McGARRITY WINS AT KIRKISTOWN
Current NI champion, Derek McGarrity appeared at the 500 MRCI’s New Year Stages Rally last month in a new-to-him 1.6 Ford Fiesta WRC and duly took the win. Kieran Graffin was his co-driver for the day. Apparently the car was used in Regional Rally Car specification by Nasser Al-Attiyah to win the 2015 World Championship “second division” WRC2.
Initially it was Kenny McKinstry, fresh from victory two weeks earlier on the Icebreaker event in the Co.Antrim forests and in his usual Subaru Impreza S14 WRC who set the pace, but on the fourth stage of six the 2 litre car succumbed to mechanical problems. That left Desi Henry and Liam Moynihan to claim the runner-up position with their brand new Skoda Fabia R5. In what for me was the drive of the day, young Kyle White co-driven by Sean Topping finished an incredible third in a little Citroen C2R2. Steven Wright was out for the first time in his up-graded Ford Fiesta R5 Evo. He set quick times on the first two stages but retired after test three with mechanical issues.
The non-championship New Year Stages is normally used as a shakedown for Galway (6-7 Feb) and the first NI Championship round to be held over identical stages here at Kirkistown on 13th Feb. but there were only 35 starters plus four competitors in the junior event which used the same six tarmac tests. Best junior pairing were Josh and Thomas McEriean in their 1.0 Peugeot 107.
In my first outing of the year I had a very enjoyable day marshalling with three others. Thanks boys and girl for your company. We were on post from 9am until 4pm. Other club members were involved with timekeeping and rescue duties. The weather was mild and dry until the last hour when the rains came.
The latest news surrounding this year’s Circuit of Ireland Rally is that the two-day event which takes place on Friday 8th/Saturday 9th April will be based at the Kings Hall complex at Balmoral in Belfast. A ceremonial start will be held in Lisburn on the evening of Thursday 7th April. Although not yet officially announced, it would appear that the majority of the day one stages will be in county Antrim while the second day should feature tests in Down and Armagh. The service park will be at the Kings Hall.
Expect a capacity entry. Apart from being the second round of the European championship, the Circuit will also be a round of the British, Irish Tarmac and Northern Ireland championships. The top category in all these (except NI) will be for R5 and S2000 cars. With all this going on the Circuit of Ireland promises to be one of the best rallies anywhere in the World this year!
Current European Champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz (who finished second behind Craig Breen last year) should be among the front runners while former M-Sport WRC driver Elfyn Evans returns to the British Championship this year. Evans was the runaway winner of WRC2 in Monte Carlo last month. He will drive a Fiesta R5 on the Circuit as part of the DMACK team with young Max Vatanen.
Craig Breen will not be back to defend his 2015 Circuit win. Instead he will be a part of the Citroen supported Abu Dhabi Total WRC team this year. The Waterford driver and Englishman Scott Martin’s first event as Kris Meeke’s team mate is the Swedish Rally on 11-14 of this month. It is unclear which of the other 2016 WRC rounds Craig and Kris will compete on. The full manufacture Citroen team will return for a full assault on the 2017 series. Breen will have to prove himself if he is to join Meeke next year in a brand new car. The race for the second seat will be between Breen and Stephane Lefebvre who finished fifth in Monte Carlo.
Incidentally Northern Ireland’s own Steven Whitford was driving the “ice note” car for Kris Meeke on the Monte Carlo Rally. Meeke and Paul Nagle led three times on day one and were the only crew to challenge VW’s Sebastien Ogier on the tough event. The Citroen crew were in a strong second place on day two and just 29.1 seconds behind the World Champion when a freak accident on SS13 ripped off the DS3’s sump guard and as a result damaged the gearbox terminally. Ogier went on to win by 1min54.5seconds from team mate Andreas Mikkelsen. It was a heartbreaking end to Meeke’s brave drive.
The Ulster Rally, due to run on Friday 19th/Saturday 20th August, is moving from Enniskillen to Londonderry. It would appear that the rally, a round of the British, Irish Tarmac and Northern Ireland championships, will be based at Ebrington Square. There may also be a spectator stage near that location in the city centre. The closed road tests will obviously be in Co.Derry and the surrounding catchment area.
30 YEARS AGO..........1986
Fred Crawford led a Ford Escort 1-2-3-4 at the Larne MC’s January round of the Belfast Car Ferries Rallycross Championship at Boyd’s Autodrome, Mallusk. We were marshalling as we normally would do. Conditions were very wet. Second was Nigel Allen while Fred Patterson finished third. Yet another Escort driven by Eamon Matheson was fourth. There would be one more round to come.
Former member Patrick Young wrote an article for Carsport magazine about the Northern Ireland section of the BMRMC/BRMC. The purpose was to try to recruit new members ahead of the 6th annual Training Day due to be held at Kirkistown on March 1st.
20 YEARS AGO........1996
Gary White was our Driver of the Year 1995. Colin Rossborough presented the David Gillespie Memorial Trophy at the ANICC awards night. 20 years on and Gary’s 19-year-old son Kyle finished third in the 2016 New Year Stages!
10 YEARS AGO........ 2006
Kevin Lynch was presented with the BMMC (NI) Driver of the Year 2005 award. We were out in force providing timekeepers and rescue personnel for the New Year Stages at Kirkistown. Denis and Stuart Biggerstaff won in their 1997 Subaru WRC. The weather was unseasonably good. Club member Billy Stevenson started at number 65 but finished fourth in class and 46th overall in his Ford Popular 1.6.
A second Rally Ireland trial event was due to happen in March. The all-tarmac rally would be observed for possible inclusion in the 2007 WRC. We were providing timekeepers, rescue and stage marshals.
SAT. 6TH FEB. DEREK WALKER CLASSIC TRIAL
Run by the MG Car Club this popular event will start and finish at Delamont Country Park, Killyleagh, Co.Down. We have been asked to help with the running of some of the tests. Contact COC Gordon Buckley, Fel McIlory or Carol Willis for more details or just Sign-on from 8am-9am.
SAT.13TH FEB. PACENOTES RALLY MAGAZINE STAGES
North Armagh Motor Club are running this Round 1 of the McGrady Insurance MSA ANICC Northern Ireland Rally Championship. Based at Kirkistown Race Circuit as usual, BMMC/BRMC as a club will be involved with marshalling. Sign-on 8am.
SAT. 27TH FEB. FIVEMILETOWN SPRING RALLY
Omagh MC are the organisers of this popular non-championship forest rally. We have been asked to provide timekeepers, rescue, marshals and radio crews. The rally starts at 10am and will use the forests to the south of Fivemiletown in Co.Tyrone. A few changes may be made to “spice up the event” this year.
SAT. 12TH MARCH BMMC/BRMC N.I. TRAINING DAY
The 2016 Training Day for the BMMC/BRMC Northern Ireland Region will take place at Kirkistown Race Circuit, Co.Down on Saturday 12th March. Attendance is essential if you wish to join up, or as an existing member, keep up-to-date with the very latest developments regarding marshalling in the British Isles. Sign On 9am.