DD Motoring: The last will be the first

DD Motoring: The last will be the first

first_imgOn Friday morning not far from Illistrin National School, near Letterkenny, a proud Donegal man, Manus Kelly will defend his title as the current winner of the Donegal International Rally as he powers the Number 1 seed his Subaru from the start line on special stage 1.Seventy six minutes later at thirty seconds intervals, (all going to plan) car number 152 will sit on the same start line to be the last competing car at the end of the field to start the Donegal Rally.This year however the last car to start the rally on Friday morning will be the first! Advertisement On Friday morning, Clive McGonigle and Steven Tinney will pull away from the start ramp of the Donegal Rally as the last seeded competing car on the road but for this crew it will be a first for them to compete on their first ever Donegal Rally. Both have never competed in a rally, but have been big fans all their lives.Steven Tinney who will compete in his first every rally when he starts in the Donegal rally next weekend as navigator. Photo Brian McDaidSteven Tinney who will do the navigating can remember heading to the Donegal rally with his father in the late 70s going down to Knockalla in the family’s two-litre Mk4 Cortina Ghia and watching the rally cars powering their way over the mountain pass.Steven, who is from St. Johnston does a bit of farming and has a quarry, has followed the Donegal rally every June all of his life. Now 42, Steven never thought he would ever sit in a rally car on the Donegal is now going to fulfill one of his life time ambitions which he says would only be possible thanks to his friend and his forthcoming team mate for the weekend rally, Clive McGonigle.Local Electrical Contractor Clive McGonigle who will swap his white transporter van for a white Mk2 Escort as he starts his first ever Donegal Rally next weekend. Photo Brian McDaidClive has also being a fan of the rallying and if the truth was told he always quietly has dreamed of doing the “Donegal” one day. Advertisement Local Electrical Contractor Clive McGonigle who will swap his white transporter van for a white Mk2 Escort as he starts his first ever Donegal Rally next weekend. Photo Brian McDaidOriginal journeyThese two Donegal lads have arrived at the signpost for the Donegal Rally on a road travelled by so many before them over the history of the event.Robert Ward once told me his story over a cup of coffee in the old Boyce’s Cafe of a brand new Mk1 Ford Escort BDA he bought which came up from Cork to Sligo on the back of the train. When Robert got as far a Sligo to collect it, the railway porters had the highly tuned Escort half flooded moving it around the station yard. Robert soon got the Ford powered up and firing back on all fours before drifting the MKI out of the railway station in Sligo and home to Donegal.Robert didn’t stop until he landed at the workshop where his wing man was ready with an angle grinder to cut into the brand new wings of the RS1600 to make room for the wider “bubble” arches which in turn would cover the wider fitted wheels and tyres. A roll cage in those days was a single bar over the centre of the driver and passenger and soon the car was ready to go rallying on the Rally of the Rosses which was to become the Donegal International Rally as we know it.The car that Clive Mc Gonigle will compete in on next weekend’s Donegal has come a bit further in distance and in time than Iarnród Éireann’s delivery of Robert Ward’s Mk1 BDA back in the day.Clive’s car started life at the other side of the world in Australia where the climate is a lot kinder to lovely cars like Ford Escort Mk2s. Henderson Motorsport in Raphoe imported the two door shell from Australia five or six years ago and were planning to build the car for hillclimbs for themselves until Clive spotted the escort shell sitting high up in the loft of the workshop in Raphoe. It may have taken Clive four years to bring the car to where it is today but boy has that being worth the wait.100% DonegalBack in the days of the first Donegal rallies, the only way of getting a good rally car was to buy an ex works one from the motorsport division of a big car manufacturer. Now there is a different way in Donegal to go rallying especially if you are going the modified Mk 2 Escort way. Over the last four years Clive McGonigle’s patience has paid off as bit by bit he has produced one stunning looking car.On Tuesday evening when we visited HASS in Raphoe. The car was sitting finished in gleaming diamond white on a lift in the middle of the