McGarrity wins 2009 Modern Tyre Service Mourne Rally

Derek McGarrity won the 2009 Modern Tyre Service Mourne Rally.picture:William Neill/NEILLPICS.CO.UK

Derek McGarrity and James McKee have extended their championship advantage with victory at Saturday’s Modern Tyre Service Mourne Rally!

The event, which marked round five of the Hankook MSA N.I. Rally Championship, saw McGarrity claim an emphatic win in his Subaru Impreza WRC from Sunoco Fuels Group N winners, Neil McCance and Jonny Hart, while Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan sealed third.

It was by no means a McGarrity whitewash though, as the Glengormley driver trailed Kenny McKinstry and Noel Orr for much of the day. Banbridge’s McKinstry, also in an Impreza WRC, was fastest from the outset, while McGarrity was outside the top 10 after a spin on stage one.

“We were going too hard on cold tyres,” McGarrity explained later. “We spun and then stalled so we lost quite a bit of time.”

McGarrity was back on song for the following stages and quickly moved into second overall, but he couldn’t seem to do anything about the car in front. He was fastest on stage three but McKinstry quickly replied, setting fastest times on the following four stages.

Although McKinstry was merely trying to keep the chasing McGarrity at bay, he managed to increase his lead to 17 seconds after eight stages. He seemed to have everything under control until crankshaft failure during a road section put paid to any dreams of Mourne Rally victory.

McKinstry was not the only man in trouble. George Robinson, who had been as high as third overall, also retired from the event after a road accident. And Ray Brammer was lucky to still be in the running after he understeered off the road, launching his Impreza over a bank!

There were no such worries for McGarrity, and aside from his early morning indiscretion, he kept his car on the straight and narrow. With McKinstry out of the rally, McGarrity suddenly found himself leading the Modern Tyre Service event comfortably from Neil McCance and Jonny Hart. He eased off the throttle over the final loop of stages to arrive at the Newry finish victorious!

“Kenny made our life a lot easier,” McGarrity said. “To be honest, I was looking forward to a race with him. He was going very well but when the stages were turned around, neither of us knew them, so I was looking forward to going in there to race him. It’s unfortunate but I’ll take a win anyway that I can!”

In second position, Neil McCance and Jonny Hart also topped the Sunoco Fuels Group N tables. The win places them in joint second position in championship terms, but it wasn’t enough to move ahead of Donagh Kelly, who now leads the category after finishing third overall at the Mourne event.

Enniskillen’s Raymond Johnston had entered the rally as the category leader and was on course for taking third in Group N until an incident on stage 10. Navigated by Rodney Hicks, the crew understeered off the road and out of the rally.

“About two miles into stage 10, near the second car park, there was a fairly tight square right,” Johnston explained. “I turned in but we went straight off the road. There was a big trail of oil on the road so there was no grip at all. We went through a fence and rolled onto our side.”

In the Superdrive 2WD category, Trevor Moore and Ray Fitzpatrick sealed the win as well as a superb fourth overall. Damian Toner and Paddy McCague hounded Moore throughout the day, but a few stages before the finish, Toner decided to settle for second. At least that was until Moore “fell asleep” on the penultimate stage, allowing Toner to move into a one second lead!

Unfortunately, Toner’s time at the top was short-lived as a back axle broke during the final stage through no fault of his own. His retirement ensured Moore claimed the victory as well as another maximum points haul.

“I don’t know why but I just didn’t have any confidence in my notes on stage 12,” Moore said. “I was very disappointed with myself after driving so well all day. We got the win in the end but we’ll never know what way it would have gone if Damian had stayed in the rally.”

Toner’s retirement allowed Brian Armstrong and Duncan MacFarlane to take second among the 2WD crews, as well as fifth overall, while Drew Stewart and Liam Regan claimed third in the category and completed the top six overall. Rodney White and Sorcha Kelly took fourth in the Superdrive category with their Sunbeam, while Camillus Bradley and Danny O’Neill sealed sixth after alternator troubles.

The Hankook MSA N.I. Stage Rally Championship now takes a two month summer break before action resumes at Limavady’s KPL Utility Services Dogleap Stages Rally. The event marks the series’ return to the forests, and the loose-surface rally will take place on Saturday 1 August.

Go Motorsport

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