Jersey Rally: Le Noa and Volante make it a CI double
THE Roberts Garages Jersey Rally was a great success over the weekend, with Island crews taking the top three spots, including a first-ever victory for Ross Le Noa and co-driver Domonic Volante, to back up their success in the inaugural Guernsey Rally earlier this year.
There were a record number of finishers, with 52 crews crossing the line, despite weather warnings and a few crashes.
The event largely ran smoothly – and could be the best ever in terms of the public turning out to watch – despite the prangs causing disruption. Jersey hopeful Ed Fossey crashed out on Saturday morning in Waterworks Valley, alongside a Guernsey crew who pranged on ‘almost exactly the same corner’.
The Jersey Motor Cycle and Light Car Club organiser, Mick Cotillard, said: ‘The two crashes on Saturday morning were an issue, one obviously being Fossey which was a shame. The issue from an organisers’ perspective is that it caused delays to the others.
‘This meant we had massive gaps between the cars, so people might have thought it was safe to cross when it wasn’t and so on. We also had drivers spread out over three stages at one time which wasn’t good. Both are big safety issues so we made the decision to “regroup” and run it again in the afternoon, which all went smoothly.
‘I guess the biggest thing was that there were no big injuries. There were a few cars needing expensive repairs, but that’s the name of the game’.
Finishing behind Le Noa and Volante to claim second place were fellow Islanders Darryl Morris and Steve Gully in their Escort. Ross’s brother Simon Le Noa and co-driver Katie Le Blancq finished third in their ‘beautiful’ Ford Anglia.
Ross led the overall standings in his Escort Mk2 after every stage of the competition – but it was a real battle behind him, with Morris and Simon Le Noa having to fend off challenges from the likes of six-time winner Simon Mauger and co-driver Brian Cammack. The latter had to change vehicle prior to the rally, competing in an Escort, as their Lotus Elise wasn’t ready. They managed fourth place.
‘Simon Mauger was driving his father’s car’, said Cotillard. ‘His car wasn’t ready so he had to use the Escort, which he wasn’t used to, so from that perspective he did very well.
‘Ross is a rising star, he won the Guernsey Rally this year and now this, so he’s looking good. Darryl is always up there so it was another good performance from him. My son (Neil Cotillard) came fifth in a car which shouldn’t have been anywhere near that position, so he drove extremely well.’
With Storm Callum blowing in it looked set to be poor spectator weather. The Jersey public, however, really put themselves out to support the event, with some stages reporting record crowds.
Cotillard said: ‘We looked up Jersey Met office and saw it [Callum] blowing in which was worrying, but when you talk to the drivers themselves they just want to crack on. They are ready for all weather.
‘I would love to thank the general public – I couldn’t believe the crowds. There were hundreds of people. It was reported that these could possibly be record crowds, but it’s so hard to tell.’
The rally, run entirely on a volunteer basis, is growing in size and prestige year on year:
Cotillard added: ‘It must take half a year of planning, and it’s completely voluntary – nobody gets anything out of it. We don’t get any support from the States so we are so reliant on our sponsors.
‘But we are growing and becoming more and more established, so hopefully the future is bright’.
Jerseyman Mark Syvret and co-driver Chris Fox won the Rally Trophy (open to cars out of the main rally after Friday’s stages), in their Ford Escort Mk1.
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