workshop floor. The MK2 Escort still has a lot of work to be done with it before it goes through scrutiny next Thursday night ahead of the rally, but the level of finish of this car is second to none.The Escort sitting of the jacks at HAAS workshop in Convoy as they work to get the car ready for the Donegal Rally next weekend . Photo Brian McDaidA lot done, a lot to do. Clive McGonigle’s Escort sitting of the jacks at HASS workshop in Convoy as they work to get the car ready for the Donegal Rally next weekend . Photo Brian McDaidWhat the brilliant white paint covers beautifully is hours upon hours of craftsmanship by people like Rodney Stewart who carried out all the modifying and strengthening of the body shell at his workshop outside Ballybofey near Glenfinn. Rodney Stewart is just one of the talented motorsport people that work away on the body shells of Mk2 Escorts and rear wheel drive Corollas in Co. Donegal. At the front end of this beautiful Mk2 Escort more of Donegal’s finest motorsport engineering is on show ready to go. A brand new KGP unit sits suspended from an engine hoist within the engine bay of the car. Kevin Gallagher from Rathmullan built the engine for this car, he is better known in the wider rallying circles simply as ‘egg’!Kevin Gallagher’s company, KGP Engines will be more than likely that free revving sounding engines most spectators will hear on Donegal Rally stages next weekend as most of the Escorts, Corollas and Civics that will compete on the Donegal Rally will have KGP engines coming from this brilliant engine builder from Donegal.One of the amazing engines made by Kevin Gallagher (KGP) sits suspended on an engine hoist as they mechanics work against the clock to get the car ready for the Donegal Rally next weekend. Photo Brian McDaidOne of the amazing engines made by Kevin Gallagher (KGP) sits suspended on an engine hoist as they mechanics work against the clock to get the car ready for the Donegal Rally next weekend. Photo Brian McDaidThis two litre unit produces a lot more power than the owner of the car Clive McGonigle wanted to tell me about! But as the evening went on one of the boys working on the car whispered a BHP output number to me as he walked by.On Tuesday evening when we visited HAAS in Raphoe the boys were burning the midnight oil working late into the night on Clive’s Mk2 Escort, with the engine sitting suspended in its engine bay the team were in the process of making the exhaust system by hand from beautifully shaped stainless steel.All the suspensions and atlas diff are in place with the gearbox still to be fitted to the engine. The mechanics are confident that the car will be up and running before the weekend.Fully floating Atlas Axel to get the power for the KGP engine to the road. Photo Brian McDaidFrom Reci to RecceClive McGonigle is a self employed electrical contractor based in Convoy and has up to 11 employed at the moment and is presently completing a big job in Athlone.This Saturday morning Clive will go from RECI, the affiliated Registered Electrical Contractors of Ireland which he is a part of to doing a “Recce” of a different sort as he will join all the rest of the Donegal competitors for the forthcoming Donegal Rally at they complete this Recce (reconnaissance) of the that stages for pace notes for the Rally.This Donegal crew are naturally a bit nervous as the rally weekend end comes closer but are planning on really enjoying the rally and there number one plan is to get to the end of the event on Sunday evening.And finally…I have included a photo of a tractor pictured parked up perfectly outside St. Eunan’s College in Letterkenny on Wednesday morning.I am presuming its driver was sitting his or her Leaving Cert examination which starts the same day.A photo of a tractor parked up perfectly outside St. Eunan’s College in Letterkenny on Wednesday morning. Photo Brian McDaidI always associated the Donegal Rally with the Junior Cert, Group Cert and Leaving Cert exams, maybe it’s because it reminds me of a young Rory Kennedy who got excused from doing his exams on the Friday afternoon as his team mate, James Cullen needed him out of class to do the Donegal rally.The Glencar boys started the rally back seeded at 110 and passed nearly 100 competitors that weekend to finish 11th over all and top of their class.Happy Motoring FolksDD Motoring: The last will be the first was last modified: June 9th, 2017 by Brian McDaidShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:clive mcgonigledd motoringdonegal rallyManus Kellysteven tinneylast_img

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