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Lakeland Stages
RALLY NEWS No.1 - Pre Start Ballinamallard - Saturday @ 09:04:04

RALLY NEWS NO.1 Ballinamallard/Saturday 08.45

Two main changes for this year’s Lakeland Stages Rally are that the rally has a new sponsor, BJT Commercials Ltd., and also the smaller class cars will run first on the road to give them the benefit of smoother forest tracks. In theory car number 40, Conor Kelly/Martin Gallogley from Beragh in their Nissan Sunny will be first on the road tackling the Blackslee stage. Approximately 15 of the small capacity cars will run ahead of the faster machinery. Then it will be car number 1, Derek McGarrity & James McKee in their Subaru WRC.

The rally is once again a round of the NI Championship, this year sponsored by Carryduff Forklift. Derek McGarrity is the current points leader. Today he is driving a 2 door 1999 model Impreza WRC. He last drove it in 2001 when he won the Townparks Rally and then put it on its roof on Rally GB! The car has just had a new engine fitted, the work only completed yesterday. Derek has had no real chance to test the car and his intention is just to try and get a few points here today and then have a real go at the Bushwhacker.

The line-up behind McGarrity is fairly impressive. At No.2 is Garry Jennings/Barry McNulty in the Impreza 555. Garry has had some superb runs in this old model car in the Southern forests this year and will certainly be going for an outright result here on his home rally. Fisher Engineering man Ian Cochrane at No.3 in his Lancer will also be looking for a good result. However the Lakeland has not been kind to Ian to recent years. Perhaps his fortunes will change this time. Jonny Greer at 4 has switched from his Citroen DS3 to his Lancer and told us he is just out for a bit of fun today. Vincent McAree at 5 is driving his usual Lancer. Monaghan man Vincent is another driver to have been clocking up some useful results in the forests this year and should go well. The top 6 is rounded off by Derek McGeehan in his Mini WRC, Derek is currently 2nd in the NI Championship points and has set his heart on a good result today.

Enda McNulty, Martin Cairns, Ray Brammer and Mark Donnelly make up the remainder of the top 10. McNulty is on the crest of a wave having won the recent Magherafelt Sunset Rally. Martin Cairns has Kevin Flanagan co-driving today. Ray Brammer has made the trip from England to compete here and told us that everything is good with the car. Mark Donnelly at 10 feels he could be a bit rusty today, not having competed in the forests since Fivemiletown. Just outside the top 10 we have a quartet of dynamic 2 wheel drive cars – Frank Kelly, Viv Hamill, Shane McGirr and Drew Stewart. Frank Kelly is at 11 and could be the benchmark. He has changed the gearing on his Escort and said. “The last time we had the car in the forests was Fivemiletown and it seemed a bit lethargic”. Alastair Fisher is at 16 in his Fiesta and he told us that he is out to enjoy his home rally and also it would be a useful warm up for next weekend’s Rally GB. Also in a Fiesta, although a 2 litre one, is 17 year old Jon Armstrong. Jon has Martin Brady co-driving and is rated as a very bright rally prospect indeed. It will be interesting to see how he goes. Jon is No.41 and will be 2nd on the road behind Conor Kelly in his Sunny with Dominic Leonard behind him in his Civic. There are few non-starters from the published list. We will bring you more on this later.
More news later: BRIAN & LIZ PATTERSON www.rallynews.net (with thanks to Michael & Zoe Patterson) Follow RallyNews on Twitter @Pacenotes or @Real_RallyNews

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