Garry Jennings and co-driver Rory Kennedy took a convincing victory on the Newry Motor Club’s closed road Mourne Rally on Saturday. The event for Fermanagh’s Jennings was all about shaking down his S12B Impreza WRC for the Donegal International, not scoring points for the MSA ANICC McGrady Insurance Northern Ireland Rally Championship, and on that score, Derek McGarrity’s second place in his Fiesta WRC puts the six times Northern Ireland rally champion back on course towards a record seventh title. “It was a very good rally and quite a big rally” said Derek. “I didn’t go to the event to race Garry, he’s match fit, and going well and I had to get used to a new co-driver also. We had our job to do and I’d no tarmac driving in the car since the Circuit of Ireland. We had a steady start then built up the pace, and this time the car ran perfectly. We just stiffened up and suspension later on and the car was brilliant to drive.” Indeed the Glengormley driver’s plans for any testing before the event were scuppered when he ended up in hospital for two days with a throat infection, but it worked out well in the end for the round two winner.
With the cancellation of the first stage, stage two Deadmans Hill started the action and it was Jennings who led from the front. A magnificent second overall however was local ace Damien Toner in his MK2 Escort, a position he held until the penultimate stage where he was delayed with a puncture and a charging McGarrity snatched the position. Damien’s brother Marty was showing well in his modified Sunbeam, fifth overall early one before engine trouble caused his retirement. Indeed despite the dry conditions the retirement’s list grew rapidly, just forty-four finishers from seventy-seven starters and another late retirement with an accident was top Group N runner Simon Woodside whilst in tenth overall. It was Clive Kilpatrick who took Group N honours with his similar Evo in seventh as MK2 Escort’s filled many of the top ten places. Former winner Davy Armstrong, a Mourne master in the past took his example to an excellent fourth, just 0.9 of a second in front of Draperstown’s Camillus Bradley who took second fastest overall time behind Jennings on the final Ballydougerty stage in his efforts to pass Bradley. Trevor and Glenn Wilson from Keady took their Escort into sixth and first in class six, with Alan Nesbitt’s Escort eighth. Adding variety to the top ten was class four winner Alan Smyth in ninth with the striking Suzuki Swift Super 1600, and John Devlin tenth in his modified Talbot Sunbeam.
Other significant finishers included another former Mourne rally winner Norman Armstrong in eleventh, championship sponsor Fintan McGrady in fourteenth, and Alastair Cochrane who lay third in the series entering this round a lowly twentieth after a stage maximum on stage two. Drew Wylie with his Escort RS1800 took historic honours in twenty-second. Overall it was a much enjoyed event put on by the enthusiastic Newry Motor Club.
Other class winners on the event were: Neil Monaghan – class 1 (Ford Fiesta), Brian Black- class 3 (Toyota Starlet), Chris Simms- class 5 (MK2 Escort), Dermot O’Hagan- class 8 (Toyota Mitsubishi Evo), Jim Feenan-class 10 (Skoda S2000), Drew Wylie- class 12 (MK2 Escort- Historic). Round five of the McGrady series is back on tarmac on the 30th July for the Cookstown Motor Club’s Tyrone Stages Rally.
2016 McGrady Insurance MSA ANICC Northern Ireland Rally Championship 2016-Round Four results
1 Garry Jennings/Rory Kennedy (Subaru Impreza WRC) 57:22.3
2 Derek McGarrity/James O’Reilly (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2m 44.1s
3 Damian Toner/Patrick McCrudden (Ford Escort MKII) +3m 08.1s
4 David Armstrong/Paul Mullholland (Ford Escort MkII) + 3m 29.7s
5 Camillus Bradley/Crawford Henderson (Ford Escort MkII) +3m30.6s
6 Trevor Wilson/Glenn Wilson (Ford Escort MKII) +4m 24.9s
7 Clive Kilpatrick/Conor McGinnity (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) +4m 44.6s
8 Alan Nesbitt/Rodney Hughes (Ford Escort MkII) + 5m 14.2s
9 Alan Smyth/Mac Kierans (Suzuki Swift S1600) + 5m 18.2s
10 John Devlin/John McCarthy (Chrysler Sunbeam) + 5m 44.1s
2016 McGrady Insurance MSA ANICC Northern Ireland Rally Championship 2016—Remaining Rounds
5 Tyrone Stages Rally Tarmac Cookstown MC 30th July
6 Ulster National Rally Tarmac NIMC 19th-20th August
7 Bushwhacker Rally Gravel Omagh MC 24th September
8 Down Rally Tarmac Rathfriland MC 15th October
*Reserve events- Enniskillen MC- 3th September, Ballynahinch & District MC 12th November
To keep up to date please check out the NIRC Facebook page-http://www.facebook.com/nirallying and check out www.anicc.org.uk for the series regulations and latest points. Rally results available on www.rallyscore.net
Images thanks to Ruadhri Nash