Tonya Fortune: My experiences in the rallying world
January 25, 2013 by Tonya Fortune
Hi everyone, my name is Tonya Fortune, and I’m delighted to be able to bring you my stories from my experiences in the rallying world. I am a rally driver, living and working in Wexford, and have been a motorsport and car fanatic all my life! Some of my earlier memories of rallying in Wexford were from sitting on the ditches watching Eamonn Boland on his way to four in a row with wins from 1997-2000, and ultimately I think that watching the success of local drivers is what inspired me most to try out rallying for myself! My partner in crime both in the navi seat, and in everyday life is Dan King, and our current car is a 1400cc Vauxhall Corsa, and no better place to be for a weekend’s craic!
Our career started in 2009 in a similar Corsa, with our first outing in the Wexford Mini Stages not going to plan, with both the gearbox and clutch deciding to pack in on the first stage! However, this was made up for next time out in the Wexford Dick Bailey Stages in the same year, where we took our first class win. To finish out the year we took part in some rallysprints, taking 3rd in class at the Carrick On Suir sprint in Kiltorcan, and competing twice in rallysprints at Mondello Park, including the Carlow Christmas Rallysprint, where unfortunately engine problems were to end our day.
2010 didn’t see us out again until the Carlow Stages Rally in May, as the beginning of the year was spent building a new rally car, and the one I am currently driving. Overall we were delighted with our run in Carlow taking 2nd in class, and our next event was the Stonethrowers Rally where we finished with a good clean run, despite a small excursion into the scenery on the last stage! In September we took part in our second Wexford rally, where once again we took top honours in our class. Furthermore I also won the Wexford Motor Club Junior Driver of the Year award, which really topped off my year!
2011 was a slightly quieter year for us rally wise, with only a run in the Ravens Rock Rally in June, before it was once again Wexford rally time, and our third consecutive year to take class honours. I also contested one day of the Wexford Hillclimb, and both the Tipperary and Carrick on Suir Motor Club rallysprints, on the latter of which I won the Best Junior award.
For Dan and me, 2012 was our first time to take part in a rally championship, the South East Stages. We started our campaign almost midway through the championship on the Ravens Rock Rally, taking our first 10 points and third in class. This was then followed by the Stonethrowers Rally in August, taking a further 10 points. Our final round was to be our double points round on the home event in Wexford, and here we managed to finish taking 24 points, and our fourth consecutive class win at the rally. Ultimately this was enough to secure us third in the South East Stages Junior section, only a single point off second! November saw another good run at the Carrick on Suir Rallysprint, and I went on to round off my year in Mondello, for the Carlow Christmas Rallysprint, where I took the Ladies award for my efforts, topping off a successful year.
So looking into 2013, we are once again registered for the South East Stages championship, however I plan to carry out some improvements to the car before heading back out on the stages again!
To round off, I’d like to thank my parents for all their help, and for turning out in all weathers, and at all ends of the country, to service the car for us! I’d also like to thank my sponsors, Wexford Credit Union and Somers Garage Wexford for their support. I am currently seeking sponsors for 2013, so if anyone out there can help please feel free to contact me!
Until next time, thanks for reading, and see you all on the stages!