A cold and bright morning greeted competitors as they assembled at Luttrellstown Golf Club for round one of the 2016 Frank Keane Motors Endurance Championship hosted by ALMC Motor Club. Clerk-of-the-Course Conor Crowley and Route Co-Ordinator Frank O’Donoghue devised a new format for the 2016 event which consisted of 23 selectives culminating in two night-time runs through the mud and loose-surfaced link roads in the grounds of the Luttrellstown Estate on the edge of Dublin City. The reduced road sections and the running of night-selectives permitted a later start time of 1pm, with 30 crews setting off into the grounds of the estate to tackle the first 5 selectives of the day. The slippery opening tests saw last year’s winners Eamonn Byrne and William Kelly take an early lead in the class 3 Starlet ahead of Limerick’s Alan & George Shinnors in a class 1B example. Local driver Karl O’Donoghue and reigning navigation champion Evin Hughes lay third after the opening loop, just one second further back in their Starlet.
Selectives 6 through to 9 saw competitors travel across the county boundary into Meath to tackle two sealed-surface tests at Brindley’s and Stanley’s farmyards and a 3.5km selective at Fairyhouse racecourse. A passing hail shower meant very tricky conditions in the farmyards however, all crews made it through these selectives unscathed. It was here that Barrable/Larkin begun to move up the order, taking 1 second off O’Donoghue/Hughes in Brindley’s and matching leaders Byrne/Kelly in Stanley’s before taking 6 seconds off them through Fairyhouse Racecourse. Robert Howard/Andrew Stewart from Longford remained within touching distance of the leaders in fifth and were ready to pounce should any of the leaders slip up. Meanwhile, Martin Nugent and Simon Echlin in their green Mark 1 Escort rounded out the top 6, as the crews headed back to tackle the five Luttrrellstown selectives before the lunchtime halt.
The second run through Luttrellstown saw Howard/Stewart capitalise, moving to third as O’Donoghue/Hughes and the Shinnors brothers both incurred 1 minute penalties for incorrectly transcribing a code board. Byrne andKelly continued their consistent pace and remained in the lead at the halfway point just 5 seconds ahead of Barrable and Larkin.
After some lunch and running repairs, the crews went on their third loop of the estate and despite some ruts developing on the selectives, most crews were still able to improve on their earlier times with Byrne and Barrable tying throughout the loop, with O’Donoghue clawing back time on Howard in third. Unfortunately for Howard/Stewart, their challenge came to a premature end on the second run through Brindley’s farm as they encountered engine problems, but still managed to post times on the remaining stages, finishing in 8th place.
The leaders continued to tie throuought the second runs through Brindley’s and Stanley’s however Barrable again capitalised in Fairyhouse, Byrne dropping 6 seconds through the selective. From there on, Byrne was unable to overturn Barrable’s advantage and had to settle for second place.
Meanwhile, Karl O’Donoghue battled on to take third ahead of Alan Shinnors who was left to rue a further penalty on the night selective which would have tied him and O’Donoghue for third.
In the classes, Catherine and Robert Dancey had a steady run in their Seicento to win class 1A. Kevin & Craig O’Rourke won class 1B with Peter Barrable/Conor Mohan taking second in class and Robert Howard eventually finishing third in class. Sligo’s Patrick Corcoran with Ruaidhri Nash navigating looked set for third in class before their engine let go in Fairyhouse, making it a long trip back down the N4 to Sligo that night.
In class 2, Colin & Breen Sheridan took a start to finish win ahead of Gerry and Paul Joyce and Eoin Longworth/Stephen Joyce in third. Local crew Mark Reilly / Darragh Gibbons had been running second in class for most of the day before they too succumbed to the Fairyhouse selective, the Starlet retiring with a transmission issue on Mark’s nearby driveway. Eamonn Byrne / William Kelly were awarded first in Class 3. Ken Fleming and Clifford Auld were second in class and Sean McEnroe / Martin Quinn finished third in the Endurance spec Proton. In the retro RWD class, Martin Nugent / Simon Echlin took the class win in their Mark I Escort, finishing ahead of Des Bruton / Ed Colton in a Hillman Avenger and Peter Faulkner / Ciaran Garahy in a Mazda MX5.
As a tribute to the late Simon McKinley, ALMC awarded a perpertual trophy to the highest placed Fiat car and this was won by Conor Doyle and James Bradley in Seicento. This award was a very fitting tribute to Simon who had competed on all ALMC Endurance Trials in his yellow Cinquecento and as a further tribute, ALMC decided not to run the number 5 which Simon ran last year. Doyle and Bradley also took home a second piece of silverware as they won a special award for the best novice crew presented in memory of Thomas Shaw, an avid motorsport fan who lived along the route and who passed away in 2014 following an illness. The Auto Glym “Best Presented Car” award was kindly sponsored by the Gaffney family and was won by Des Bruton/Ed Colton and their Hillman Avenger.
Overall, a very enjoyable day was had by all competitors. The next round of the Frank Keane Motors Irish Endurance Championship sees competitors go to the Dungannon MC Lanes Event on April 16th.
ALMC would like to thank all those who assisted with the running of the event, particularly our marshals and timekeepers who endured the freezing temperatures. The club also wish to sincerely thank all the landowners who made their property available for running the selectives.
Top 6 – ALMC Endurance Trial – 5th March 2016 at Luttrellstown
1. Robert Barrable / Ciaran Larkin (Starlet)
2. Eamonn Byrne / William Kelly (Starlet) +0:04
3. Karl O’Donoghue / Evin Hughes (Starlet) +1:38
4. Alan Shinnors / George Shinnors (Starlet) +2:38
5. Martin Nugent / Simon Echlin (Escort) +3:08
6. Kevin O’Rourke / Craig O’Rourke (Starlet) +3:40
Words- Darragh Gibbons
Main Image- John Delaney