Bolton Battles On- with Sean Hassett.
July 8, 2014 by Sean Hassett
This weekend’s Sligo Stages Rally is going to be one of the biggest in Derek Bolton and Trevor O’Connell’s rally careers. The pair started rallying at the wheel of a Subaru Impreza in 2009 and have shared many successes since, but this weekend they are on the cusp of winning class 15 in the Sligo Pallets Border Rally Championship. After a troubled 2013 season, Derek rebuilt the car over the winter. A new race spec engine and a special 6 speed gearbox along with some other trick bits were employed to give him the competitive edge for the impending year. The Border Rally Championship commenced at the Mayo Stages Rally in Ballina on the 9th of March.
It was a very strong showing for the pair who finished an excellent second in the class after a troubled start to the rally. With such tight, twisty and slippery stages comprising the route it was going to be difficult to keep the rebuilt machine between the ditches. It was the worst possible start to the event as a boost pipe came loose on stage 1 and when the temporary fix failed on stage 2, they hemorrhaged time to championship rival Colin Flanagan. Two minutes is a decade in rallying but after losing this time in the morning, Derek had the bit between the teeth for the next loop and he climbed from 91st overall in the rally to 46th. But the Brusna man was not done yet, as over the last three stages he gained another 7 places and leapt into second in the class. This gave him second place points in the championship and makes us wonder what could have been without the problems in the morning.With a solid second place finish in the class in Mayo, Derek had his eyes on the top step of the podium at the second round of the championship, the Monaghan Stages Rally on the 27th of April.
The Monaghan roads really suited Derek’s driving style and the Subaru’s long gearing worked well on the fast and flowing stages. At the end of a hard day’s driving, Derek and Trevor found themselves in the lead and over two minutes clear of the second place finisher in the class. This netted them full points in the championship in the process. With main rival Colin Flanagan suffering from mechanical difficulties, this put the Mayo men at the top of the championship table. From the highest highs to the lowest lows, the next event in the calendar was the Cavan Stages Rally on the 25th of May and it would be a short event for the pair. Rallying can be a cruel sport at times, with a massive outlay of time and expenses on the run up to the rally, Derek and Trevor made it a mere 1 kilometre into the first stage before the turbo let go. This was game over for the pair and they had to pack up and go home. It was not all doom and gloom as rival Flanagan did not start the Cavan event thus leaving Derek and Trevor at the top of the table.
Going to the penultimate round of the championship this weekend in Sligo, all Derek & Trevor have to do is bring the car home on the podium to secure the championship class win. This would be the first time in five years a Mayo crew have won a class in the Border Rally Championship. The last to do so were Ambrose Gaughan and Derek Molloy back in 2009. Derek is apprehensive ahead of the weekend but would like to thank his team who have brought him this far; ‘The Breadman’ Aka Shane Kilcoyne, Caylyn Steels and the man who keeps him pointing the right direction, Trevor O’Connell. He hopes he can reward them with a strong finish in the rally and the Border Rally Championship class 15 trophy!