PRM Group & RPM Motorsports Loughgall Stages 2021 – Regulations and Online Entry Submission!

Current McGrady Insurance N.I. Championship leaders, Jonny Greer and Kirsty Riddick. (Image: Jonathan MacDonald)

Regulations and Online Entry Submission are now available for round 3 of the 2021 McGrady Insurance Northern Ireland Rally Championship, the North Armagh Motor Club Ltd PRM Group & RPM Motorsports Loughgall Stages.

The event, which takes place on Saturday 21st of August, is sponsored by PRM Group & RPM Motorsports, and will feature six stages based within the confines of Loughgall Country Park.

DOWNLOAD REGULATIONS

NAMC COVID Protocol

Entries for the event should be completed online (including Online payment) at www.rallyscore.net

Entries Secretary;

Charlie Deering
Telephone +44 (0)7801 670100

e-mail: c_deering@sky.com

Loughgall Stages Rally to Host N.I. Championship Event!

Current McGrady Insurance N.I. Championship leaders, Jonny Greer and Kirsty Riddick. (Image: Jonathan MacDonald)

This year’s PRM Group and RPM Motor Sports backed Loughgall Stages Rally will host a round of the McGrady Insurance Motorsport UK N.I. Rally Championship for the first time!

Taking place on Saturday 21 August, the North Armagh Motor Club Ltd organised event will host round three of the Championship and will be held within the beautiful confines of County Armagh’s Loughgall Country Park.

PRM Group and RPM Motor Sports have agreed to sponsor the event for the first time. Managing Director, Philip Morrow, said:

“I am delighted to be associated with such a high-profile motorsport event in Northern Ireland. It provides the perfect fit for our business interests and as a keen car enthusiast, I am looking forward to seeing some of the fastest drivers in the country compete for the spoils in what is a stunning location.”

Competitors will tackle a total of six stages, all based within the confines of the park. The event’s Clerk of Course, William Fullerton, said:

“We are most grateful to PRM Group and RPM Motor Sports for their generous support, and also to Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, DAERA, AFBI Government Departments and the N.I. Forest Service for the use of Loughgall Country Park.

“We had originally planned to include a closed road stage but due to Covid restrictions imposed by the Northern Ireland Executive, unfortunately we couldn’t make it work. Instead, we will run two stages within the confines of the park that competitors will tackle three times, providing a stern challenge for all crews.

“We are also delighted to announce that spectators will be permitted into the venue but we must advise that all spectators follow the guidance issued by the Northern Ireland Executive with regards to Covid-19. The latest guidance can be found online at nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/coronavirus-covid-19.”

Formerly a two-wheel-drive only event, the Loughgall Stages has been won on the last five occasions by Damian Toner in his Ford Escort MkII. However, August’s event is expected to attract a host of powerful four-wheel-drive machinery that could dominate.

The likes of former champions, Jonny Greer and Derek McGarrity, as well as a number of other championship contenders, are expected to continue their battle for the McGrady Insurance crown in Loughgall.

Regulations and entry forms will be available from Sunday 1 August. Competitors will have the opportunity to walk or cycle the stage from 4-9pm on Friday 20 August and from 7-8.30am on Saturday 21 August.

The action will start at 9.30am with all six stages held on tarmac roads. Admission to the event is £10 for adults (which includes a programme) while accompanied children under the age of 16 are admitted free. For more information, visit namcc.com.

ENDS.

Notes for Competitors

– Regulations and entry forms will go live on rallyscore.net at 7pm on Sunday 1 August.

– Competitors will have the opportunity to walk or cycle the stage from 4-9pm on Friday 20 August and from 7-8.30am on Saturday 21 August.

Note for Editors

Photo caption: Current McGrady Insurance N.I. Championship leaders, Jonny Greer and Kirsty Riddick. (Image: Jonathan MacDonald)

For more information, contact McGrady Insurance N.I. Rally Championship Press Officer, Jonathan MacDonald, on 07989 283055 or email news@irally.com.

Champion Wright Takes First Blood at 2020 NI Championship Opener!

Reigning Northern Ireland Champion Stephen Wright has secured his second consecutive victory at the Pacenotes Rally Magazine Stages, round one of the McGrady Insurance Motorsport UK NI Rally Championship!
 
