Several members of the recently reformed London Irish Motor Club tackled the Clare Stages Rally recently.
It was the biggest competitive undertaking of the club since it was revived this summer as four crews made their way from London to the Banner County to contest the September 20 event. There was a lot of anticipation before the rally on the car that Niall Moroney had planned to use, the 1997 Monte Carlo Subaru Impreza as driven by Colin McRae.
The Hertfordshire based driver takes up the story. “ We had chosen to use the car as EJM Preparation had recently painted the car and recommissioned it professionally to the exact specifications in which it last competed on a World Championship round.
“As the word got out that I had planned to use it in my ‘local’ rally as such, in County Clare, Ireland there was a lot of interest from various reporters, organisations, friends and family of which many were very glad to see the car back out on the stages after a long break from rallying.
“As the weekend came upon us there was a lot of interest even during scrutiny where the car was pictured a lot and there was parents asking if their children could sit in the car and they subsequently told us how much it meant to them for this to happen.
“As Sunday came around, the rain had started even before I woke up and continued throughout the day at the most inconvenient of times causing all sorts of issues for every competing car and team.
“As I started the first stage, Dysert O’Dea, I was cautious even with knowledge of the road ahead, it was more about getting around and learning the grip of the car rather than putting in a quick time so soon. “As the first few miles were behind me I got into a rhythm and pushed on the sections I thought I could and finished the stage 12th overall out of the 108 crews that started. Stage 2 was much the same, just learning the car again and got through safe enough at around 15th overall.
“Then it was back to service in Ennis after stage two and I was happy to see plenty of friends and family who were all excited and wishing us well for the event Eddie, Steve and Pedders from EJM were very quick to work on the car and gave it a thorough check so it was ready to go for the next loop of stages. Stage 3 was a repeat of stage 1 and we managed to take 25 secs off our first time through as I was confident in the car and more familiar with the road in the bad conditions.
“Stage two was a repeat of stage two and we started off very fast and neat throughout the stage but after a jump there was a rock concealed within a grass verge which unfortunately broke and wheel and hub which forced us to change the wheel and continue onto the end of the stage losing a lot of time.
“As we reached service it was evident that the hub was beyond repair and despite everyone helping out to find a replacement, there was none available so we had to retire the car. No major damage done but just a bit frustrating as I was getting used to the car on new roads in new conditions and just one small thing can end a rally.
We came over to Ireland to have fun in a special car and learn how it behaves on some great stages as well as to exhibit the car 9 years after it last competed there in the hands of my father and I am pleased with how it turned out Thank you to EJM Preparation, Charlie McEnery Motor Services and The Next Big Step. Finally, thanks to all marshals and Clare Motor Club for hosting a great event and we are all ready looking forward to next year.
Harrow-based Sligo man Anthony O’Brien was the top LIMC finisher in his Mitsubishi Lancer E9. He and co-driver Aidan Gannon finished 16t overall and won class 20.
Pa Baker made the trip home to his native county and was rewarded with second in class in his hired Honda Civic. Pinner-based Donegal man Paul McDevitt was on his maiden outing in a Ford Escort and he finished third in his class after what he described as a troubled day at the office.
Find more info on the Clare Motor Club here: www.claremotorclub.com
Read more about the London Irish Motor Club here: www.facebook.com/LondonIrishMotorClub