The 2014 McGrady Insurance MSA Northern Ireland Rally Championship has been launched and McGrady Insurance and Carryduff Forklifts are continuing their association with the championship, which now has a new co-ordinator in Bob McKeown.
The championship will be decided over seven rounds across Northern Ireland, six of these on tarmac and just one on gravel, as the new rotational calendar system comes into play.
It presents the best chance of a two wheel drive car taking series honours since Stephen Mawhinnney took the 1994 title in an Opel Manta 400.
If they fail to beat the WRCs for the overall honours, they will battle it out for the Carryduff Forklift Two Wheel Drive trophy.
The WRC entry could be an interesting one, with Ballymoney’s Alan Carmichael promising a full season in a Mini WRC, and last year’s champion Derek McGarrity also now in possession of a Mini WRC.
All classes of car are equally welcome in the NIRC from the ever popular Group N class, to modified cars of all capacities and the Montgomery Motorsport Historic category. The first round commences on March 15 at Bishopscourt and concludes with the closed road Down Rally on October 18.
An unprecedented five rounds of the series are on closed road tarmac this season, as Northern Ireland rallying benefits from the use of more road closing orders. Another huge incentive introduced for this season is the NIRC joining the ‘Road to Wales’ initiative, where the overall championship winner will receive a free entry into the National section of Wales Rally GB (worth £930) and also travel assistance to the November event.
McGrady Insurance MSA Northern Ireland Rally Championship 2014 1. Bishopscourt Stages Tarmac (Single Venue) BADMC March 15 2. Circuit of Ireland National Tarmac (Closed Road) UAC April 17-21 3. Tour of the Sperrins Tarmac (Closed Road) MADMC May 10 4. Mourne Rally Tarmac (Closed Road) NMC June 7 5. Ulster National Tarmac (Closed Road) NIMC August 15-16 6. Lakeland Stages Gravel EMC September 6 7. Down Rally Tarmac (Closed Road) RMC October 18 * Bushwhacker Rally Gravel OMC September 27 * Kirkistown Stages (Single venue) NAMC October 25 (* Indicates reserve event)