Navigated by Gary McKenna, Wright mastered the treacherously wet and windy conditions to secure the win at the North Armagh Motor Club event by 5.2 seconds from Derek and Mark McGeehan, with former champions Derek McGarrity and Paddy Robinson third.
 
It was the McGeehan father and son pairing who were fastest over the opening stage in their Mini WRC with Wright trailing close behind. Champion Wright was mindful of making a mistake early in the event after a couple of spins during his last visit to the Kirkistown venue made his bid for victory more difficult than it should have been.
 
However, with the first stage safely behind him, Wright started to mount a charge for the lead. He was fastest on stage two and moved into the rally lead with another fastest time over the third test.
 
The margins were tiny and with little room for error in the wet conditions, crews had to be inch-perfect around the venue. Wright continued to edge ahead and going into the final stage, he had 7.6 seconds in hand over his rivals.
 
In a final twist in the tale, the rally leaders were caught behind another competitor during the second lap of the final test. They started to panic and quickly looked at the stage times after they arrived at the finish. They still set third fastest time and it was enough to secure the Pacenotes Rally win by 5.2 seconds!
 
“It was hard work in there today!” Wright said after the finish. “I didn’t want to make a mistake this morning so I kept it tidy and safe on the first stage. It’s great to get the win and lead the championship again.”
 
While Wright sealed victory, Derek and Mark McGeehan were embroiled in a battle for the runner-up position with Derek McGarrity and Paddy Robinson. It was McGarrity’s first event in the wet with his Skoda Fabia R5 and he used the opening stages to settle in.
 
Initially trailing the McGeehans by seven seconds, he started eating into their advantage and was just two seconds adrift after stage four but then it all went wrong through a very wet fifth stage.
 
“Someone must have hit the (directional) arrows on part of the circuit as they’re pointing different directions,” McGarrity said. “I got a bit confused and ended up adding an extra 100 yards to our stage because we took a longer route!”
 
The incident cost him some precious seconds and he was forced to settle for third behind the father and son McGeehan team.
 
“We hit a bad rut in the concrete section on the second stage,” McGeehan recalled. There was a vibration in the car after that so I thought we had a puncture and backed off.”
 
It cost the crew some time but not enough to make any difference in the end result with Wright emerging as the deserved winner.
 
3rd – 10th
 
Outside the top three, there was plenty of drama through the field. Gareth Sayers and Ash Boulton lost around 20 seconds when their engine spluttered to a halt midway through the event. It eventually fired up again, allowing them to accelerate home in fourth.
 
Jason Mitchell and Kenny Bustard acquitted themselves well on their first attempt at a round of the Northern Ireland Championship in their Fiesta R5. They came home in fifth with Scottish visitor Barry Groundwater, who had Neil Shanks calling the notes, claiming sixth after a tie-break with Emma McKinstry and Kenny Hull.
 
Both had their fair share of dramas with McKinstry losing time after a spin and a stall. Groundwater also lost time with a spin at the end of the gravel section but he just managed to nip into sixth at the last gasp in his Impreza WRC while McKinstry had to be content with seventh.
 
And breathing a sigh of relief at the finish were Alan and Lucy Carmichael in their Fiesta R5. They day featured a big spin, and overshoot and a failing centre differential, plus copious amounts of muddy water inside their car!
 
Rounding off the top 10 were the leading two-wheel-drive contenders. Keith White and Gavin Campbell enjoyed an intense battle with husband and wife team, James and Heather Kennedy. It was Escort MkI versus Escort MkII and in the end, the MkI belonging to White won the day.
 
The Kennedys had held an early advantage but White powered through to take the category win and well as ninth overall with James and Heather forced to settle for the runner-up position and 10th overall. However, both crews won their respective classes.
 
And the rest…
 
Some of the leading retirements during the day include former champion, Kenny McKinstry. He had a dreadful start to the event when his wipers failed to work on the opening stage and he also lost first gear. The problems were fixed for stage two but he later exited the event due to mechanical problems on the fifth stage.
 
Gary and Keith McEvoy returned to competition for the first time in a few years but unfortunately their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo was forced out with transfer box failure.
 
