masters crews got back to Cavan they had a short break before setting off to Cootehill for the evening section, this section had been developed in connection with Cavan Motor Club and had over twenty time controls and two regularities so the competition was very intense. Thanks to the enthusiastic members of Cavan Motor Club and some other volunteers all controls, including the Passage Controls were manned.

Unsurprisingly only one crew made it around the Time Controls without penalty - many would say this is near perfect timing / control positioning.

Whilst the Masters were out the Clubmen had a relaxed dinner in the Radisson Hotel at Cavan, but as they were going out first in the morning the Clubmen could not have too late a night.

The final leg to Trim saw cars setting off first for a regularity section and then two tests around a rallycross / sprint circuit. This was thoroughly enjoyed by the crews being on good smooth, if slippery surfaces. Quickest car on both tests was the Porsche 911 of Warren and Goff – on the first of the Tests they were four seconds quicker than Bloxidge and Davies but on the second test Bloxidge equalled the time of the Porsche.

Another regularity and two more tests followed before the finish in the fields adjoining Trim Castle, this arrangement made with the help of the local classic car club. Overworked Chief Marshal Lee Vincent fell victim to the field with a visit to a rabbit hole and subsequent sprained ankle – perhaps it should have been Lee who received Mickey Gabbett’s “rabbit awards”!

The final leg did see some positions change, most notable Haselden and Kirkham moved up into second place with a twelve second lead over the Volvo of the McAllister’s. Fourth place went to the Porsche of Warren / Goff and fifth to the MGB of Brennan and Briggs. Probably the crew who moved around the field the most was the Reliant Scimitar Coupe of Prosser and Gibson, after a problem on Leg 2 they dropped to 27th but finished the event in 9th place. It was a well deserved win for the crew of Bloxidge and Davies, good car and personal preparation paid dividends and surely this will be the first of many times that this pairing are on the podium.

In the Clubmen Category there were no major changes on the final leg and John Tooher and Ian Stewart took the top honours, the Morris Minor nicknamed Gladys on a former event requiring no attention from the event nurses all week! Karl Braine and Kat Carrick were second in their Volvo 122S – an excellent on their second major event, third went to the Chris and Bob Scattergood in the convertible Minor that gets taken out of the garage once a year for it’s annual event but it keeps going and Chris has promised to tackle some of the jobs list he was given a couple of events ago!

Concours winners Jonathan Hancox and Richard Lambley - Triumph TR4 - on the rallycross test

At the awards dinner the Autoglym Ireland Concours Award went to Jonathan Hancox and Richard Lambley in the Triumph TR4, the Spirit of the Rally to the AC Ace of Pat Coram and Peter Bartholomew – this car was the first AC Ace in Australia and took part in the 1955 Australian Grand Prix. Against all odds unsurprisingly went to Pat Keane and Roy Pine in the Jensen Interceptor, not only did they do the entire event without reverse gear, they also had to replace the master cylinder with one brought off a farmers transit van and finally the exhaust manifold snapped – a length of chain and some gun gum made it a little quieter but the escaping exhaust gases melted the plug lead! The buzz at the finish was great with many previous competitors reckoning it had been the best Emerald Isle Classic to date, the balance of the tests, regularities and general link sections being superb capped off with some excellent hotels and no problems through the week with traffic.

The event will take a break in 2008 but the 6th Emerald Isle Classic will take place in May 09 and is expected to be quite a reunion.

Special thanks should be given to event sponsors Vredestein UK and all the landowners and local motor clubs who allow us to use their property and pass through their areas.

The website results service is very comprehensive and allows you to fully interrogate the results and have them shown in many different ways – great for those “if only” analysis.

The CRA’s next events are the Classic Marathon to Norway in September and the Rally of the Tests in November. In 2008 we have the Winter Challenge in March, the 20th Anniversary Classic Marathon in June and the Rally of the Tests in November. Please do contact us if you’d like to be included on our mailing list.

Kevin Haselden and David Kirkham - Mini Cooper - Overall leader at the end of Leg Three

Leg Three - Limavady to Harvey's Point

Well it’s all change on the leaderboard today with former leaders the McAllisters dropping down to sixth place, taking the lead is the Mini Cooper of Kevin Haselden and David Kirkham, but their lead is a scant eight seconds over the MGB of Peter Brennan and Mick Briggs who in turn are just a second ahead of Newman and Hope in the Lotus Cortina. As is often the case on CRA events the penalty difference between the top places is very small – after three days of rallying less than one minute separates the top eight crews so the final two days and particularly the evening leg leave plenty of opportunities for further changes.

Lowest leg penalty for the Clubmen today went to the Morris Minor convertible of Chris and Bob Scattergood. Never one to tackle an event with less than full commitment the bumpy Donegal roads were taking their toll and the Minor was receiving attention in the car park to try and raise the suspension a little.

Jamie Dutton-Forshaw and James Hoare have moved up one position and are starting to get to grips with the principles of historic road rallying and finding it very different from the race tracks they are more used to.

Paul and Lily English are another crew getting to grips with Regularity Events and doing very well considering that Lily does not even have any average speed tables.

