Tour of the Sperrins // Frank Kelly’s huge jump

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The McGarrity rally machine rolled into Maghera, looking for win number four in the McGrady Insurance Northern Ireland Rally Championship and duly ended event with the Ryan Bradley Memorial MKS Tour of the Sperrins trophy. Undeterred by a chasing pack comprising of the hard-charging Desi Henry, former British Junior Rally Champion, Marty McCormack and a British and Scottish Champion, in the shape of David Bogie, Derek McGarrity led from start to finish and strengthened his already vice-like grip over the series.

Tour of the Sperrins // Frank Kelly's huge jump

The rally consisted of three tests and 7 special stages in total, set in the foothills of the Sperrin Mountains. The fast, flowing roads were punctuated by blind crests and sharp jumps, providing a short but stern test for the drivers. However, it was a test that left McGarrity unfazed. He set a pace that proved to be the benchmark. Despite the best efforts of Desi Henry, his older S9 Impreza WRC simply couldn’t match the speed or punch of McGarrity’s much newer S14 version.

Tour of the Sperrins // Frank Kelly's huge jump

If the ever-popular Frank Kelly hasn’t already secured his place amongst the cult heroes of Irish rallying, he certainly has now. In typical Kelly style, he attacked the trickiest jump of the rally with total commitment, launching his Ford Escort skywards in spectacular style. Forget Finland, it is unlikely you will see a bigger jump in any rally this year; a classic moment which will be re-run again and again.

After re-entering the earth’s atmosphere, Kelly’s Escort, nicknamed “Baby Blue”, never faltered. Frank finished 7th overall, taking class honours, ahead of Camillus Bradley.

In the Carryduff Forklifts Road to Wales Championship, three of Ireland’s most promising drivers were set to battle it out across the stages – Jon Armstrong, who had left a strong European Rally Championship field trailing in his wake at Easter, Callum Devine, winner of his class in last week in the Rally of the Lakes and Rob Duggan, who has dominated the Junior section of the Irish Tarmac Championship.

Tour of the Sperrins // Frank Kelly's huge jump

Devine, in his new Opel Adam was quickest out of the blocks, posting a string of times that not only put him first in class, but also put him inside the top ten overall. Disaster struck for Devine on stage 4, though, when a broken driveshaft ended his rally. Armstrong assumed the lead. Despite a late push, Duggan was unable to overhaul his rival and Armstrong took maximum points.

Finally, the team at RMS would like to offer our congratulations to forum member Robert Reilly for a strong drive, which saw him defy his seeding and finish 59th overall.

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About Author

Chris, known as Cess on the forums, is a long time RMS member. He is a fervent motorsports enthusiast and lover of all things automotive. He can be found on the ditches of most Irish rallies, at Mondello watching drifting or in front of the TV watching motorbike racing.

RMS Forum Comments

davecoupe 07:13 | Mon 11 May, 2015 | Report
Great article as usual @Cess. Didn't get to go as I was at a wedding, raging as it started 2 mins from my house. Great field with more WRC's on the start line than the circuit and drivers like Bogie making the trip from Scotland. Watched that video last night, baby blue definitely loves to fly. Great pic of it here from rallyphotographer on Facebook. https://m.facebook.com/Rallyphotographer/photos/a.843181549063316.1073741843.269204439794366/843181555729982/?type=1&theater
Cooper 08:06 | Mon 11 May, 2015 | Report
That jump.... is epic. Pass on congrats to Bob @Gaz, by all accounts he was flying.
Cess 11:16 | Mon 11 May, 2015 | Report
Many thanks @davecoupe and that is some picture. John O'Neill has immortailty assured now, after taking that. It's aleady one of the the classic shots of Irish Rallying. Reminds me of that crazy pic of Vincent Bonner from years ago. Amazingly well supported event with a couple of Scottish drivers over, including Bogie. I hear him say at the start line that he doesn't come over to Ireland enough and is pulling together a deal for an Escort for Donegal. The stages Magherafelt and District motorclub pulled together were superb - some of the best I've seen all year. I never realised what great rallying roads there were, right on my doorstep. I used part of Knockoneill as my scenic fun run to our house, when I'm driving back. Met a three Scottish guys on Knockoneill and they love coming here for rallying and were crazy for the place. It will be interesting to see if they run the same stages next year, as the whole world will be heading to Kelly's jump. The video has gone viral and is doing the rounds everywhere. That car must be some build, as it never missed a beat all rally. And I can confirm he was attacking the jumps where I was too. @Cooper you can pass on your congratulations in person to @bob :D Great result on a tricky rally and on closed roads too.
davecoupe 11:42 | Mon 11 May, 2015 | Report
Yup, its been immortalised already. Ive seen the video and was linked to that picture from an American site which shows how much its spread. I thought on a 400 ZP Ascona straight away when I saw it too lol Kelly's machine is easily the most airbourne escort in Ireland, he seems to love the air. He hit a telegraph pole in Donegal last year or the year before (on Gartan lake I think), he hit it easily 2/3rds of the way up the pole because we had to walk past to get out of the stage. Bogie would probably be considered a regular in Donegal at this stage, he has had a Darrian and a 6R4 over before but it would be good to see him tackling the Escort boys. Usually brings a massive following over with him too.
bob 13:34 | Mon 11 May, 2015 | Report
| That jump.... is epic. Pass on congrats to Bob @Gaz, by all accounts he was flying.
| @Cooper you can pass on your congratulations in person to @bob :D Great result on a tricky rally and on closed roads too.
Thanks guys, great roads and a mixture of everything, fast bumpy tight etc. Received a 1 minute penalty which messed up the times a bit but it was our own fault for arriving at a stage start too early. I had that Frank Kelly jump marked as flat in the notes for our first run over the stage, it was anything but flat!
Cess 15:53 | Mon 11 May, 2015 | Report
@bob - from a competitors' perspective, what was that jump like? Did you just think "I need back off?" The 1 minute time penalty is a killer, but all part of the learning process and you must be very happy with your pace!
davecoupe 16:34 | Mon 11 May, 2015 | Report
| @bob - from a competitors' perspective, what was that jump like? Did you just think "It says flat in the notes, so I'm gonna keep my foot in ........ Oh ****ing **** ****, **** ******, ***** ****'s *********, *******ing *******"

3-nicks 01:03 | Tue 12 May, 2015 | Report
| Kelly's machine is easily the most airbourne escort in Ireland, he seems to love the air. He hit a telegraph pole in Donegal last year or the year before (on Gartan lake I think), he hit it easily 2/3rds of the way up the pole because we had to walk past to get out of the stage. .
That accident your thinking on was Manus Kelly in Rodney Wilton's escort last year 200mtrs from the end of Gartan , not frank Kelly.
davecoupe 10:52 | Tue 12 May, 2015 | Report
| That accident your thinking on was Manus Kelly in Rodney Wilton's escort last year 200mtrs from the end of Gartan , not frank Kelly.
I stand corrected
bob 11:01 | Tue 12 May, 2015 | Report
| @bob - from a competitors' perspective, what was that jump like? Did you just think "I need back off?"
@davecoupe is very accurate lol, a lot of expletives followed by a lot of laughing once she'd landed!


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