The 2014 McGrady Insurance MSA Northern Ireland Rally Championship was launched today by Fintan McGrady and David Greer who are synonymous with rallying, through their motorsport exploits across the UK. Both Fintan McGrady (McGrady Insurance) and David Greer (Carryduff Forklift) are experienced competitors, and are delighted to be continuing their association with the championship which now has a new co-ordinator, Bob McKeown from Cookstown.

This exciting championship will be decided over seven rounds across Northern Ireland, six of these on tarmac and just one on gravel, as the new rotational calendar system comes into play. It presents the best chance of a two wheel drive car taking series honours since the Stephen Mawhinnney took the 1994 title in an Opel Manta 400! If they fail to beat the WRC’s for the overall honours, they will battle it out for the Carryduff Forklift Two Wheel Drive trophy. The WRC entry could be an interesting one, with Ballymoney’s Alan Carmichael promising a full season in a Mini WRC, and last year’s champion Derek McGarrity also now in possession of a Mini WRC. All classes of car are equally welcome in the NIRC from the ever popular Group N class, to modified cars of all capacities and the Montgomery Motorsport Historic category.

The first round commences on 15th March at Bishopscourt and concludes with the closed road Down Rally on the 18th October. Indeed an unprecedented five rounds of the series are on closed road tarmac this season, as Northern Irish rallying benefits from the use of more road closing orders.

Another huge incentive introduced for this season is the NIRC joining the “Road to Wales” initiative, where the overall championship winner will receive a free entry into the National section of Wales Rally GB (value £930) and also travel assistance to the November event. It’s a big year for rallying in Northern Ireland, with Dungannon’s Kris Meeke contesting the WRC with Citroën, the European Championship Circuit of Ireland ahead, the 50th Anniversary of Paddy Hopkirk’s 1964 Monte Carlo victory, and now the McGrady Insurance Northern Ireland Championship is about to kick into life.

McGrady Insurance MSA Northern Ireland Rally Championship 2014- Dates
1 Bishopscourt Stages Tarmac (Single Venue) Ballynahinch & District MC 15th March
2 Circuit of Ireland National Tarmac (Closed Road) Ulster Automobile Club 17th-21st April
3 Tour of the Sperrins Tarmac (Closed Road) Magherafelt & District MC 10th May
4 Mourne Rally Tarmac (Closed Road) Newry Motor Club 7th June
5 Ulster National Tarmac (Closed Road) Northern Ireland MC 15th-16th August
6 Lakeland Stages Gravel Enniskillen Motor Club 6th September
7 Down Rally Tarmac (Closed Road) Rathfriland Motor Club 18th October* Bushwhacker Rally Gravel Omagh Motor Club 27th September* Kirkistown Stages Tarmac/loose (Single venue) North Armagh MC 25th October
(* Indicates reserve event)