Belfast Telegraph

Close fight but Woodside grabs a late Boxing Day Rally prize

 

See-saw winner: Robert Woodside finished on top
See-saw winner: Robert Woodside finished on top

By Sammy Hamill

It had been a second-for-second battle all day but Robert Woodside finally broke clear to win the Ulster Automobile Club's (It's Not The) Boxing Day Rally, an annual event which always attracts a capacity post-Christmas entry list.

The Targa-type event, which was based at Edenmore Golf Club in Craigavon and covered 19 short speed tests, saw Woodside and co-driver Steven Dowds win by 13 seconds in their Mazda MX5 ahead of Trevor Ferguson and Garry Campbell in a similar setup.

Another Woodside, Robert's cousin Simon, was third a further four seconds back with Suz Graham co-driving his Mazda.

But it had been a see-saw battle for most of the way, the lead changing hands several times between Woodside and Ferguson with Liam Shaw and Jordan Burns close behind fighting over third.

Simon Woodside came through strongly towards the end, easing past Shaw for third place as Burns lost ground, but it was the penultimate test which proved decisive in the battle for the lead.

Ferguson, winner of the Cookstown Targa Rally earlier in the year, dropped nine seconds at the site of rally sponsors Jordan Concrete, allowing Woodside to emerge a comfortable winner.

Further back, Robert Robinson and Jeff Scott finished in fifth head of Mark Francis and Katie Lemon who made it all-Mazda top six.

Elsewhere, Alan Carmichael heads the line-up for the final rally of 2019, the Maiden City Club's Turkey Run which is based in the grounds of the former Ministry of Defence facility at Ballykelly.

The Ballymoney driver, who missed out by just three seconds to winner Joe McGonigle last year, is listed at No.1 in his R5 Hyundai i20 and starts ahead of the R5 Ford Fiesta of Aaron McLaughlin and the Darrian of Barry Morris.

Declan McCrory in a WRC Fiesta, Gareth Sayers in an R5 version and Ryan Loughran in a Ford Escort complete the top six.

There is a capacity 80-strong field for the five-stage sprint event which starts at 9.45am.

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