Over 10 Years in Trialing


By Diarmaid Drennan

It's now two weeks after the final round of the 98/99 4x4 Championship and I'm missing it already!! The bug has bitten and I can't see the wound healing for some time to come.

First year out and I end up 5th overall in the Championship, if someone had told me you'll be in the top ten at the end of the year I'd have laughed but that's the way. So first year, 8 out of a possible 9 rounds completed, so what was it like????

The year started for me just two weeks before the first round of the Championship when I finally took the plunge and bought a Suzuki SJ410.

I'd been looking for a 413 but this one came up and I couldn't refuse. Roll cage in, new tyres on, half a paint job (done on the Saturday night before the final with paint brush), numerous calls and e-mail's to Shane and Ivor Mc Clintock (he who MUST be obeyed!!) and I was ready.... OR WAS I???

First test, first obstacle and once I didn't make a fool of myself in getting a ten I didn't mind. As the day progressed the Suzuki started to develop an engine problem. Couldn't figure it out but it stayed running and I ended the day eighth overall .

I met loads of drivers on the day, some I knew before some I didn't, who were all very helpful and telling me how much fun it was. One man in particular who told me that after a couple of rounds I'd be finishing one just waiting for the next, and this was after he had just broken a trailing arm in his jeep.

Sadly that was the first and last time I ever spoke to the man as Sean Connaughton was tragically killed in a work accident shortly after the first round.

And so we arrived in Cashel to a new site and Shane had that sad news to start the day. The site looked good with some tricky ground and lots of different surfaces. Weather was lousy but everyone enjoyed the day due to the fact that it was a good days trialing and it was new ground and I ended the day still with this engine problem and in 5th place overall.

Round 3 saw us back in Tullow and still the engine problem. By now I had an idea what it was but how to fix it???? We completed the day and enjoyed it loads.

Coachford Co. Cork , and I was not a happy camper!!! A fine farm with plenty of very deceiving ground and it was wet. Looked like it was going to be a good day and then the engine problem was back, and back with a vengeance. It was a problem with the carb and sometimes the Suzuki would go and then just past gate 10 it would decide it didn't want to. It continued all day and we ended up pretty much near the end.

Round 5 was missed due to Holidays which I had arranged so I could do this round until the date was changed, so it was on to the two day in Cork. Having left home at about 7.00 and travelled down behind Edwin Pratt (who doesn't believe in speed limits through towns !!!!) and Ivor Clegg we arrived in Vernon Mount about 10.00. Now this was the test, would the modification ** I mean REPAIR (Hi Ivor!) work??????? Well yes it did. And I was really enjoying the tests. Then we headed down into the valley for the next test and at the end of that test guess what?? a full roll. Great jeering (and cheering) but we did land on our wheels. Anyway the day continued and we all went out for a meal that night. Sunday went great and we ended up 4th overall for the weekend.

This weekend really opened my eyes to the Championship. Everyone was there to enjoy themselves and to help everyone else if they could.

Round 6 saw the weather bite back. Red Bog in Blessington was the venue and the terrain was as rough as the weather. Set in a massive a sand pit in the heart of Wicklow this site proved to be one of the most challenging of the year for both man and machine. The Suzuki again went well and we enjoyed the day with the only mishap being a tyre pushed off the rim in the middle of a test.

The middle of April saw the Northern Ireland Four wheel Drive Club host a round at Lough Fea. This was the furthest I had to travel in the season and not being able to travel until Sunday morning and returning on Sunday night I was thinking of giving it a miss. But I got up a 5.30am and hit the road arriving in Lough Fea at 10.00. And when I got there I was glad I made the effort. The terrain was great. Such a mix, stoney ground, boggy patches loose rabbit sand, loads of water, an off roaders paradise.

Yes I liked it a lot. Having such a distance to travel back that night I didn't wait for the results but later found out that I had come out with maximum points for the Irish Championship on the day and first in class 1. So that was an added bonus to a most enjoyable day.

And so to the final two day in Tullow. This site is one of the nearest to me so I arrived early just as Shane was getting there. Shane had a 4x4 enthusiast from California with him who was over here for work and it was great to see all the pictures and magazines he brought with him. Certainly gave some guys some ideas for next year (Hi Karl!!!!!).

Going into this final round we were joint 5th with last years Champion Vincent Dorney and I was hoping to beat him this weekend. Saturday went good with no problems from the jeep and I was up there near the front of the scores.

Sunday came and thing didn't go as well but a lot of it was down to bad luck (and dirty Land Rovers digging holes for us). Still one can't complain we managed to beat Vincent to take 5th overall in the Championship for the year. We had a great battle all year with Jonathan Henaghan all year with Jonathan just beating us on the final Sunday.

So that was it first year competing and loved every minute of it. Thanks to everyone involved in the running of the Championship for such enjoyable competition and to all the new friends I made during the year look forward to seeing you all next year.

Anyone reading this and thinking of having a go next year feel free to ring me if you have any questions. Diarmaid Drennan (087) 2627348

p.s. SJ410 Evo. 2 will be ready for September !!