After months of painstaking planning with plenty of blood, sweat and the odd tear, Laois Rallysport Club’s Heartlands Rally 2012 took place on Sunday.
The Gods smiled favourably on the weekend weather-wise and apart from being overcast on Sunday the rain held off to make conditions a bit easier out on the stages. The stages consisted of two stages which were run three times, with Stage 1 out around the Shaen/Derryguile area and Stage 2 around the Raheen/Trumera area.
After establishing themselves last year as a value for money, well organised, driver friendly, centrally located rally with road mileage kept to a minimum, the club were rewarded with entries flooding in steadily before the rally with a total of 115 entries.
Due to mechanical difficulties unfortunately, on the day, 92 crossed the start line. Among the big names who took part were Sam Smyth in his Mark II Ford Escort, John Hendy in his Toyota Corolla, Trevor Culbert in his Mark II Ford Escort and David Condell in his Mark II Ford Escort.
Local names included Brendan and Steven Hearns, Pat Delaney and Paddy Brady, Dan Gorman and Luke McRedmond, Paul Lacey and Arthur Walshe, Aaron Martley and Mark Conlon, Mark and Leona Martley, Larry and Anthony Brady and Seamus and Patrick Heaney, Christy and John Kelly, Ned and Paul Kelly, Mick Brazil and Gerard Buckley and Joe Moffitt and Cathal Martley.
From the onset it didn’t take long to sort the men from the boys, particularly on Stage 1 which was very challenging with plenty of bales. Unfortunately Pat Delaney and Paddy Brady had a run in with a bale, which the bale won, having damaged the Peugeot 206s steering and that ended their run for the day, which was very disappointing for them as they were hot on the heels of last year’s first Laois Crew home Larry and Anne Brady.
Dan Gorman was going well in his newly powered Mark II Ford Escort until clutch trouble let him down. Half way through the day Sam and Alan Smyth were enjoying a comfortable lead with John Hendy and Trevor Culbert keeping them on their toes.
As the day went on Culbert pushed ahead to take a win in a time of 57:45. Larry Brady comfortably defended his title of last year’s ‘First Laois Crew Home’ to win again this year with a time of 1:00:36, taking seventh overall.
Overall winner on the day was Trevor Culbert and Ray Fitzpatrick with a time of 57:45. Second place was Sam and Alan Smyth with a time of 57:55. Third place was David Condell and Ken Blanche with a time of 58:28
Laois Rallysport Club would like to thank their main sponsors O’Loughlin’s Hotel, Main Street, Portlaoise and Laois County Council. Laois Hire were very generous to the club with equipment which was a great help. The club would like to thank all other sponsors and especially the residents on the stages without whom the rally could not have taken place.
See this week’s Leinster Express for extensive photographic coverage. On sale across the county now.