DRIVE OF THE WINNERS
Bradley and Henderson Win HASS Border Drive of the Day in Mayo
Camillus Bradley and Crawford Henderson opened their 2010 HASS Border Rally Championship challenge in some style by winning the Drive of the Day Challenge on the Mayo Stages Rally.
A ripple of anticipatation had run through the assembled competitors when it was announced that the HASS Border Drive of the Day Award would be presented to the fastest crew from class 14 on special stage four of the Mayo Stages. With a mouth-watering entry in the class already assembled for the West of Ireland season-opener, the Drive of the Day Award was surely going to produce fireworks !
And so it proved. Amazingly a class 14 car - that of Daniel McKenna and Andrew Grennan set third fastest overall time on stage 4, only one second slower than the second placed car. A host of World Rally Cars were left trailing in their wake - an incredible performance from a rear wheel drive Escort. Second fastest class 14 competitors were Manus Kelly and Donall Barrett, while Camillus Bradley and Crawford Henderson stopped the clocks one second further back.
The sting in the tail though could be summed up by the old adage of 'To finish first, first you have to finish'. The rules say you have to finish to rally to claim the Drive of the Day award, and with the retirements of McKenna / Grennan and Kelly / Barrett later in the event, it left the way open for Bradley and Henderson. The Londonderry crew made no mistakes to steer their orange Escort safely home and duly claim the award.
The sight of film crews from Irish terrestrial television channel TG4 recording the action on the Mayo Stages Rally, opening round of the 2010 HASS Border Rally Championship was proof, if it was needed, that the popular clubman's championship is going from strength to strength.
It may take another event or two to identify this year's likely challengers to reigning champions Thomas Carolan and Declan Smith, but there is no doubt that the 2010 HASS Border Rally Championship is off to a great start!
HASS Border Rally Championship All Ready For New Season
As the 2010 HASS Border Rally Championship kicks off this week-end with the Mayo Stages Rally, another motorsport series gets underway in Bahrain.
As always with Formula 1, the expectations have been ratcheted up to near hysteria levels, with many predicting that this will be the closest season ever.
That may well prove to be the case, but if dramatic season conclusions are the objective, then Bernie Ecclestone and the F1 organisers should take a look at the HASS Border Rally Championship on how to properly organize a nail-biting season finale.
If in doubt about this, just ask anyone who was at the finish of the season concluding Donegal Harvest Stages Rally last October.
At rally finish were Niall Maguire and Enda Sherry, happy winners of the rally, and by dint of that victory, putting themselves firmly in position to clinch the Border series title.
All they had to do was wait for the final stage times of Thomas Carolan and Declan Smith - seeded way down at number 85 - to come through. With the Meath Escort crew trailing in their class with two stages remaining, it was looking good for the Monaghan men.
Overall victory celebrations duly completed, it then became a case of waiting……and waiting. Phone calls were made, calculations worked out, but still no definite results from class 9 in which Carolan and Smith were competing. Even microphone maestro Dougie Hughes was starting to struggle to find something to say - that surely worthy of an award in itself!
Of course, its history now that Thomas Carolan and Declan Smith came through to win their class in Donegal, and with it the 2009 HASS Border Rally Championship, just reward for a season in which they showed the way with pace and consistency.
It demonstrated once again though what a remarkably successful formula the Border Rally Championship organizers have developed, one that allows the lowliest competitor competing in the smallest class car the same chance of winning the championship as competitors in the latest state of the art rally car. With such a level playing field is it any wonder that the series is going from strength to strength!
And the announcement that this year's HASS Border Rally Championship will be beamed to living rooms the length and breadth of the country as a result of coverage from terrestrial television channel TG4 means that the series is sure to reach new heights in 2010. It looks set to bring rallying to a whole new audience.
Henderson Auto Sport & Spares (HASS) return as title sponsor for a second year, following a very successful 2009. As leading Escort builders, restorers and suppliers of spare parts, HASS products can be found on many of the Escorts taking part in the Border championship, so there's a fair chance of a 'home win' come season end next October.
The HASS Border Championship Drive of the Day Award returns for 2010. Awarded to the fastest crew of a selected class on a selected stage on each of the six rounds (subject to reaching the rally finish), it has proved very popular with rally competitors and resulted in intense competition and some stunning stage times.
Reigning champions Thomas Carolan and Declan Smith are in Mayo to start the defence of their crown. Who will be stepping forward to challenge them in 2010?
Terrestrial TV Coverage For Border Rally Championship
The HASS Border Rally Championship is set to reach new audiences thanks to an agreement which will see the series featured on Irish terrestrial television station TG4.
A half-hour programme for each of the featured rounds will focus on competitors competing in Ireland's premier clubman's championship. The programme is set to be shown on TG4 at a prime time of 11.30 am on a Saturday morning a few weeks after the rally, and will be repeated later in the same week.
The opening round of the HASS Border Championship for 2010, the Mayo Stages Rally, has already confirmed that it is availing of this exciting new package which promises to bring a fresh new look to rallying on television.
But with only a few days and limited places left before entries close for the Mayo Stages Rally on March 4th, any competitors hoping to see themselves on national television will need to get their entry forms in without delay.