'It's Not The Boxing Day Rally' report
By Allan Harryman, 03rd January 2013
All images © PeeSpeed photography
Grass roots motorsport has witnessed a resurgence over the past few years, with 'lanes rallies' becoming one of the increasingly popular forms for local competitors.
It is a simple event consisting of short road sections linking special tests, all set at an average speed of 30mph. On the special tests the crews have to navigate around markers and pylons in the correct order as quickly as possible in mostly standard road legal cars.
Normally, no reversing is required unless you make a mistake and be warned, all types of terrain have to be driven over! It is not the place for a concours pride and joy!
One of the longest running of these types of events is the Ulster Automobile Club's "It's Not The Boxing Day Rally". This used to take place on Boxing day but has been moved to the 27th Dec due to popular demand.
Starting this year at the Premiere Inn in Lisburn and sponsored by its Table Table restaurant, the event had attracted over 80 entrants from all over Ireland in a variety of vehicles, for a day consisting of 28 special tests.
Top of the list and last years winners, Will Corry and Pete Moore were first of into a pair of tests near Annahilt, which were a mixture of farmyard concrete and gravel, testing some unfortunate cars beyond their limit.
It was nip and tuck at the sharp end with only a smattering of seconds covering the top 3 of Will Corry (Midget) Robert Woodside Jnr (MX5) and Eamonn Byrne (Starlet). The following 2 tests on concrete yards near Lisburn saw the Midget driver pull a little gap over his rivals, in the more autotest based venues.
From there, it was on to 4 slippery tests near Magheraberry and the disused airfield surrounding the Down Autograss circuit, where young Woodside had an overshoot dropping him back to 4th, and David Cochrane showed his pace in another Midget by posting 2 fastest times putting him in the hunt for a podium position.
While the top guys in Midgets, Starlets and MX5s battled it out, the rest of the field of cars ranging from 50s Sports cars right through to Noughtys shopping cars made their way through the tests, in an increasingly brightening Festive morning. A constant stream of mud spattered cars, and some smiling muddy faces for those brave enough to compete in open top sports cars could be seen traversing the roads around Lisburn, a sight harking back to the good old days of affordable motorsport!
It was now time to enter the Maze Long Kesh site, a place with a lot of history for the organising club and no,they have not been imprisoned here, but was a site used by the Ulster Automobile Club for similar events, before the prison was built!
Its wide tarmac and gravel expanses would allow competitors to free up their styles and opposite lock abounded through the well set up tests which due to the inclement weather the night before included various water splashes!
These tests had a dramatic effect of the leaderboard, a navigational error caused Will a penalty of 30 secs, highlighting how this is a team sport and both crews members are heavily involved in the result. Robert Jnr set the pace on a couple of the tests, but it would be Eamonn Byrne who would come out on top at the Vanilla Catering coffee halt. A positon he would retain for the rest of the day, but the battle for the other 2 places on the podium was on....
The crews would now complete a second loop of the same tests as the morning, with the setting sun and very slippy conditions causing some havoc throughout the field of remaining competitors, leaving noticable dents on the machinery and holes in the scenery! There was many a tale of spinning and sliding overheard throughout the afternoon!
At the finish back at the Premier Inn the crews gathered, eagerly awaiting the results. Would it be some more crystal, or a trip home empty handed?
It was Eamonn Byrne and Anthony Preston who took a well deserved win, by a scant 3 seconds from the comeback kids, Will and Pete and Robert Woodside and Dean Beckett rounding off the top three.
Full entry list and results available on the UAC website and if you want to comeout and join the fun look up the ANICC website for an event near you, to start you just need a car with tax and MOT, and a friend to guide you through the day to have a go!
ANICC website: www.anicc.org.uk