The Carryduff Forklift MSA Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship returns to action this Saturday for round four, the Tour of the Sperrins Rally.
The focus is very much on quality rather than quantity when almost 30 crews line up for the start of the six-stage event. Based at Cookstown’s Greenvale Hotel, crews will be led off the start ramp by current Championship leader, Derek McGarrity.
The Glengormley car dealer has secured maximum scores at each of the opening three rounds of the season. He used a Subaru Impreza WRC to great effect at round one, while he used a MINI WRC to secure maximum points at rounds two and three.
He is set to make another change at the Sperrins. A Hyundai Accent WRC is his mount of choice for the event as he bids to regain the Sperrins crown which he last held in 2010.
Two years ago, McGarrity sealed the win by less than three seconds from Sean Devine. And one year earlier, he nabbed the win by an even closer margin when he emerged victorious by 1.3 seconds from Declan McNaughton’s Escort.
So it should come as no surprise to find Declan McNaughton and John Rowan seeded at number two in their Escort for this year’s event. They came close to winning the rally outright in 2009, and have high hopes of going one better with a fast and tidy run through Davagh’s lanes this year.
Starting at number three, Raymond Mason and Paul Hone are first of the Group N seeds in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9. Their Group N rivals will include Gerard McFall, Brian McFall, Jason Curran and Trevor Ferguson, who are all seeded between numbers seven and 10.
Sandwiched between Mason and the rest of the Group N contenders are three super-quick Mark 2 Escort crews. Drew Stewart, Alistair Cochrane and James Kennedy will all be tussling for the top two-wheel-drive positions.
The action kicks off at approximately 10.30am on Saturday morning with the first of six stages. The winners will cross the finish ramp at approximately 5pm. For more information, log on to www.nirally.com.
Tour of the Sperrins top 10 entries
1 Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Accent WRC)
2 Declan McNaughton/John Rowan (Escort Mk2)
3 Raymond Mason/Paul Hone (Evo 9)
4 Drew Stewart/David White (Escort Mk2)
5 Alistair Cochrane/Gary McElhinney (Escort Mk2)
6 James Kennedy/Heather Kennedy (Escort Mk2)
7 Gerard McFall/Connor O’Loan (Evo 9)
8 Brian McFall/Martin Carey (Evo)
9 Jason Curran/Barbara Love (Evo)
10 Trevor Ferguson/David McElroy (Impreza)
- McGarrity Wins Carryduff Forklift N.I. Rally Series Opener
- McKinstry’s Sperrins Steamroller Express
- Donagh Kelly Wins Down Rally Thriller!
- Cornishman Matt Cotton returns to the British Rally Championship
- McKinstry Tops Hankook N.I. Rally Series
- Glengormley’s McGarrity Wins McGrady Insurance Stages Rally
- Derek McGarrity’s Circuit of Ireland Maximum