McGarrity man to watch at Kirkistown

Derek McGarrity
Derek McGarrity

The Pacenotes Rally Magazine Stages Rally, round one of the 2016 McGrady Insurance MSA Northern Ireland Rally Championship takes place at Kirkistown tomorrow.

And more than 80 entries have been received for the North Armagh Motor Club rally spectacular, including three former champions, Derek McGarrity, Kenny McKinstry and George Robinson.

Six-times champion McGarrity heads the entry list in his Ford Fiesta WRC and he must be the hot favourite, having secured victory at the same venue just last month at the non-championship New Year Stages Rally.

However, hot competition will come in the form of number two seed, Kenny McKinstry.

He had led the New Year Stages event until mechanical troubles with his Subaru Impreza WRC put him out of the rally.

The Banbridge driver, who last won the title in 2011, is out to make amends this weekend.

Peadar Hurson completes the top three seeds in his Impreza WRC and is another driver who is no stranger to the top step of the podium, having won last year’s Tyrone Stages Rally.

Other World Rally Car drivers include Emma McKinstry (Impreza WRC) and Mark Massey (Fiesta WRC), while a host of Group A, Group N and two-wheel-drive cars will provide plenty of entertainment for the spectators. 

Among the leading two-wheel-drive entrants are Wesley Patterson (Escort Mk2), championship sponsor Fintan McGrady (Escort Mk2) and Dessie McCartney (Darrian T90 GTR), whose late brother Ronnie was the first ever Northern Ireland Rally Champion back in 1977, a feat he later repeated in 1980.

The event gets underway at 9.30am while the winners will spray the champagne shortly after 4pm.