4x4 Off Road Championship

Round 9, Ardriston, Tullow, Co. Carlow.
Co. Tipperary Motor Club, 22/23rd May 1999.

Report by Ivor Clegg.

Karl McCarthy secures Championship.

The final round of the Irish 4x4 Championship was held on Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd of May 1999 near Tullow, Co. Carlow. Yet again, the weather held up well for the event, with bright sunshine and a stiff breeze being the norm for most of the weekend. There is something lucky about this site with the weather.

The international nature of the sport (and the internet), was brought home to us when Shane introduced us to Robin Stover who was on holiday from California. Robin found us through this web site, contacted Shane, and found himself helping to organise and run the event! Between his photo albums and his stories of the 4x4 scene in the States, he gave many people lots of ideas on how 4x4 events and machinery might evolve in this country in the future.

Once again, the course builders had excelled themselves when it came to finding tricky obstacles for us to tackle. As befits the final round of the championship, these were probably the most challenging tests we had met all year. On the first day, at least 5 vehicles ended up on their sides (including Trevor Lyons. I will repeat that, Trevor Lyons fell over.), while on the second day, 7 went over. Probably the most spectacular of these was the Toyota Land-Cruiser of the McCoys which finished up on its roof! During lunch, we were treated to an impressive display of ‘backwoods’ engineering as the boys hammered the roof back out. Then, using a combination of scaffolding pipes, bolts and tie-down straps, they created an internal roll cage which the scrutineer passed as fit for human habitation!

Keith McCoy went on to win 3rd in Class 2 for the event. Day 1 ended with several people tied for first place on 6 points. Day 2 would have to sort them out.

Day 2 dawned with some people looking a little the worse for wear. Once the start order had been announced, off we went to the tests to find that they were even tougher than the previous day’s.

In between the excitement of vehicles falling over all around the tests, the battle for the overall win settled down to a contest between Tom Twomey in his Suzuki, and Karl McCarthy in his Jeep. The competition between them was even more important than just for the event, as whichever of them won on the day would also win the championship.

The lead swung back and forth between them all day. One of them would drop points on a test, and the other would go and drop points somewhere else. It all came down to the final test, before Karl managed to gain a small lead which was enough to give him the event, and the championship. Almost unnoticed by everyone else, Jonathan Heneghan in another Suzuki had appeared out of nowhere to match Tom’s score. As Jonathan is a novice, he therefore bumped Tom down to 3rd place overall for the event, and gained himself 2nd place in Class 1 for the championship. Jonathan’s year was highlighted by his excellent 1st overall at the Cork 2 day event in February.

Diarmaid Drennan was another novice who had a very good event and year. He finished up 1st in Class 1 for the event (only 2 points behind 2nd & 3rd overall), and 3rd in Class 1 in the championship. Diarmaid has really taken to the sport in a big way, and deserves a special note of thanks for organising a terrific demonstration event at Stradbally, Co. Laois a little while ago.

Damian Heneghan got the same score as Diarmaid, but had to settle for 2nd in class as Diarmaid is a novice (not any more!). He has the consolation of coming 3rd overall in the championship. Former national champion, Trevor Lyons came in with a score of 36 to take 3rd in the class. Brian Berkery won Class 1 in the championship.

Very good scores were also posted by Mervyn Colton and Malcolm Cooper in their Land-Rover 90 in Class 2. With 34 and 35 points respectively, they came very close to getting into the overall prizes. Keith McCoy in his extensively remodelled Land Cruiser took 3rd in the class. All 3 took the same positions in Class 2 in the championship.

Outgoing champion Vincent Dorney won Class 3 in his Daihatsu, closely followed by Mick O’Shea and John Franklin. Mick’s daughter went for a spin with him in his Daihatsu, and he promptly threw it on it’s side! It remains to be seen if she ever gets into it again. Vincent and Mick took 1st and 2nd in class for the championship, and were joined by Gerry Desmond in 3rd place.

The novices in Class 4 fought it out strongly, with Seamus O’Grady winning the class followed by Gordon Cantwell and Larry Wickham. Gordon and Larry were 1st and 2nd in class and Karl Colton was 3rd in class for the championship.

Class 5 was won by Ivor Clegg, followed by Edwin Pratt and Paul O’Byrne. Edwin won the class championship, with Ivor 2nd and Paul 3rd. Edwin had the distinction during the year of scoring the first 0 points for an event in the history of the championship, at one of the Cork rounds.

At the prizegiving at the end of the day, we were reminded that tragedy can strike at any time. An anonymous donor had provided a trophy in honour of the memory of Sean Connaughton, a competitor and friend who died in a work related accident some months ago. This trophy is to be presented each year to the person who does the most to advance and promote the sport of 4x4 throughout the previous year.

Sean’s wife Margaret made a very moving speech and presented the trophy to Mervyn Colton. Mervyn is the P.R.O. for the championship and has done a lot of work to raise the media profile of the sport.

On a lighter note, the ‘Hard Luck’ prize, consisting of a welded up, broken crownwheel and pinion was given to Keith McCoy in recognition of his dedication to the task of reducing his Toyota Land Cruiser to its component parts.

The ‘Furthest Travelled’ award went to Robin Stover who came all the way from California just to be with us. Unless we get someone from Australia or Mars, this record will stand for a heck of a long time.

Everyone went home well satisfied with a great event and championship, and plans are already being made for the assault on next season. See you all in September, and have a good summer.


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