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RALLY NEWS No.1 - Maghera/Saturday - Saturday @ 10:09:58
A bit like a magnet attracting iron filings, drivers have arrived from all arts and parts for this Sperrins Rally. Derek McGeehan, who is competing in his Mini WRC and starts at No.3 , has put his money where his mouth is by sponsoring this Magherafelt and District Motor Club rally through his company, McGeehan Motorsport. The far travelled nature of the participants for the rally is not just that is a round of the McGrady Insurance NI Championship, but also the Valvoline Motorsport Ireland Forest series.

Currently the NI Championship is led by 6 times Champion Derek McGarrity, from Kenny McKinstry, while the Valvoline points leader starting today is Macroom’s Ger Lucey, from Michael Carbin. Derek McGarrity has the number 76 on his Fiesta WRC for today and Barry McNulty will co-drive. Barry was down to sit with Mark Donnelly in his Subaru, but the Omagh man is non-starting. Reportedly McGarrity is not too happy about running first on the road, which means he will be ‘cleaning’ the loose gravel on the forest tracks. However, Derek won the rally last year, so tradition has it that he is first on the road this time, even though the rally has switched from closed road special stages to the forest tracks through Banagher, Glenshane and Davagh.

This means that Portglenone’s Desi Henry in his Fabia R5, with Cork’s Liam Moynihan fulfilling the all-important co-driving role, now runs 2nd in the order. Desi won the last Valvoline round, mostly ‘at a canter’, over the gravel roads outside Ballyvourney, and is also fresh from competing on last weekend’s Pirelli Rally through Kielder, so he could be really sharp here today. Kenny McKinstry is at 3 in his Subaru and Kenny goes well – anytime, any place! Then at 5 is Marty McCormack, the Maghera man a real revelation this year is in his Skoda S2000. This rally could be right up Marty’s street! He has his brother Greg’s daughter Caron co-driving. A real family affair. On the subject of families, one family, the Dickson’s from Omagh, have four cars competing on the rally – top GpN contender Ashley, and his three sons Stephen, Jason and Ian, all in Fiestas. Rounding off the top six on the road is Patrick O’Brien, winner of the forestry rally in Carrick on Suir earlier this year, but beset with a couple of mechanical problems with his Lancer since.

That’s just the top half dozen – top drivers in good cars stretch well on down the list. There were 82 cars originally, but that was down to 72 last night and could be further depleted by the time the first car leaves Walsh’s Hotel at 10.00am. Some reseeds up into the top 20 include Robert Moffett No.75) in his Fiesta WRC. Scottish visitor Shaun Sinclair in his Escort (No.77) also comes up. Shaun finished well up on the Icebreaker earlier this year. Seamus O’Connell (No.82) in his Escort also comes into the top 20.

More news later: BRIAN & LIZ PATTERSON & MICHAEL P + CHRISTEL PATTERSON www.rallynews.net *Follow Rally News on Twitter and Facebook @Pacenotes or @Real_RallyNews

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