OWEN McMackin won’t forget the Rallynuts Stages Rally in Wales any time soon.
The Dromore driver went into the rally knowing victory in the two-wheel-drive event would see him crowned Welsh champion.
It was a fairly simple equation, but with David Crossen and Ashley Davies also in with a fighting chance of the title, it was anything but a given.
From the off, however, things went wrong for Crossen and McMackin, leaving Davies in the driving seat, literally, but when his gearbox gave up on the final stage, it was the Tyrone man who was the victor despite not finishing the rally.
There was drama from start to finish for the three main protagonists and no shortage of sportsmanship as well.
“We started to the rally and went to the first stage knowing it was winner takes all,” McMackin explained.
“On the first stage, David hit a rock on the inside, broke his front wheel. He came out of the first stage and my service crew was there and they helped him get going again only to clock into the next stage early and got a minute penalty.
“That left him a minute and a half down because I had a good clean run through the first stage, but the second stage was very shaley and I got two flat wheels not even half way in.
“I only had one spare so I limped through the stage but I couldn’t drive through the road section because I was on the rim.
“I waited for the next Escort to come and I stopped the boy and explained the situation and asked for his spare wheel. He gave it to me, thankfully, so we drove to the next stage but we were over our maximum lateness, so we weren’t allowed to go on so our rally was over.”
At that stage, McMackin and co-driver Lee Taylor were left thinking Saturday was a case of what might have been. However, on the very next stage, there was more woe for Crossen when his throttle cable snapped, which left Davies seemingly sitting pretty for the title win.
But then his gearbox gave up the ghost on the last stage, leaving McMackin the RAVENOL UK Welsh Challenge title winner, the BTRDA Silver Star champion, the Pirelli Welsh two-wheel-drive champion and the W12 class winners, with Taylor the co-driving champion to boot.
“It was unbelievable to get that in such dramatic fashion,” McMackin beamed. “I’ll never forget it. Never, definitely not.
“To be fair to Ashley and David, they are both great sportsmen. When David had his problems he said he hoped it worked out for me and Ashley said it was only fair that I got it. They were more than gracious.
“It was great to get it and to win the two-wheel-drive in the Welsh, the BTRDA and the Challenge driver, it doesn’t come much better than that!”
McMackin wasn’t the only Tyrone driver in Wales at the weekend and he wasn’t the only one to have bad luck on the stages either!
Dromore’s Ryan McCanney was competing in his Vauxhall Nova but he suffered a loss of power going into stage two, which all but scuppered his chances of a good return.
“It was eventful!,” exclaimed the Omagh Motor Club man who finished 88th overall in the end and sixth in class.
He continued: “A wee wire came loose, that’s all it was. It was hateful but at least we were able to come back and get some more done.
“I got pulled back to service where we found the problem and it turned out to be an easy fix.
“It was good to be able to show some good pace after that. I really enjoyed my first event over there because it was unreal, so fast, very nice rallying.”
Ryan’s brother Shane, in his Toyota Corrola, was also blighted by misfortune when, like McMackin, he suffered two punctures on one stage, which forced him to retire on stage five.
And two other Tyrone drivers weren’t without bad luck. Dungannon’s Barry Meeke was forced into an early retirement in his Nissan Micra, while Pomeroy’s Stewart McClean endured a puncture on stage five. McClean was able to recover from that blow and he finished a stunning 28th overall in his Vauxhall Nova and first in class.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.
Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere
SUBSCRIBE TO CURRENT EDITION TODAYand get access to our archive editions dating back to 2007
(CLICK ON THE TITLE BELOW TO SUBSCRIBE)