Northern Ireland Rally Champion Derek McGarrity won the New Year Stages at Kirkistown late last month. This was the first rally of the year in NI and it also marked the first appearance of the current champion in an R5 Fiesta.
Although not a round of the 2017 Championship, the Ulster Automobile Club event attracted an entry of almost 60 competitors. Six special stages around the Co.Down Race Circuit were laid out and proved to be challenging as the crews had to negotiate tyre markers, water-filled barrels, various chicanes and hairpins.
McGarrity and co-driver Jonny Magee led from start to finish although the opposition consisted of a couple of WRC Fiesta’s, two WRC Subaru’s and an R5 Citroen. The tight and twisty nature of the tests seemed to suit the less powerfull Ford.
For my part I was marshalling with two others on the stages. There had been heavy overnight rain but thankfully the weather was kind once the rally started and although cold we even had some sunshine. I known lots of BMMC/BRMC marshals signed-on and covered various duties on the day.
Second place went to Connor McCloskey (and John Rowan) who was setting up his new Fiesta WRC in readiness for the Cambrian Rally. Kenny McKinstry/Claire Gamble was out in one of the last Subaru S14 WRC’s to have been built by Prodrive. The Banbridge legend finished third in the 2 litre car having had launch control problems all day. Fourth was Mark Massey from Ballygowan who had hired a McKinstry S8 Subaru for the day. Mark had Niall Burns co-driving.
An interesting crew finished fifth. Robert Woodside and Allan Harryman first competed together in this same event 20 years ago in a little Nissan Micra, on a whim!. Fast forward to 2017 and also on a whim they decided to enter again, this time in a hired DGM Citroen DS3 R5. Well they managed to set some great times in the little French lassie and were well pleased with their day’s work!
Top 2-wheel-drive crew were Kyle White and Sean Topping in their new Peugeot 208 R2. They were seventh behind Martin and John Cairns in a Fiesta WRC.
Stanley Orr in his Mk.1 Escort, Richard Hall in his new-to-him Porsche 911 and Dessie McCartney in the Diarrian were among my favourites to watch and listen to. Richard was 20th, Stanley (who was NI Motorsport Personality of the Year 1987) 21st and Dessie 25th.
Altogether 50 main field and 4 juniors finished the six stages and there were no incidents of note to report.
I asked Derek McGarrity if he would continue with the R5 car for the rest of the year. His answer was in the negative! He prefers the power of the WRC’s. If that’s the case and Derek enters the series, let’s hope we see some good opposition for the multiple champion to compete with when the NI Championship gets underway on the 11th of this month back at Kirkistown!
Back to KIRKISTOWN for the opening round of the 2017 NI Rally Championship. Organised by North Armagh MC the event follows the same format as the New Year Stages. Sign-on by 8am.
To be held at KIRKISTOWN again. Sign-on by 09.30. As I always say, we NEED to attend this event.
You will learn something new and keep up with any FeFnew developments on the motorsport front. Jim Whitaker will preside as Chief MSA Trainer.
6th January 2017
Following a meeting of Newtown & District Automobile Club Ltd's committee, it was decided that, due to the current financial uncertainties of running a forest stage event, the difficult decision to cancel the Grooms Garage Mid-Wales Stages 2017 had to be made.
The club would like to thank all the competitors, officials and marshals who have helped to make the event a success over the previous years and wish all the best to the rallying community for 2017.
Please note the calendar on this site has now been updated to show the information for 2017 if you wish to review 2016 you can do this by going to the Archive selection on the Calendar Menu or Clicking Here.
Circuit of Ireland Rally Event Director, Bobby Willis, has announced that the Rally will not be taking place in 2017. The decision has been made as a result of funding uncertainty.
Bobby Willis explains, “I have had the privilege of managing the Circuit of Ireland Rally since 2009. In that time the event has grown significantly and now hosts the prestigious European, British, Irish and Northern Ireland Championships. Last year we had in excess of 40 million television viewers worldwide, with similar numbers expected this year. Another hundred thousand viewers, in 130 countries followed the event via live streaming in what we believe to be a first for this scale of rally. Year on year the event has brought increasing social and economic dividends for Northern Ireland and, in particular, the tourism and hospitality sector. But the growing success and size of the event necessitates precise long term project planning, additional resources and inevitably more financial investment.”
“To date we have had fantastic support from Councils across Northern Ireland, Tourism NI and Tourism Ireland, private sponsorship and the NI Executive. I believe we have delivered an excellent return on investment for all our partners, with the substantial growth achieved in the last seven years. We have been working hard with all our funders to plan ahead for 2017 but regrettably at this point in time the financial resources required to deliver the event are still not in place. To run the Rally next year, in the current format, without the right resources and necessary planning period would be to do the Rally a gross disservice. I believe we cannot risk proceeding with the 2017 event at this point without financial certainty.”
“The decision not to run the Rally next year has been the most difficult one I have ever had to make and will be extremely disappointing for a wide range of people including the hundreds of volunteers who have contributed so much. The Circuit of Ireland Rally has reached a level of success unimaginable only a few years ago, attracting an enviable international entry list and with opportunities for even more growth within our grasp. For those reasons it is vital that the ‘Circuit of Ireland’ brand is protected for future generations. Whilst other options for a small, local rally may be considered for next year, my plan is to take the time to work closely with our partners to secure the necessary resources and plan for the Circuit of Ireland Rally to return in 2018 with an even better event.
Circuit of Ireland Rally
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