Others in the wars included Philip Allen and Mark Kane. They had a big spin on the grass during the early stages and then Allen’s gearstick detached itself midway through a stage! Undeterred though, Allen plans to contest this year’s championship.
 
Kieron Graffin and Clive Kilpatrick were also in a spot of bother when their powersteering failed. They ran wide on a few corners and arrived at the finish of a stage with a trackside tyre sticking out of their front bumper. Then they lost their bumper in its entirety on the final stage!
 
Wesley Patterson and Johnny Baird commented after stage two that they just wanted to finish the event without any dramas…and then proceeded to slide off the track on the following stage. Thankfully, no damage was done!
 
Dominic McNeill and Tommy Speers damaged something in their Fiesta’s drivetrain during the final stage which forced them to head home slightly earlier than expected and spare a thought for Matthew and Chloe McAllister who had a substantial impact with a bale in their Subaru.
 
Next Round
 
The next round of the McGrady Insurance NI Rally Championship will be held at Bishopscourt Race Circuit on 7 March. Visit nirallychampionship.com for more information.

Results (Top 10)

1 Stephen Wright/Gary McKenna (Ford Fiesta R5) 31m38.4s
2 Derek McGeehan/Mark McGeehan (Mini WRC) 31m43.6s
3 Derek McGarrity/Paddy Robinson (Skoda Fabia R5) 31m57.3s
4 Gareth Sayers/Gareth Gilchrist (Ford Fiesta R5) 32m34.1s
5 Jason Mitchell/Kenny Bustard (Ford Fiesta R5) 33m12.4s
6 Barry Groundwater/Neil Shanks (Subaru Impreza WRC) 33m19.3s
7 Emma McKinstry/Kenny Hull (Ford Fiesta R5) 33m19.3
8 Alan Carmichael/Ivor Lamont (Ford Fiesta R5) 33m25.3s
9 Keith White/Gavin Campbell (Ford Escort MkI) 33m29.1s
10 James Kennedy/Heather Kennedy (Ford Escort MkII) 33m37.3

Link to full results HERE

Pacenotes Rally Magazine Stages Rally 2020 – Final Instructions No 1, Scrutiny Schedule and Seeded Entry List!

Final Instructions No 1, Scrutiny Schedule and Seeded Entry List now available to download below;

Final Instructions No 1

Scrutiny Schedule

Seeded Entry List

Reigning Champion Heads Entry for New Look N.I. Rally Championship Opener!

The McGrady Insurance Motorsport UK Northern Ireland Rally Championship gets into gear this Saturday (15 February) with round one of the new-look series at Kirkistown Race Circuit!

Organised by North Armagh Motor Club, the Pacenotes Rally Magazine Stages hosts the opening event of the new five-round championship and will feature almost 80 rally cars battling for supremacy around the County Down venue.

The entry list is filled with some of the fastest drivers in the country including reigning champion, Stephen Wright, as well as a number of former champions. Combined with a strong contingent of machinery that includes almost 20 World Rally Cars and latest specification R5 rally cars, there will be millions of pounds worth of machinery hurtling around the race track!

The Contenders

County Monaghan’s Stephen Wright claimed his maiden Northern Ireland Rally Championship title last year and started his 2019 campaign with victory at Kirkistown. He’s back with his Ford Fiesta R5 to defend his Kirkistown crown and will lead the field off the start line and into the first of six special stages.

Derek McGarrity (Glengormley) is among the main contenders and he targets a record-making ninth N.I. Championship title. With regular navigator, Paddy Robinson, on board, McGarrity is aiming to make amends for last year’s opening round retirement and challenge for the spoils in his Skoda Fabia R5.

Interestingly, McGarrity’s son, Michael, will also be in the fray with the only Super 2000 specification car in the field. His Peugeot 207 S2000 adds to the variety of rally cars in action on Saturday.

Keeping with the family connections, Derek McGeehan and his navigating son, Mark, who became the youngest ever navigators’ champion when he won the 2019 title at the age of 17, are also back for an attack on the series with their Mini WRC. The Draperstown team led the title race for much of 2019 thanks to a string of consistent results but Derek lost out on the drivers’ title by a handful of points.

Kenny McKinstry is another former champion in search of success. The Banbridge ace will tackle the event in his Subaru Impreza WRC while his daughter, Emma, will drive the family’s hire car – a Ford Fiesta R5.

