Kenny McKinstry and co-driver Kenny Hull emerged victorious from the Castlewellan based Down Rally but it was Derek McGarrity and co-driver James McKee who had the largest smiles as they were confirmed as the 2013 Carryduff Forklift MSA N.I. Stage Rally Champions.
McGarrity was left celebrating before the event started as his main championship rival, Derek McGeehan, was too late to place an entry.
McGeehan had always been an outside bet to snatch the title at the last gasp but with his name absent from the entry list, there were no doubts over who would secure the 2013 accolade.
McGarrity still decided to contest the event.
Driving a Group N powered Subaru the Glengormley driver was never going to be able to match the pace of McKinstry’s S14 Impreza WRC.
In fact, McKinstry went on to secure a start to finish victory, although he did share the joint lead of the rally with nine other crews after stage one.
Desi Henry, the number two seed, retired on the opening stage with broken steering, with his Mitsubishi Evo blocking the road, nine of the following crews were unable to complete the test.
They were all awarded McKinstry’s stage time, resulting in ten crews being tied for the lead.