Bill Littleboy and Gavin Gill always seem to be smiling, the long bonneted Jaguar E Type cannot be the easiest car to drive around the Irish lanes with limited forward visibility but at least the sun has been shining so the roof has been down! They finish the day in 7th place.

Harvey’s Point Hotel is proving a stunning location for an overnight halt with it’s lough side setting meaning that the regularity the next morning can start just metres from the hotel exit gate. First car to arrive was the MGB of Tony Arnold and Beatty Crawford, their early arrival though was not planned and marked our second retirement – a clutch problem being the cause, the car is new to Tony and he’ll have a good “shopping” list for his mechanic when he gets the car back to the UK.

Andrew Johnson and Richard Sears are having a steady run in the MGA Coupe, currently lying in joint 15th place with the TR3A of the Harrisons. Fellow pre 60 competitors James Warner and Colin Francis are one place ahead whilst class leaders MacKay and Johnson have dropped to fifth.

New pairing of Shaun Arnold and David Harvey have moved up into eighth place as they settle into a routine, Dave is enjoying the extra space inside the car – he normally co drives a Mini!

Today was the first time that as far as we are aware that a classic car rally has used a stock car circuit for a test, and it’s pleasing to see that it did not become the demolition derby that so often features on normal stock car circuits. The other test of the day was at the lunch hotel and competitors had great fun trying to see who could create the biggest dust cloud!

It’s back to Cavan on the next leg then the eagerly awaited evening leg in the lanes of County Cavan.

Australians Patrick Coram and Peter Bartholomew in their AC Ace kick up the dust on the first of the of the Leg Two test sections.

Leg Two - Limavady to Limavady

The bar was full of happy smiling faces at Limavady tonight with competitors having had another enjoyable day with great coastal views, the exceptional weather even persuading Keith Baud to cancel one of the Regularity Timing Points so that they could just relax and not worry about keeping to the second.

Today seems to be the day for mechanical gremlins, first to hit trouble was the TR4 of Callanan and Cave with a rear wheel that decided it would rather not be attached to the car, thankfully the damage was minimal and they did not miss too many sections. Prosser and Gibson in the Reliant were not so lucky and had a broken suspension arm, as this occurred in the middle of nowhere many crews would have called the recovery truck and headed for home but that’s not what you do when the Banhams’ turn up – the broken part was soon removed and Peter took a trip round the local farms until he found one that had welding gear, needless to say the car is now back in the event and will no doubt be seen climbing the leaderboard over the next couple of days.

The lunch halt was at the fabulous Lissanoure Castle – just the place for your next Wedding Reception! – Not only did they lay on lunch for us but also allowed us to run a driving test before lunch and even better we had another different test after lunch. The test after lunch looked rather complicated but later cars did have a small advantage as they’d seen the earlier cars tackle the test – this however did not stop the Volvo PV544 of Jocelyn Williams and Janet Lloyd-Jones from taking to the grass and sending the photographer scurrying for cover – our finish marshals says that they were still laughing about it when they got to the end of the test!

Best performance on Leg Two came from the Morgan +4 of David Cook and John Topham

Birthday boy Robert Ganly made a bit of a hash of the pre lunch test and tried to eliminate any witnesses by driving straight at them! His attempt at the test after lunch was far better but he was last seen in the car park at Limavady seeking a hub puller but fellow competitor Richard McAllister lent him one so that further investigative work could be carried out, perhaps we will find out tomorrow whether the repair works were successful.

Causing most amusement on the post lunch test was the amazing Citroen DS of Warren and Jean Chmura – as many probably know it’s painted “nail varnish” pink! The car even has a flower vase, with the way Warren was throwing the car around it’s amazing the water stays in the vase.

At the end of the day prize giving Mickey Gabbett presented his usual selection from the Pound Shop though some items today did look as though he may have been casting his eyes a little further. An award for the quickest time around Harry Boyle’s farmyard went to Howard Warren and Brian Goff who received the wonderful prize of a pair of nail clippers shaped to look like a car – nobody in the room was quite sure what the connection is……Karl Braine and Kat Carrick missed out on a prize by not being in the room – there misdemeanour being to ask at a Secret Check in the middle of a regularity which way should they now go, probably slightly cruel to Kat as they did have instructions that said they should await marshal’s instructions when they got to the end and Kat had no reason not to think she had reached the final control. The prize was awarded instead to Graham and Ann Charles in the MGB Roadster who had asked a similar question when finishing the test in the old linen mill.

Looking at the end of day results Richard and Jo McAllister are still in the lead – not bad going considering Richard had a gate post jump out at him on one of the Tests, he was very lucky that said gate post did not cause his retirement – tough cars these Volvos. Moving up into second is the Triumph TR3A of David MacKay and Brian Johnson with the Mini of Kevin Hasleden & David Kirkham in third just 8 seconds down. French competitors Pierre-Yves Maisonneuve and Alain Gueguen are rapidly coming to terms with the idiosyncrasies of Irish rallying and will hope to improve on their current 11th position. Keeping up the International flavour of the event is Dutch crew Arthur and Sabine Valkieser in the Panhard Dyna Z1 – the oldest car on the event and with just 1500cc Arthur drives it with some gusto on the Tests and makes up for the lack of power with a tidy driving style, none of this throwing it sideways that is loved by some of his fellow competitors!

