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.
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.
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.
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.