Draperstown crew, Alan McGeehan and Niall Magee took first place in the Maiden City Motor Club’s MJM Group Dogleap Tarmac Stages Rally, following fierce competition throughout the day.
The rally was held at the Shackelton Complex at Ballylelly and boasted a new title sponsor, The MJM Group, who are the new owners of the facility. A total of 80 crews took to the stages, including four Juniors competing in the Junior 1000 Rally Championship.
The rally consisted of six special stages and the dry conditions contributed to some very fast stage times. Straight away, the battle of the ‘2015 Dogleap Rally’ resumed between Joe McGonigle (the 2015 winner) in the Skoda S2000 and Alan McGeehan in his Mini WRC.
McGonigle took the first stage by a margin of just 0.1 seconds while McGeehan claimed Stage 2 by 0.5 seconds and then pulled out a small lead by being 2.9 seconds faster on Stage 3. These two were in a class of their own, with Alan Carmichael some 24 seconds further back in third place in another of the McGeehan Motorsport WRC Minis.
McGonigle’s fastest times on Stages 4 and 6 were not enough to catch McGeehan, who came home a worthy winner after coming close in previous years. Unfortunately for McGonigle, an earlier uncharacteristic error by his co-driver resulted in a time penalty. The crew continued on appeal but this penalty dropped them out of contention.
Alan Carmichael and Ivor Lamont were promoted to second place and Dungiven crew Seamus O’Connell and Sean Magee in their Escort MkII completed the podium places, as well as finishing first two wheel drive.
There was another titanic battle between two of the best young prospects in Irish rallying, Callum Devine form Park and Marty Gallagher from Letterkenny, in Class 5. Gallagher, in a Peugeot 208, was being co-driven by John Pat Cunning representing the sponsor, the MJM Group. They were in front for Stages 1 and 2 but lost time on Stage 3. Callum Devine, with Keith Moriarty calling the notes in the Opel Adam, took the class lead and held it to the end, finishing an incredible fourth overall. Gallagher was a mere nine seconds back and finished 6th overall.
The rally was also a round of the Junior 1000 Rally Challenge. Peter Bennett and Andrew Bushe took the win in their Skoda, 10 seconds ahead of Josh McErlean and Tommy McErlean in a Peugeot.