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Tour of the Sperrins
RALLY NEWS No.1 - Service - Saturday @ 10:21:59

RALLY NEWS NO.1 Saturday 10.30/Service near Maghera

Today’s Tour of the Sperrins Rally has a full house entry, and all the top drivers as listed in the programme would appear to be starting. A few small changes at the top end of the list include Niall Burns now co-driving for PJ McDermott, Ronan O`Neill is along with Adrian Hetherington and Paul Hamill is co-driving for Vivian Hamill. There are 3 very attractive stages on the menu today, the first, Knockoneill, repeated three times, the other two, Gorteade and Megargy run just twice.

The rally is round four of the McGrady Insurance NI Rally Championship. Current champion, Derek McGarrity, who drives a state of the art Impreza WRC and is co-driven by Diarmuid Falvey, will head the cars over the start ramp at Walsh`s Hotel in Maghera. Following his reconnaissance Derek was full of praise for the quality of the special stages and reckons that there are tricky bits that will keep the drivers on their toes. McGarrity won the rally here last year. The driver who gave him the most trouble before his car broke down last year was Desi Henry, and he starts at No.2 today, with Paddy McVeigh at 3 in another Impreza WRC. Paddy acquired this latest Subaru just a couple of months ago and there have been a few teething troubles, so hopefully that is all behind him for today.

Scottish visitors David Bogie & Kevin Rae are No.4 in their Ford Fiesta R5+. David has won 3 forest rallies in a row with this car but on a tarmac test yesterday the front differential gave trouble. Derek McGeehan brought the crew back to his workshop in Draperstown and the diff was taken out of the car and replaced about 3 times, but still is not absolutely right. David plans to try and drive around the problem on the rally. Marty McCormack starts at No.5 in his Skoda and he has had a real scramble to get ready for the event. He had a sponsor`s day at Walters Arena on Thursday, and then had to get the Skoda back home and changed into tarmac specification for today. Derek McGeehan/Arthur Kierans in their Mini WRC round off the top 6. When we saw Derek`s pristine Mini lining up for the start ramp outside Walsh`s hotel this morning we thought we had got mixed up, that it was a different driver. But it was Derek, complete with beard!

That is just the top few of what is a brilliant entry. A few drivers are still on the reserve list but most have got slotted in and there will be 90 starters. Calvin Beattie starts 33rd on the road. He will be competing with some talented young drivers such as Rob Duggan, Jon Armstrong, Kevin Eves and Callum Devine, who will all be competing for points in the Carryduff Forklift R2 Wales initiative.

More news later: BRIAN & LIZ PATTERSON & MICHAEL & ZOE PATTERSON *Follow RallyNews on Twitter & Facebook @Pacenotes or @Real_RallyNews

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