Local Rally team, Eric Patterson and Raymond Donaldson, added another victory to their list of successes when they won the Ulster Automobile Club Rally on Friday.
The event, sponsored by Flatright.co.uk, and organised by Clerk of the Course Ronnie Mitchell, was run over 32 stages around the Moira, Lisburn and Hillsborough area, and attracted over 100 teams from across Ireland.
A severe storm the previous night meant driving conditions were difficult with heavy rain and wind persisting during the day. The UAC marshals endured the wintry conditions to ensure the event ran smoothly.
The event was split into four loops and from the outset the Dublin crew Eamonn Byrne and Anthony Preston set the pace in their Toyota, followed by three Mazda crews, with Patterson and Donaldson in second, followed by Lisburn crew of David Mutch and Jony Hart, and Ballyclare’s Robert Woodside Jnr and Dean Beckett in fourth.
The second group of stages saw Patterson- Donaldson take the lead, from Byrne- Preston with Robert Woodside Snr- David Allen in their immaculate Mk2 Escort moving into third place. The Newtownards crew of David Cochrane- Alex Lyttle had edged their MG into fourth ahead of Lisburn brothers, Andy and George Johnston, in their ex Pentti Airikkala Circuit of Ireland winning Chevette HS.
The afternoon saw the competitors repeat all the morning stages. Patterson- Donaldson and Byrne- Preston maintained their positions after the third group but Woodside Jnr- Beckett had moved ahead of Woodside Snr- Allen with Cochrane- Hart holding a strong fifth place.
The leading crew of Patterson- Donaldson suffered a second puncture three stages from the end but were able to hold onto the lead, while Woodside Jnr- Beckett edged into second, ahead of Byrne- Preston. Cochrane- Hart moved ahead of Woodside Snr- Allen who held fifth and the Johnston brothers taking a well deserved sixth place.
Other local teams to enjoy success with overall and class places were Steven Ferguson- Mark King , Damien and Brendan Mooney, Norman Ferguson- Milton McWilliams, Dougie and Glenn Miller, Gilmore Magee- Mervyn Gregg, Ron Mullen- Malcolm McQueen and Kirk and Patrick Graham.
This was the final rally for 2013 and enjoyed the highest entry of the year. At the awards ceremony the competitors thanked the organising club and their officials for organising a successful event in the dreadful weather and the event sponsor Flatright. With this level of entries the signs are that 2014 will be a very competitive year.