Class wins for McGarrity and Blackledge
Last weekend's Monaghan Rally was a successful event for Fermanagh navigators, with both Martin McGarrity and Wendy Blackledge making the short trip home with class wins.
Martin McGarrity had forsaken his regular seat with Wesley Patterson to sit alongside Shane Maguire in a Group N Subaru Impreza and the pair put in a memorable performance in changeable conditions to win Group N and finish fourth overall. Sam Moffatt was the favourite for the Group N crown, and Shane and Martin quickly settled into second in class behind the early pacesetter over the opening stages.
The battle for second was developing into a fierce three way fight, with Conor Harvey and Josh Moffett all swapping seconds and swapping positions at regular intervals.
Harvey fell by the wayside, but going into the final stage Martin was calling the pace notes with extra urgency as they sought to hold their three second advantage in the class. With Sam Moffatt claiming a top three finish overall the duel was now for the top prize in Group N, and they rose to the challenge, setting second fastest time overall to take a huge 16 seconds out of their class rival.
Wendy Blackledge was navigating for Roger Kennedy, and they had a less dramatic run to their class win, taking class seven honours in their Peugeot 306.
Jonny Leonard and Jackie Elliott are planning to contest the border championship this season, but having missed the opening round in Mayo they were hoping to get their campaign off to a successful start.
Their hopes were quickly dashed however. Having dropped two minutes early on when the car stopped, they then went off the road and lost more valuable time.
"The car stopped on the first stage," revealed Jonny. "It lost all power and seemed to cut out. It turned out it was a problem with the kill switch, but by the time I had that figured out and sorted and back into the car I lost about two minutes. We were trying to pull that back, and that's why we ended up in the hedge. It was a square right and it tightened a bit, but where I needed the grip there was a bit of muck pulled out onto the road. I went over a fence and then it got stuck under the car so we couldn't back out over it. I had to get it pulled out before we could get going again."
Given all the drama, Jonny was happy to be able to mount a recovery to finish third in his class.
Local crew Daniel McCanny and Martin Gallogley also managed to cope with the tricky conditions, bringing their Escort home ninth in class and 28th overall.
This article appeared in Impartial Reporter 26 Apr 12