Michael and Lorna Harrison in an immaculate TR3A are having a very consistent event so far and will surely move up as the event reaches its later stages but there is little point worrying too much about odd seconds as the evening leg on Wednesday is likely to bring many crews penalties that will be measured in minutes not seconds.

Tuesday will see the event go back into Eire and the afternoon is spent in the Donegal lanes which have a somewhat justified reputation for being undulating so suspensions and stomachs may be put to the test tomorrow.

Whatever happens during the day you can bet that the competitors will be smiling in the bar at the end of the day as all the tales of "if only... " start rolling out and get more exaggerated as the Guinness flows.


Leg One - Florence Court to Limavady

As usual with many events the dramas began even before the cars had started the event – Kevin Haselden was seen in the ferry queue building a new distributor cap and taking great care to ensure all the leads were in the correct order, thankfully as he drives a Mini he only had to contend with four! Peter Brennan and Mick Briggs did get a little further but not much and broke down shortly after leaving the ferry terminal at Dun Laoghaire. Peter Banham graciously fought his way back through the Dublin traffic to rescue them and both crews safely arrived in Cavan late on Friday night.

The recently built Radisson SAS Farnham at Cavan provided a splendid start HQ and many competitors took advantage of the splendid swimming pools and even more sampled the offerings of the bar!

The only downside was the outdoor scrutineering that was at best showery – Peter Banham was not deterred though and spent most of the day either under something or with his head under the bonnet. Mark Brennikmeyer had lost the speedo on his MGA and initially was not too disappointed until he realised that he’d also lost the drive to the Halda but all was eventually fixed. Proving that it’s not only mechanical trips that have problems Roger and Alison Cooke had problems with their Brantz in their Volvo 144.

At the end of the day a group meal was held and Clerk of the Course – Frank Fennell held court with back up provided by Route Designer Keith Baud and Test Co ordinator Mickey Gabbett.

The event is supported by Vredestein and many competitors had taken advantage of the competitive prices and re shod their cars – on many events the Vredestein range of tyres have been shown to give very good grip under all conditions. The technology of tread compounds is also incorporated into their Classic range which combines traditional profiles and tread patterns.

Start Day dawned bright and sunny and the crews had a gentle drive across country to Florence Court near Enniskillen for the formal start and the first test in some adjoining car parks, those who had made the effort to get their early were able to sample home made scones in the stable block café.

Leading by 24 seconds at the end of Leg One - The Volvo 122 to Richard and Jo McAllister

Leaders at the end of Day 1 were Richard and Jo McAllister on 35 seconds and were fastest in their class on all tests thereby getting a zero score. Newcomers to this event and Ordnance Survey maps Andrew Newman and Mike Hope have done extremely well and are lying in second, just one second ahead of the newly prepared MGB of CRA regulars Ian Swift and Jon Sandilands. Just two seconds further back is the Reliant Scimitar of Richard Prosser and Andy Gibson, one of the porters at the Radisson SAS took a shine to Richard’s car and was talking about where he could buy one – were they ever sold in Ireland? A further two seconds back is Tom Callanan accompanied by Willy Cave.

David MacKay and Brian Johnson have recovered well from their earlier Halda problems to end the day in seventh place but with only eleven seconds between second and seventh who knows who will be leading at end of the next leg.

Charles Harrison and Mike Anderson are doing well, in what looks outwardly to be a standard looking Triumph 2000 complete with child seat in the rear! Perhaps that’s where Mike has to sit if it all goes wrong!

It looks as though Ted Gaffney will be the first retirement of the event – his Porsche 356 succumbing to an engine problem but undaunted he’s going to stay with us for the rest of the week as he doesn’t want to miss the fun.

The Clubmen Category is led by Alan Wright and Dave Axten, Alan using his recently acquired MGB GT – like his previous Mercedes-Benz this car is immaculate, lets just hope it keeps it that way throughout the week. The Clubmen route has a tulip route book so making for easier navigation. Behind them, once again supporting the Irish oil industry is the Jensen Interceptor of Pat Keane and Roy Pine, at the start line Pat was saying they had no reverse gear – let’s hope that it now resolved as we have tests later in the week that involve reversing and it’s a very big car to try and push!

Also running in Clubmen’s is the AC Ace of Australian crew Pat Coram and Peter Bartholomew , they scored a zero penalty on the first regularity but sadly they slipped back and ended the day in 9th place.

Once again competitors have been privileged to drive around many private estates – many of which are unique to this event and linking these tests were regularities across stunning countryside.

The day finished at Limavady and the evening meal concluded with the first of several impromptu awards ceremonies to highlight the errors that people had made during the day – last year’s awards had been plastic ducks but this year Mickey Gabbett has moved up market and graduated to squirrels and rabbits – not I hasten to add live ones but who knows by the end of the week…..