Also driving Fiesta R5s are a host of other drivers that include Alan Carmichael (Ballymoney), Philip Allen (Cookstown), Gareth Sayers (Castlederg), Kieron Graffin (Toomebridge), Chris McGurk (Portglenone), Jason Mitchell (Strabane) and Joe McQuillan (Carnlough).

McQuillan was one of the surprises of last year’s rally as he finished sixth overall on what was his second event with a World Rally Car. It’s all change again for the Carnlough man as he makes his debut drive with a Fiesta R5 on Saturday.

Two-Wheel-Drive

The two-wheel-drive contingent includes an equally strong array of rear-wheel-drive and front-wheel-drive machinery. Topping the entries are a host of Escort MkI and Escort MkII crews that include Wesley Patterson (Lisburn), Keith White (Nutts Corner), James Kennedy (Antrim), Drew Stewart (Antrim), William McClurkin (Crumlin) and Birmingham visitor, Oliver Benton.

Adding a sprinkling of variety to the two-wheel-drive field is the BMW Compact of reigning class seven champions, Niall and Ciaran Carey (Cushendall and Magheralin), while Ballygowan’s Roy Haslett and Gavin Larmour are back with their beautiful Ford Escort F2 Kit Car.

Bready’s Derek Gurney always provides great entertainment in his Sierra and Drumbo’s Robert Erwin usually sets the timesheets alight in his rear-wheel-drive Toyota Corolla.

New for 2020

New for this year is an ultra-competitive class three that’s full of Nissan Micras! With regulations requiring crews to use the same ‘control’ tyre, former Junior champion, Philip White, will have some intense battles with the likes of Stephen Whitford, Pete Dowds, Laura Phillips (who will have her former N.I. Champion father, Robin, navigating) and Barry Meeke, the brother of former WRC driver Kris!

Schedule

The Pacenotes Rally Magazine Stages will feature six stages all held within the confines of Kirkistown Race Circuit. The first stage is due to get underway around 9.30am. Spectators are welcome to attend with an entrance fee of £15 payable at the gate. Regular event reports will be available throughout the event from fb.com/nirallying. For more information, visit nirallychampionship.com.

Top 10 Seeded Entries

1 Stephen Wright/Gary McKenna (Ford Fiesta R5)
2 Derek McGarrity/Paddy Robinson (Skoda Fabia R5)
3 Derek McGeehan/Mark McGeehan (Mini WRC)
4 Kenny McKinstry/TBA (Subaru Impreza WRC)
5 Alan Carmichael/Ivor Lamont (Ford Fiesta R5)
6 Philip Allen/Mark Kane (Ford Fiesta R5)
7 Gareth Sayers/Gareth Gilchrist (Ford Fiesta R5)
8 Kieron Graffin/Clive Kilpatrick (Ford Fiesta R5)
9 Dominic McNeill/Tommy Speers (Ford Fiesta)
10 Wesley Patterson/Johnny Baird (Ford Escort MkII)

Pacenotes Rally Magazine Stages Rally 2020 – Regulations and Online Entry Submission!

2019 Winners – Stephen Wright / Keith Rainey
Photo courtesy of Gary Craig Motorsport Photography

Regulations and Online Entry Submission are now available for round one of the 2020 McGrady Insurance Motorsport UK Northern Ireland Rally Championship, the North Armagh Motor Club Ltd Pacenotes Rally Magazine Stages Rally.

The event, which takes place on Saturday 15th February, is sponsored by Pacenotes Rally Magazine, and will feature six stages based within the confines of Co.Down’s Kirkistown Motor Racing Circuit.

DOWNLOAD REGULATIONS

Entries for the event should be completed online (including Online payment) at www.rallyscore.net

Please submit your competed online entry form, including the appropriate fees and seeding information promptly in order to allow us as organisers to be able to confirm the running of the event and the availability of all the necessary services and equipment at the earliest date possible.

