Loughran and McCrudden come out tops in Escort battle to take Baltinglass Mini Stages Win
Ryan Loughran and Paddy McCrudden have won the 2022 Garda Síochána Motor Club Germaine’s of Baltinglass Mini Stages Rally in their Ford Escort RS. The Cookstown driver and his Donegal co-driver finished the event with a 5.3 second margin of victory over their closest challengers, the Kerry crew of Conor Murphy and Sean Collins, also in an Escort. It is Loughran’s third rally win, and McCrudden’s maiden success.
The GSMC rally consisted of three loops of the Grangecon and Rathsallagh stages, with Service in Crookstown village after the second and fourth tests. Murphy and Collins, the No. 16 seeds, surprised many by taking the lead on the opening stage, 1.4 seconds ahead of Loughran and McCrudden. The first few kilometres saw Gary Kiernan and Cathal Mulgrew, running at No. 3, slide their Escort off the road after a jump. The stage was temporarily blocked, and eight following drivers were awarded Loughran’s time.
The second stage saw Loughran go fastest, but only by .2 of a second over Murphy. Chris O’Callaghan and Kaine Treanor moved into third in another Escort, 4.4 seconds off the lead, followed very closely by Martin Toner and James McEneaney in a BMW 1-series, just .1 of second behind, and Stuart Darcy/Liam McIntyre in a Proton Millington, another 1.1 seconds back. David Moffett/Johnny Baird and David Condell/Martin Brady were separated by 1.2 seconds in the battle for sixth.
Stage three saw Murphy add a further 4.4 seconds to his lead, but he reported that his engine was going flat on power in fifth and sixth gears. This issue became more pronounced on the next stage, as it became clear that the Escort’s fuel pressure was dropping on the straights. Six seconds were lost to Loughran, who moved into the lead, but only by .9 of a second.
The third test brought an end to Toner’s challenge, as a broken throttle sensor halted his BMW. Darcy and McIntyre moved ahead of O’Callaghan and Treanor into third place, while Moffett and Baird took over in fifth, after Condell and Brady lost time with brake problems – they missed stage four while attending to the issue but later re-joined the field under SuperRally rules. Moffett and Baird were second fastest on stage four, and moved up another place on the leader board, to fourth.
The closing loop of stages saw Loughran add 4.1 and .3 of a second to his advantage, to cement his and McCrudden’s victory. For Murphy and Collins, second place was perhaps more than they expected, or anyone else expected of them, but they will be left to wonder what might have been had their Escort’s fuel system behaved as intended.
The Proton of Darcy and McIntyre hit a chicane on the penultimate stage, and the resultant stall dropped them two places on the leaderboard, to fifth. This left O’Callaghan and Treanor back into third, and they staved off a late challenge from Moffett and Baird, who set fastest time on the final stage but had to be content with fourth in the final results.
Padraig Egan and Gavin Carr stalled briefly on the startline of the final stage, and lost out in the battle for sixth place to Johno Doogan and Paul Lennon.
The 2022 Tarmac and National Rally double champion, Josh Moffett, found the Toyota Starlet he was driving on this event a very different beast to his usual R5 Hyundai, especially with regard to the absence of modern suspension to soak up the bumps. He and co-driver, Keith Moriarty, eventually finished second in the two litre class, ten seconds behind the Escort crew of Brian Lavelle and Piaras O Ceallachain.
Garda Síochána Motor Club Germaine’s of Baltinglass Mini Stages Rally 2022
1 Ryan Loughran/Paddy McCrudden Ford Escort RS 43mins, 03.1secs
2 Conor Murphy/Sean Collins Ford Escort RS +00:05.3
3 Chris O’Callaghan/Kaine Treanor Ford Escort RS +00:22.5
4 David Moffett/Johnny Baird Ford Escort RS +00:24.7
5 Stuart Darcy/Liam McIntyre Proton MEM S2500 +00:39.2
6 Johno Doogan/Paul Lennon Ford Escort RS +01:02.2
7 Padraig Egan/Gavin Carr Ford Escort RS +01:07.1
8 Vincent O’Shea/Eoin O’Donoghue Darrian T90 +01:18.0
9 Eddie Doherty/Tom Murray Ford Escort RS +01:22.7
10 Pat O’Connell/Mark Wiley Mitsubishi Evo X +01:46.2
Header Image: Ryan Loughran and Paddy McCrudden flying to victory on the Germaine’s of Baltinglass GSMC Mini Stages Rally. Photo: Catherine Barron.