Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Jennings leads the tributes to young driver as cars go silent

Tragic scene: Police are in attendance following the fatal crash that killed Timothy Cathcart
Tragic scene: Police are in attendance following the fatal crash that killed Timothy Cathcart

It was Garry Jennings who led the way, not just as leader of the rally, which he was, but in paying tribute to a fellow driver, a fellow Fermanagh man, who had been killed on the first day of the Ulster International.

Timothy Cathcart, just 20, a member of a famous Fermanagh rally family and just starting out on his own career, died when his Citroen crashed on the third special stage, Fardross, close to Fivemiletown in the Clogher Valley.

His co-driver, Welshman Dai Roberts, was airlifted to hospital where he was believed to be in a serious but stable condition.

His brother, Gareth Roberts, was killed in Italy two years where he was co-driving for Ireland's former World Super 200 champion Craig Breen.

As the leading cars returned to the service park at St Angelo airport on the outskirts of Enniskillen word started to filter back of a serious accident involving one of the cars in the British championship division of the rally.

Usually the cars stream back in line astern but then there was a gap where the No.8 Citroen DS3 of Cathcart and Roberts should have been.

As time wore on and a few other cars filtered back, the service area, usually a scene of hustle and noise, grew subdued and downcast.

The stewards who oversee the rally, were recalled to the event's headquarters in Enniskillen. There was talk of a fatality.

Eventually it was officially confirmed that a competitor had died although the name was withheld.

However, across the service park it was widely known among the competitors it was young Timmy and many openly voiced the view that they would not continue.

They didn't have the stomach to go back for the second loop of stages which should have included a repeat run through Fardross.

But while senior rally officials sought to establish what had happened they announced the second loop would be cancelled and instructed drivers to move their cars to parc ferme, the sealed park where they would normally be kept overnight, until a decision on today's section was made.

Jennings, last year's winner of the rally and the reigning Irish Tarmac champion, was adamant he would not re-start his Subaru, but, in a quiet tribute to Timothy, he was joined by co-driver Rory Kennedy and his team of mechanics in pushing the car across the vast service area and into parc ferme.

He was quickly followed by the current championship leader Declan Boyle and his team, then by Eugene Donnelly and the rest of the crews, all of them pushing their silent cars.

"I don't have the heart to continue in the rally," said Jennings.

"This is Cathcart country and we all know the family so well.

"We can't begin to image what they are going through and I for one think it would be wrong to carry on.

"Pushing the cars into parc ferme rather than driving them was just a small gesture of support and respect."

Timothy was the son of Ian Cathcart and the nephew of Roy, both successful drivers in their day and both long established businessmen throughout Fermanagh.

His cousins Richard and Matthew are also well known drivers.

He was in his second season in the British championship having competed last year in an R2 Ford Fiesta before graduating to the higher specification R3 Citroen DS3 he was driving yesterday. He had been in 12th place when the accident happened close to the end of the Fardross stage.

At the front Jennings led by 20 seconds from Boyle with Donnelly in third place.

But no one cared.

It was over for them long before the decision was taken to call a halt.

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