***YOUR ENTRY WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED UNTIL YOUR ONLINE ENTRY FEE PAYMENT HAS BEEN RECEIVED***

In order to score points in the McGrady Insurance Motorsport UK Northern Ireland Rally Championship, competitors MUST register. Registration for the Championship must be completed (including payment of the £25 registration fee) via www.rallyscore.net no later than 09:00hrs on the date of the first event they wish to count as a scoring round. Only those competitors who are members of North Armagh Motor Club Ltd will be eligible to score points towards the NAMC Club Championship. It is strongly recommended that Championship registration is completed at the same time as completion of the event entry.

Entries Secretary;

Keith Somerville
Mobile: 07745 959141
Email: keithsom54@gmail.com

Ballylisk Car Sales Orchard Country Targa Rally – Final Instructions No 1 & Entry List!

Final Instructions No 1 and Entry List for this Saturday’s Ballylisk Car Sales Orchard Country Targa Road Rally…

FINAL INSTRUCTIONS No 1

ENTRY LIST

Ballylisk Car Sales Orchard Country Targa Rally – Regulations and Online Entry Submission!

Regulations are now available for the Ballylisk Car Sales Orchard Country Targa Rally. The event takes place on Saturday 12th October and will be based in Loughgall Country Park and a number of nearby locations.. Entries close on Saturday 5th October.

Entries Secretary:

Keith Somerville E: keithsom54@gmail.com M: 07745 959141

DOWNLOAD REGULATIONS

ENTER EVENT (ONLINE ENTRY)

Rainbow Communications Loughgall Country Park Rally – Results!

1st Overall North Armagh Motor Club Rainbow Communications Loughgall Stages Rally 2019 Damian Toner / Ronan Comerford Fort Escort MK2
Photograph Credit Gary Craig Motorsport Photography

Results now available to download below;

RESULTS

Rainbow Communications Loughgall Country Park Rally – Entry List, Final Instructions No 1 and Scrutiny Schedule!

Entry List, Final Instructions No 1 and Scrutiny Schedule now available to download below;

Entry List

Final Instructions No 1

Scrutiny Schedule

TONER GOING FOR FIVE IN A ROW AT LOUGHGALL RALLY

Damian Toner won the Loughgall Rally in 2015 and every year since and now goes for five in a row in his MK2 Escort and is set to headline the entry list received by North Armagh Motor Club Ltd. for this weekend’s Rainbow Communications Loughgall Country Park Rally.

This is the 21st Year off the Rally at Loughgall and with still a few days to go before the entry closes the Club is expecting over 60 Cars.

Other entries hoping to spoil Damian’s run will be Wesley Patterson – MK2, James Leckey – Subaru Impreza, Mervyn Wedlock – MK2, Seamus Morris – Darrian, John Devlin – MK2, James Kennedy- Mk2, and Adrian Hetherington – Mk2 among others.

Organisers North Armagh Motor Club Ltd are most grateful to event sponsor Rainbow Communications, for their generous support, Armagh City Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council  for their support and also DAERA & AFBI Government Departments for the use of their part of the splendid Loughgall Country Park, the perfect venue for this event.

Rally action begins at 9.30am and will include six Special Stages using 100% tarmac roads and will conclude at 5.00pm.

Admission to the event for adults is £10 including programme and accompanied children under the age of 16 are admitted free.  Spectators can also enjoy the Historic and Classic car display adjacent to the paddock area where refreshments will also be available.

Scrutineering and administration takes place from 4.00pm on Friday 5th July at Loughgall.

We need Marshals and anyone willing to help, please contact Caroline McGuinness on 07792 037441.

For further information please contact William Fullerton at North Armagh Motor Club Ltd on 07703 219742 or Barry Taggart on 07771 892423

Burkes of Cornascriebe May Targa Rally – Final Instructions No 1 & Entry List!

Final Instructions No 1 and Entry List for this Saturday’s Burkes of Cornascriebe May Targa Rally…

FINAL INSTRUCTIONS No 1

ENTRY LIST

Rainbow Communications Loughgall Country Park Rally – Regulations and Online Entry Submission!

Regulations and Online Entry Submission (including Online payment) are now available for our Rainbow Communications Loughgall Country Park Rally.

The event, which takes place on Saturday 6th July, is sponsored by Rainbow Communications, and will feature six stages (100% tarmac surfaces) based within the confines of Loughgall Country Park Co Armagh.

