HAVING impressed during Omagh Motor Club’s Fivemiletown Rally in February before being forced to retire, Lithuanian Martynas Samsonas returned to Tyrone for a tilt at the McKelvey Asbestos & Construction Ltd Buswhacker Rally on Saturday.
Behind the wheel of his now four-wheel-drive BMW, the Fivemiletown Rally main sponsor again showed his pace, leading the Bushwhacker for the first eight stages.
He held off Mountfield’s Patrick O’Brien and co-driver Stephen O’Hanlon, who was in inspired form behind the wheel of an R5 Ford Fiesta for the first time before having to retire on stage eight due to a blown turbo.
But the eastern European could do nothing about the hard-charging Henry, who won every stage on the second loop to overtake Samsonas on the time-sheets after stage nine before claiming a narrow eight second victory in the end, with Killyclogher’s Niall McCullagh, another recent R5 convert in an impressive third overall.
The forestry stages around Lough Braden and Killeter were a sea of dust throughout Saturday, as the dry conditions proved testing for the competitors.
Behind the top three, there were plenty of local success stories, with Strabane’s Martin Cairns, Scotland’s Jock Armstrong and Stephen Wright all entering the final stage tied for fifth overall but it was Armstrong who went on to claim the position. The Scot and his rival, Cairns, both set the same time on the final test but Armstrong got the nod on the tie-break – he was the faster of the two (by one second!) over stage one.
Cairns and his Donemana co-driver Peter Ward had a clean drive aboard their Fiesta WRC to seal sixth.
Fivemiletown’s Shane McGirr was crowned class six winner ahead of Drew Stewart and Omagh’s Owen McMackin, who was third, with Donemana’s Bob Riddles fourth.
In the other class battles, Omagh’s Austin Snow sealed the class two bragging rights ahead of Donemana’s Paul Britton in second and Castlederg’s Robert McKelvey in third and Gary Cairns fourth.
*Full results available on www.rallyscore.net