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Tour of the Sperrins
RALLY NEWS No.1 - Pre Start - Saturday @ 09:13:11
 

RALLY NEWS NO.1 Maghera/Saturday morning

Today’s Magherafelt Motor Club Sperrins Rally has attracted a 112 strong entry. Clerk of the Course James McKeefry is naturally delighted that so many crews have stepped up to the mark, and he has laid on three challenging stages, to be driven twice. No.1 seed Derek McGarrity will drive his Impreza WRC S12C, the first time he will have driven this particular car in anger. The engine for the car only came back from Prodrive on Thursday, and Derek managed one small test in the car in preparation for today.

Seeded at 2 is current NI GpN Champion Donagh Kelly, driving the ex Connor McCloskey Focus WRC. Donagh, if he has a good run, could certainly be in the frame by the time the rally finishes in Maghera’s Walsh’s Hotel at 5.20 tonight. Actually starting 2nd on the road is Sean Devine/Robert McDaid, but carrying the No.116 on their Subaru.

As ever the battle of the Mk2 Escorts should be a sight to behold. The top two Escort seeds are Declan McNaughton and Camillus Bradley, at 3 & 4. Just some of the other top Escort drivers are Adrian Hetherington, Seamus O’Connell, Brian Brogan, Vivian Hamill and Frank Kelly. That’s just a sample, and indeed the Mk2 men could nearly have a rally all of their own!

Another big part of the rally should be the dice between the GpN division drivers, such as Raymond Johnston, Brian Muldhoon or Alan Carmichael in their respective Mitsubishi Lancers. Then there’s Trevor Ferguson and Cyril Doherty in their respective GpN Impreza’s.

Besides the Escort and the GpN entries, there are many drivers scattered throughout the entry who could have a big bearing on the eventual leaderboard. Just some of them include Sean Devine, George Robinson, Stuart Biggerstaff, Derek McGeehan and Enda McNulty. This will be Sean Devine’s first outing since winning the Lakeland Stages last year as he hurt his shoulder not long afterwards and was unable to compete.

George Robinson in his Subaru was within 3s of winner Raymond Johnston on the May Day St Angelo Rally, so he’s on form. Stuart Biggerstaff, who drives the ‘family’ Subaru and is in his first proper year of rallying, continues to go from strength to strength. As well as being a strong contender for top Junior honours, Stuart is currently the joint leader of the Hankook NI Championship with Derek McGarrity. Derek McGeehan had planned to drive his Celica, but a cylinder head has cracked, so he has switched to his Corolla WRC, with Tarmac Champion Eugene Donnelly co-driving. Enda McNulty in his GpA Mitsubishi could go very well over the jumpy moorland roads that make up the bulk of the rally.

So it goes on, there are many tantalising possibilities on this rally. Alan Carmichael keeps No.119 on his Lancer and he is running in the top 10. Kieran Graffin has No.109 on his Lancer and he starts in the top 20, as does Frank Kelly, although keeping 123 on his Escort.

On The Manx Telecom National Rally overnight, Paul Bird in his Focus WRC led from Keith Cronin (Impreza N) by 11s, with Hugh Hunter 3rd. Jonny Greer was 6th and Wesley Patterson was 12th and top Escort. On Rally New Zealand after Leg 2 Ogier leads Loeb by 5s with Latvala 33s in arrears. Finally for now best birthday wishes to Glasgow based Eamonn (Buffer) McCrystal who starts at No.40 in his Escort with Oonagh McFerran co-driving. Buffer is not quite at the “bus pass” stakes yet but he’s going that way!

More news later: BRIAN & LIZ PATTERSON www.rallynews.net
 
 
 



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