DOWNLOAD REGULATIONS

ENTER EVENT (ONLINE ENTRY)

***YOUR ENTRY WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED UNTIL YOUR ONLINE ENTRY FEE PAYMENT HAS BEEN RECEIVED***

ENTRIES RECEIVED

Burkes of Cornascriebe May Targa Rally – Regulations and Online Entry Submission!

2018 Event Winners – Paul Mooney / J Bell
Photograph Credit Derek Smyth

Regulations and Online Entry Submission (including Online payment) are now available for the Burkes of Cornascriebe May Targa Rally. The event takes place on Saturday 25th May and will be based at Loughgall Football Club and the premises of DS Refigeration Ltd.

DOWNLOAD REGULATIONS

ENTER EVENT (ONLINE ENTRY)

***YOUR ENTRY WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED UNTIL YOUR ONLINE ENTRY FEE PAYMENT HAS BEEN RECEIVED***

The Price is Wright!

Stephen Wright and Keith Rainey have won the Pacenotes Rally Magazine Stages Rally, round one of the McGrady Insurance Motorsport UK Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship!
 
After what was a drama-filled day, Wright powered his Ford Fiesta R5 to the finish line 6.2 seconds ahead of the Skoda Fabia R5 belonging to Darren and Nathan Gass while Derek and Mark McGeehan were third in their Mini WRC.
 
The event started with Derek McGarrity and Kieron Graffin setting the pace in their ex-Martin Cairns Ford Fiesta WRC. The crew simply annihilated the field on the opening stage when they emerged more than eight seconds clear of nearest rival Wright.
 
McGarrity continued to set the pace over the ensuing tests while others haemorrhaged time. Wright dropped down the order with a couple of spins while Darren Gass incurred a 10-second penalty for cutting a corner.
 
“We went on the inside of a tractor tyre to get past another car on the second stage,” Gass explained. “We had probably already lost 10 seconds being stuck behind them!”
 
However, it all changed when the heavens opened just before the start of stage four. As the crews started to line up for the start, a deluge of rain at the Kirkistown Race Circuit venue transformed the conditions.
 
Many of the front-runners were caught out on the wrong tyres, including rally leader McGarrity, who caught another car and seemingly dropped 25 seconds to the fastest time set by Wright.
 
“Our time for that stage is 30 seconds slower than it should be,” McGarrity said at the time. “OK, we’re still leading but that’s not the point. I don’t know if it’s going to be corrected or not.”
 
The erroneous time dropped him into the clutches of Stephen Wright. He had set fastest time on the test and jumped from seventh overall into second position, just 4.4 seconds behind McGarrity.
 
However, the suspect time was to be the least of his worries. He was back on form through stage five and set another fastest time – his fourth of the day – to lead the event by 5.4 seconds with one stage remaining. Then disaster struck.
 
After the finish of the stage and as he returned to his service bay, flames were spotted under the bonnet of his Fiesta WRC. His crew grabbed the fire extinguishers and extinguished the fire but his Fiesta was going no further.
 
“The car became too hot and melted a pipe,” one of his mechanics explained. “It was a plastic pipe so we couldn’t fix it for the final stage.”
 
McGarrity’s exit put Stephen Wright in prime position for the rally win. He entered the final test with 4.8 seconds in hand over Darren and Nathan Gass. Another solid run ensured that the Newbliss man secured victory as well as maximum points in the McGrady Insurance N.I. Rally Championship!
 
“We made life difficult for ourselves!” Wright admitted, referring to his two spins. “We dropped quite a lot of time on stages two and three but then we got a lucky break with a good tyre choice on stage four. We were a bit fortunate in that our seeding was quite far back so we had a bit more foresight (when it came to the weather conditions and tyre choice) than the rest of our competitors.”
 
“I’m very happy with the day out and it was great to have Keith navigating for me. He’s always on the spanners and always keeping this car in absolutely top shape. It was great to have him alongside and he was able to tweak things through the day to help get us here.”
 

He added: “We didn’t set out this year with any particular championship in mind…but this win certainly makes it more tempting to do the Northern Ireland Championship!”
 
Coming home in second position, Darren and Nathan Gass were left rueing that 10-second penalty but the crew were gracious in defeat as they congratulated the rally winners.
 
“We caught other competitors on almost every stage,” a resigned Gass said, “but what can you do? It’s the nature of these events.”
 
