Top Contenders Ready for Bushwhacker Battle!

The Carryduff Forklift MSA N.I. Rally Championship returns to action this weekend with the Omagh based McKelvey Bushwhacker Rally hosting the penultimate round of this year’s championship.

Almost 100 entries have been received for the popular forestry event with all of the main championship contenders ready to commence battle over 10 stages.

Championship leader Derek McGarrity has entered in an S10 specification Impreza WRC and having emerged victorious at the Bushwhacker in 2012 (pictured above), he is hot favourite to secure another win this year.

If he is successful, that would put him one step closer to another N.I. Championship title. He leads the series by two points from Derek McGeehan but if McGeehan fails to score this weekend, second or higher for McGarrity would put the title beyond reach of his rival.

However, McGeehan has no plans of failing to finish in his Mini WRC. He will be brimming with confidence having won the Ulster National Rally, although the loose gravel roads will provide an entirely different challenge. He finished seventh overall in 2012 but really needs to finish higher this year to keep his title hopes alive.

Jonny Leonard holds third in the title race and still has a mathematical chance of securing the Carryduff Forklift crown. He trails leader McGarrity by 16 points but with 24 points still up for grabs, the 22-year-old Evo 6 pilot is still in with a shout. Now that the series is moving on to gravel, it will be interesting to see how he fares against the opposition.

Other notable entries include the Triton Showers Impreza WRC belonging to Kevin Barrett. Both James Gillen and Martin Cairns are also entered in Impreza World Rally Cars, while Michael O’Brien will tackle the stages in his Focus WRC and Liam Regan is set to bring his interesting four-wheel-drive Peugeot 206 to the event. Desi Henry will also be one to watch having switched to a Group A Evo.

The Group N category is well supported by a host of Mitsubishi Evos and Subaru Imprezas, including Donegal International Rally winner Sam Moffett and his brother Josh, both in Evo 9 rally cars. Kieron Graffin is the current category leader in the N.I. series and he confirmed earlier this week that he will drive an Evo 9 from his KG Motorsport stable.

There is an equally strong entry amongst the two-wheel-drive crews. Frank Kelly was last year’s 2WD winner and he will bid to defend his title. However, Vivian Hamill and Adrian Hetherington, who finished second and third respectively in 2012, will both have ‘Baby Blue’ firmly in their sights.

Competitors will leave Omagh’s Silverbirch Hotel shortly after 9am on Saturday morning. After tackling 10 stages, they will return to the hotel where the event winners will be crowned shortly after 5pm.

Top 10 Entries

1 Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Impreza WRC S10)
2 Michael O’Brien/Greg Shinnors (Focus WRC)
3 Owen Murphy/James O’Brien (Evo 9)
4 Derek McGeehan/Daragh Mullen (Mini WRC)
5 James Gillen/Jason Harron (Impreza WRC)
6 Martin Cairns/Kevin Flanagan (Impreza WRC)
7 Sam Moffett/James O’Reilly (Evo 9)
8 Josh Moffett/Jason McKenna (Evo 9)
9 Enda McNulty/Paul Sheridan (Impreza)
10 Frank Kelly/Sean Ferris (Escort Mk2)

Click HERE to download entry list

Go Motorsport

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