Glengormley’s Derek McGarrity seals another last gasp TNR Alu Systems Tour of the Sperrins Rally victory!
(Image: Graham Chambers) Derek McGarrity overcame a plethora of suspension setup issues in his Subaru Impreza WRC S12c to claim a last gasp victory at the TNR Alu Systems Tour of the Sperrins Rally, round four of the Hankook MSA Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship!
Navigated by James McKee, the Glengormley driver entered the final stage 13 seconds adrift of the rally leaders but a massive charge through the closing miles saw the crew nip in front by 2.9 seconds.
Sean Devine and Robert McDaid had led from the start in their Impreza WRC. While rival McGarrity struggled in his errant handling Subaru, Devine took the opportunity to take control of the rally from the front.
Fastest on the opening two stages, Devine had a cushion of 19 seconds over second placed Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan, while Derek McGeehan and Eugene Donnelly were third.
Then Hankook Championship leader, Derek McGarrity, started his comeback charge. Fastest time over stage three was enough to propel him from fourth to second overall, and with his car fitted with the correct springs in service, there was nothing stopping the Circuit of Ireland Rally winner.
McGarrity set the pace over the following stages but he still trailed Sean Devine by 13 seconds going into the final stage. He had a mammoth task at hand but in a do or die effort, he was quickest by 16 seconds, and snatched a last gasp victory by a slender 2.9 seconds.
Ironically, 12 months earlier, McGarrity sealed a last gasp win at the same event. This year, he did it again, adding a second Sperrins trophy to his cabinet and bolstering his position at the top of the Hankook MSA Northern Ireland Rally Championship tables.
Gracious in defeat, Sean Devine and Robert McDaid were forced to settle for second position, while Derek McGeehan and Eugene Donnelly were third. Donagh Kelly, who held second overall after the opening stages, retired from the event when he landed his Ford Focus WRC in a field.
In the two-wheel-drive category, Camillus Bradley and Danny O’Neill claimed victory, as well as fourth overall, in their Mark 2 Escort. Bradley led the category from start to finish, with Seamus O’Connell and Andrew Grennan finishing fifth overall with their Escort.
The Sunoco Fuels Group N category saw Mark Donnelly and Stephen O’Hanlon take the spoils as well as sixth overall. Enda McNulty had been one of the top tips for victory but he hit a wall on stage one.
Cyril Doherty and Graham Henderson nabbed the Group N advantage shortly afterwards, but then Raymond Johnston and Rodney Hicks moved in front. The new leaders dropped time on stage five, so it was all to play for between Cyril Doherty and Mark Donnelly.
Three tenths of a second separated the two leading crews going into the final test but it was Donnelly who emerged victorious. He also finished sixth overall, leaving Doherty to settle for second in class ahead of Raymond Johnston and Rodney Hicks.
For Donnelly, the result puts him at the top of not only the class two championship standings, but he also heads the Sunoco Group N and Hankook Group N prize drive tables, and is a leading contender for the Superdrive Junior category.
In the Montgomery Motorsport Historic category, Andy Johnston and Chris McSherry claimed the award while Barry Greer and Suzanne Wright emerged as the leading Fiesta crew from Jonny and Jackie Leonard. Finally, the Autofashion.ie Group A cup was won by Gerard McFall.
Hankook MSA Northern Ireland Rally Championship action will resume at the Modern Tyre Service Mourne Rally on Saturday 05 June. Derek McGarrity will be aiming to extend his six point championship advantage over Stuart Biggerstaff, who finished just outside the top 10 at the Sperrins event. More details will be announced in the coming weeks at www.nirally.com.
2010 TNR Alu Systems Tour of the Sperrins Rally
1 Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Impreza WRC) 37m20.5s
2 Sean Devine/Robert McDaid (Impreza WRC) 37m23.4s
3 Derek McGeehan/Eugene Donnelly (Corolla WRC) 38m02.0s
4 Camillus Bradley/Danny O’Neill (Escort Mark 2) 38m33.2s
5 Seamus O’Connell/Andrew Grennan (Escort Mark 2) 39m00.0s
6 Mark Donnelly/Stephen O’Hanlon (Lancer Evo) 39m29.3s
7 Adrian Hetherington/Gary Nolan (Escort Mark 2) 39m29.8s
8 Cyril Doherty/Graham Henderson (Impreza) 39m34.0s
9 Declan McNaughton/Sean Hayde (Escort Mark 2) 39m35.9s
10 George Robinson/Tommy Speers (Impreza WRC) 39m49.5s