In third overall, Derek and Mark McGeehan echoed Gass’ thoughts.
 
“Catching cars is always an issue,” Derek said. “We had it four times in a row but we still had a good day.”
 
The Mini WRC crew were pleased with the result, especially after the opening stage when they couldn’t understand how they were so much slower than early leader McGarrity. However, they picked up the pace to rise from a low point of seventh overall to finish in the top three.
 
Former N.I. champion, Kenny McKinstry, didn’t escape unscathed in the difficult conditions as he was another driver who lost time with a spin. He kept his head together and eventually finish fourth overall ahead of Alan Carmichael and Samuel Hamill who enjoyed a day of testing their Hyundai R5.
 
“We had some big drifts and the car handles brilliantly,” a delighted Carmichael said. “It does everything well. It’s so nimble compared to everything else. I came out for a good test and that’s what we had so I’m happy.”
 
Joe McQuillan and Charlotte McDowall were equally delighted with their sixth overall finish. They lost a few seconds with a misfire but ultimately it didn’t cost them a position at the finish.
 
It was McQuillan’s second event in his Impreza WRC and he also emerged victorious in his much-hyped battle with friend and rival, Brian Watson, who lost time on the opening stage with power-steering trouble.
 
Sean Devine made a successful return to the N.I. Championship after a long layoff. Navigated by Sean Ferris, they spent the day learning their new mount in preparation for the long season ahead.
 
“It was my first day out in the car and I’ve got a lot to learn but I enjoyed it,” Devine revealed. “I’m looking forward to doing the full Northern Ireland Championship.”
 
Two-Wheel Drive
 
In the two-wheel drive battle, it looked as though Keith White and Paul Mulholland were going to edge away with the category win until rain struck on that fourth stage. The crew were caught out on the wrong tyres and dropped like a stone behind their main rivals.
 
“We were never going to catch James Kennedy after that fourth stage,” White said. “So I just slid the car about on the last stage and enjoyed it.”
 
Instead, it was the reigning two-wheel drive champions, James and Heather Kennedy, who claimed the category victory. They had trailed White until the wet stage four gave them an opportunity to move in front.
 
Running a bit further down the order, Kennedy had the opportunity to fit some wet tyres to his Escort and powered into the lead. That proved to be the turning point of the event and he stayed in front to claim the category win as well as eighth overall.
 
“I wasn’t looking forward to the wet at all but we had a really good run,” Kennedy said. “We had a small overshoot in the morning and I thought the power in Keith’s Escort was helping him to edge ahead in the dry conditions but then it all changed.”
 
White eventually finished second in the category, just outside the top 10 overall, while John Devlin and John McCarthy were third ahead of Fintan and Cormac McGrady.
 
Gareth and Jonathan Nevin were fifth in class and 19th overall, just a couple of seconds ahead of Drew Stewart and David White who lost third and fourth gear midway through the day. Luckily, they had a spare gearbox with them and their service crew swapped the ‘box during service, keeping them in the rally.
 
Unfortunately for Kyle White and Alan Purdy, they weren’t as lucky. They lost all drive towards the end of stage three and although they managed to finish the test, a damaged ignition coil put them out of the rally.
 
“It’s only a £15 part,” explained his father, Gary White. “We walked around to try and find a petrol road car that could donate the part to keep him in the rally but we couldn’t find a suitable car.”
 
And The Rest…
 
Richard Tannahill used the event to bed himself back into the groove after his last rally resulted in an accident. He and navigator Cheryl Tannahill climbed four places on the final stage to seal ninth overall from the Impreza belonging to James Leckey and Jordan Murphy.
 
With Keith White in 11th and Brian Watson in 12th, Liam McFall and Matthew McKenna enjoyed their debut drive with the ex-Niall Henry Evo X to take 13th ahead of the Fiesta WRC belonging to Dominic McNeill and Tommy Speers.
 
Interestingly, this year marks Speers’ 51st year competing in motorsport!
 
Others worth mentioning include Jonny and Simon Morrow in their stunning Mitsubishi Mirage RS. They lost a bit of time with a misfire but claimed 16th overall from the Mini WRC belonging to Nigel Feeney and Nikki Addison, who enjoyed their first visit to the Kirkistown venue.