News 2018-03-11 Joe McGonigle attacks Achill Island

Joe McGonigle attacks Achill IslandJoe McGonigle & Ciaran Geaney have been waiting for this event since the end of last year and the build-up to the first round of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship has been long and too slow for Joe's liking but now, it has finally arrived. This championship has been the plan all along and the whole reason why he has been working so hard to get up to the pace with the Mini WRC. I have to say, the car looked really well with the new graphics scheme by Barney Mitchell @ Mtec Graphics, at the ceremonial start outside the Óstán Oileán Acla which hosted the event and rally headquarters over the weekend.

Joe McGonigle attacks Achill IslandIf you looked out over the island from inside on the morning of the rally, you would have thought it was going to be a gloriously sunny day. The picturesque scenery was 2nd to none but as you were lured into a false sense of security and stepped outside, you would have realised very quickly how close you were to the West Coast of Ireland and the Atlantic Ocean.

Joe McGonigle attacks Achill IslandAs Joe & Ciaran made their way into the first stage of the day, they suddenly realised that they had no confidence in handling the bumps and jumps as well as they expected. The first stage was very short and hard to make a clear assessment of the settings to the McGeehan Motorsport team who were patiently waiting on feedback from the end of the first test. They decided to press on into stage 2 where it was more obvious from more mileage in the car that the current setup didn't suit Joe or these stages and changes were needed in service. After 3 stages done and heading into the first service of the day, Joe was 4th Overall and only 5.9 seconds behind Desi Henry in third. Despite what must have felt as time slipping away from them, they held a credible position well ahead of regular championship stalwarts Niall Maguire, Kevin Barrett and Donagh Kelly. The team made a number of changes to the setup before sending the Mini back out for the 2nd loop of stages.

Joe McGonigle attacks Achill IslandAt the end of stage 4, we caught up with Joe again and straight away Joe noticed the improvements but he reckoned it wasn't enough. The car felt awesome but still made him feel too nervous over the bumps and they lacked the confidence to push on to the car's full potential. They proceeded on through stages 5 & 6 to minimise time loss and get the car back to service in one piece so that they could make another setup change only this time they chose to study the onboard camera footage to show Derek McGeehan how the car was behaving. After a quick chat, and exploring the options available the decision was made on the necessary settings for the final loop of stages to see if they could attack the bumpy stages with more confidence this time.

Joe McGonigle attacks Achill IslandGoing into stage 7 they set their target on Desi Henry in third place and wanted to compare times with the men ahead of them over the final loop of stages as a benchmark. At the end of stage 7 we compared the times and straight away they beat Desi on the short stage. Then in stage 8 on a much longer stage, they took more time back again to gain that wee bit more toward third overall. The ninth and final stage was all that was left and it was unlikely that they could improve any higher than their 4th overall position. The only thing left to do was push as hard as they could on the final stage and see how close they could get to the cars ahead of them on time. The confidence was there and the car was working brilliantly over the bumps but Joe had a moment going into a square right corner. Joe described it as like 'a 2 mile an hour incident' where they very nearly ended up in a ditch. But very luckily they managed to hang on and steer their way out of it and continue down the stage. The concern was that they had lost a lot of time and maybe even their 4th place. As it turned out they only lost 2 seconds to Desi Henry and still managed to be quicker than Niall Maguire to finish the event 4th overall just outside the podium places.

Joe McGonigle attacks Achill IslandAfter the event, Joe commented that the car was awesome. The difference in the feeling between the morning loop and the afternoon loop was like night and day. The confidence was finally there and the only problem now was that there were no more stages to be had. Everything they learned about the car over the course of the rally has made such a difference and now they cannot wait until the next round of the championship in Kerry on the 8th April.

Joe McGonigle attacks Achill IslandMany Thanks to and please credit the following photographers for their pics in this article:
Seamus Counihan @ crspics.com
Eamonn O'Riordan
Alan McGuire
Lorna Kennedy
Michael Staunton
Ruaidhri Nash Photography
Triton Showers National Championship Facebook Page (Laura & Aidan).

Joe McGonigle attacks Achill Island

Published on  April 3rd, 2018