McKinstry Wins Down!

October 20, 2013 by  
Filed under R 9: Down Rally, Rally News

Kenny McKinstry and Kenny Hull emerged victorious from Saturday’s Castlewellan based Down Rally but it was Derek McGarrity and James McKee who had the largest smiles as they were confirmed as the 2013 Carryduff Forklift MSA N.I. Stage Rally Champions!

In fact, McGarrity was left celebrating before the event kicked off as his main championship rival, Derek McGeehan, was too late to place an entry. McGeehan had always been an outside bet to snatch the title at the last gasp but with his name absent from the entry list, there were no doubts over who would secure the 2013 accolade.

Despite effectively being crowned champion before the rally got underway, McGarrity still decided to contest the event. But driving a Group N powered Subaru hired from Robbie McGurk, the Glengormley pilot was never going to be able to match the pace of McKinstry’s S14 Impreza WRC.

In fact, McKinstry went on to secure a start to finish victory, although he did share the joint lead of the rally with nine other crews after stage one. Desi Henry, the number two seed, retired on the opening stage with broken steering. With his Evo blocking the road, nine of the following crews were unable to complete the test. They were all awarded McKinstry’s stage time, resulting in 10 crew being tied for the lead.

Everyone had a clean run through stage two and it was here that McKinstry started to build an advantage. He emerged from the test eight seconds clear of second placed Derek McGarrity, while Paul Killen and Barry Savage held third from Shane McGirr and Jackie Elliott.

McKinstry continued to set the pace on stage three while both McGarrity and Killen lost precious seconds, the latter with a broken gearbox. That allowed McGirr up to second overall in his flying Starlet, while Jonny Leonard and Niall Burns slotted in to third.

Crews tackled another two stages after service, and on stage four McKinstry was fastest again. However, the men on the move were Gareth Sayers and Gareth Gilchrist. Driving their Evo, they powered into second position, three seconds ahead of McGirr with Leonard a further three-tenths adrift.

With just a handful of seconds separating three crews in the battle for second, the heat was on! While Sayers went on to set the fastest overall time on stage five, McGirr’s rally came unstuck when his Starlet became beached on a bank. He was later able to drive out of the stage but unfortunately for the crew, their rally was over.

That left Sayers holding second overall, and having increased the gap between himself and third placed Jonny Leonard to more than 16 seconds, he looked certain to secure the runner-up spot.

A final blast through Tollymore Forest where Sayers claimed another fastest time ensured that he claimed second overall but it was Kenny McKinstry and Kenny Hull who emerged as the victors. They had done more than enough to secure the win, boasting a winning margin of 39.7 seconds at the finish ramp.

Sayers arrived home in second position, while third overall for Jonny Leonard and Niall Burns saw them secure third overall in the Carryduff Forklift championship standings.

Derek McGarrity and James McKee brought their hired Group N Impreza home in fourth, winning the Group N category in the process after they nipped ahead of Kieron Graffin on the final stage. Niall Henry and Damien Duffin had entered the final test heading Group N by more than four seconds but a puncture resulted in the crew landing in a ditch, putting them out of the rally.

So it was McGarrity who finished on top, leaping from third in class to first at the last gasp. He finished just 2.7 seconds ahead of Kieron Graffin and Paddy Robinson, but Graffin had done enough to secure the 2013 Group N title.

After his earlier gearbox troubles, Paul Killen and Barry Savage were overjoyed to secure sixth overall and first in the two-wheel-drive category. Thanks to the work of their service crew, who changed the Mark 2 Escort’s gearbox after their stage three troubles, they were able to rejoin the stages and retake the category lead.

Raymond Doyle and Marc Nugent were next in line with their sideways Escort, leaving Kevin Barrett and Sean Mullally to complete the top eight in their ex-Richard Burns Impreza WRC P2000.

With the 2013 Carryduff Forklift MSA N.I. Rally Championship brought to a close, all competitors will be looking forward to a break during the winter months. There will be plenty of celebrations at the championship prizegiving in January, then the 2014 season will kick off in earnest in February.

Go Motorsport

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