2017 was another land-mark rallying season for Jordan Hone, from Claudy, Co. Derry. On the Bushwhacker Stages in Omagh the twenty year old driver clinched the Group N title in the Valvoline Motorsport Ireland Irish National Forest Championship, in what was a nail-biting event for Jordan and his co-driving father Paul. “It was in doubt all day really as on stage one we had a gear change cable breakage, and we were jammed in gear. Thanks to help from some of class rivals we managed to get the car to service and the repair work done, and virtually had to come back up from nearly last position. We just kept at it all day and got into a position to gather enough points to clinch the championship. It was a great feeling at the end, and it’s been an enjoyable year in the forests. We decided to give the series a go this year and we are glad we did, and hopefully we have made a good impression with our speed in our debut year in a four wheel drive car.”
Indeed it has been quite a season, as Jordan quickly settled into the Rallyhire Mitsubishi Evo 9 with three Group N wins and two more podiums and indeed the Irish forests as he tackled many of the events for the first time. Last year it was the BTRDA 1400 series in England that the Queens University Mechanical Engineering student won in a front wheel drive Proton Satria, and this season the switch to the four-wheel drive turbo-charged Evo 9 was taken in Jordan’s stride.
As with any rally season there were highs and lows, and it started with a slight low on the opening Carrick On Suir forest round when Jordan retired the Evo with transmission trouble whilst leading Group N. The team bounced back on the second Moonraker round to take seventh overall and first in Group N. On the third round in Donegal they were up to an impressive third overall in the event, and leading Group N, until a rare slip ended up with the car stuck in a ditch. One of the highs was on the fourth round- Jim Walsh Cork Forest Rally, where Jordan recorded a fastest overall time on stage three, on his way to a fabulous result of fourth overall and first in Group N. “That was one of the good events for us and really turned the tide in the championship race”.
Round five, the Lakeland Stages was one that presented a big challenge for Jordan, as it came just after a massive crash in a hired Peugeot 208 R2 on the Ulster Rally. “The Ulster Rally wasn’t good, we had a couple of small issues from the start and then a heavy crash to end it all. There was no doubt when I got back into the Evo on the Lakeland that it took me a few miles to build up some confidence again. We were well down early on, but managed to pull it back to take another Group N win from Niall McCullagh by just seven seconds. I needed that and again it left us in the hunt entering the final round.” The maturity once again showed on that final event as he overcame the problems and once again climbed back into a position necessary to lift the coveted title. ”We really didn’t know what to expect when we started the Irish Forest championship, especially after contesting the BTRDA , but the quality of the stages this year when on par, if not better. We immensely enjoyed the stages, the competition and the championship and a big thank-you to the organisers for that.”
With no more plans for 2017, the plans for 2018 are to broaden the horizons again, and perhaps have a proper go with a R2 car in the British Rally Championship and also rally further afield in either four-wheel drive or front wheel drive. Support from Premier Car Parts, Rallyhire and Ryan Motorsport Insurance has been vital lately and the search is on to find the necessary sponsorship for 2018. Any support or incentives would mean a lot to help the former N.I Junior Rally Champion move his rallying exploits on. Two championships in two years, could he make it three out of three?