A FEW weeks ago, Bantry rally co-driver Catherine Shinnors (Levis) and her husband Matt (Bruff, Co Limerick) competed in the Gorman Ridge Rally, a round of the California Rally Championship.
Apparently, it’s the oldest consecutive running rally in California and also the toughest rally in the United States.
The pair competed in a Toyota Corolla in the same team as former Irish Tarmac champion John Coyne.
The rally took place in Hungry Valley State Park, 65 miles north of Los Angeles. Interestingly, Hungry Valley was the location of the rally section of the X Games back in 2006 where Colin McRae famously rolled just before the finish line.
The event featured 16 demanding stages over the sandy desert park with the final five stages in darkness.
Catherine described the terrain as: ‘A mix of everything from narrow and twisty, fast flowing to jumpy sections and some scary cliffs edges.’
With outside temperatures in excess of 35 degrees (Celsius) the majority of local competitors had the T-shirts that were cooled with ice water flowing through them.
Catherine and Matt had a good run in their 1600cc Toyota Corolla, setting the second fastest time of the two-wheel drive crews on the first pass of one of the longer stages. They finished the second in CRS-2 (up to two-litre) class, fourth two-wheel drive car and 13th overall. John Coyne (Subaru Impreza) and co-driver Doug Nagy finished third overall.
Last February during their honeymoon in Finland, Catherine and Matt competed in the Arctic Rally in a BMW 325i. One of the stages was over 50 kilometres long and took some 40 minutes to complete during which time Catherine read out 38 pages of pacenotes.
Catherine is currently teaching in Bantry Community School.