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RALLY NEWS No.1 - Maghera - Saturday @ 12:02:45
RALLY NEWS NO.1 Maghera/Saturday morning……

This Magherafelt Motor Club Sperrins Rally has attracted a stunningly good entry. All is looking good for what will almost certainly be an exciting, if tough, compact rally. Sadly there has been somewhat of a shadow though, in that the well known Scrutineer and service mechanic, Clifford Law, died suddenly on Wednesday evening. We offer our condolences to his wife Susan, son and daughter Jonathan and Christie, plus the wider family and friends. Clifford was 57 and from Ballymena. He worked selflessly and tirelessly on many rallies over the years. Disrupting the Sperrins in his memory would have been the one very definite thing he would not have wanted. All involved pay their respects. Clifford was one good guy. He will be missed.

Following scrutineering, which was extended to cover Clifford`s absence, everything stays on schedule, as Clifford would have wished. The rally starts at Noon from Walsh`s Hotel Maghera, with the first of the six stages at 1pm. Camillus Bradley is No.1 seed in his Escort on the strength of his Sperrins win last year. It was a different rally 12 months ago of course and the undoubtedly superbly talented Camillus will be hard pushed to make an impression on the range of world rally machinery he is up against this time. Not just WRCs either – there is an outstanding entry of other Escorts, GpN machinery and the latest breed of rally cars such as the DS3R3s of Desi Henry and the Pirelli backed example of Mark Donnelly.

Just some of the top Escort men include Alastair Cochrane, Keith White, David Armstrong, Vivian Hamill and Declan McNaughton. Donegal man Brian Brogan has come in at the last minute and runs at number 106. Top GpN contenders include James Laverty, Trevor Ferguson, Kieran Graffin, Liam McFall and Kevin Barrett`s son Paul. The younger Barrett carries the number 89 on his Lancer, but starts just outside the top twenty. Two more GpN Lancers slotted into the top twenty include Stanley Ballantine (No.100) & Colm McFall (101).

Derek McGarrity, Donagh Kelly and Kevin Barrett in Impreza WRCs, Derek McGeehan and racing man Stephen Kane in Mini WRCs, former Sperrins winner Peadar Hurson in an Escort WRC, are just some of the drivers sure to be in the thick of the battle for supremacy today. Mr Dentman Damien Connolly is co-driving for Peadar and Damien`s wife Majella has just brought a new wee future co-driver into the world – baby Bobby!).

One of the major aspects of the rally will be the points battle in the Carryduff Forklifts backed NI Championship. Current leader is Derek McGarrity on 24 points, with Kevin Barrett and Derek McGeehan tying for 2nd with 18 and top GpN exponent James Laverty 4th o/a on 13. Jonny Leonard is 5th and really on the case in his GpA Lancer. There are loads of class battles as well of course, which should make for some frantic action throughout the 100 strong entry.

Just some of the last minute changes to entry include Darren Gass, Rodney White and Fintan McGrady are not starting. George Robinson/Tommy Speers have withdrawn their GpA Lancer as Clifford Law was due to be one of their mechanics on the rally and the funeral is now at 2pm in Ballymena today. Co-drivers slotted in include Michael Orr taking a break from the WRC to sit with Derek McGeehan. Jasmes McKee is now with Derek McGarrity. Damien Duffin is with Desi Henry. In the last minute entry department we have Mark Donnelly/Barry McNulty (No. 104), and Letterkenny man John O`Donnell (No.105) in his Impreza WRC.
More news later: BRIAN & LIZ PATTERSON www.rallynews.net *Follow RallyNews on Twitter @Pacenotes or @Real_RallyNews

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