Former champ McCloskey tops McKelvey Bushwhacker entry!

Kilrea’s Connor McCloskey, the youngest ever winner of the Hankook MSA Northern Ireland Rally Championship, is returning to action after an 18-month layoff at this Saturday’s McKelvey Bushwhacker Rally!

Navigated by Francis Regan, McCloskey will pilot a hired Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9, and starts the event as the number one seed.

McCloskey secured victory in the 2008 series after a year long battle with Sean Devine. It was a tussle that went down to the wire, with McCloskey sealing the spoils at the final round.

Having been out of action for some time, McCloskey is not a contender in this year’s series but will add some spice to the entry at this weekend’s event.

Last year’s winner, Kenny McKinstry (pictured), will not be out in action this weekend. So McCloskey’s opposition will come in the form of Strabane’s John and James Cairns.  They will be hot on the number one seed’s heels in their Impreza, while Dogleap Rally winners, Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan, start the event at number three.

Ian Cochrane and Nigel Campbell start at number four in their Evo 9 while Hankook championship leaders, Stuart Biggerstaff and Anthony Nestor, are at number five.

Biggerstaff secured his first maximum points haul of the season at the Lakeland Stages Rally, bolstering his chances of securing the title in his maiden rally season.

Mark Donnelly and Sean Ferris are his nearest rivals in championship terms, and they start the Bushwhacker event at number eight, behind Martin Cairns and James Gillen.

The two-wheel-drive category has also received a mouth-watering entry, with a number of leading lights ready for battle.

Vivian Hamill, Adrian Hetherington, Frank Kelly, Ryan Barrett and Drew Stewart are just some of the contenders for the two-wheel-drive crown.

More than 80 entries have been received for the event, which is based at Omagh’s Silverbirch Hotel. Service will be located at Aikens Caravan Centre, Castlederg.

The rally will start shortly after 9.30am, and competitors will tackle 10 stages before returning to the finish at approximately 6.00pm.

Top 10 seeds

1 Connor McCloskey/Francis Regan (Evo 9)
2 John Cairns/James Cairns (Impreza)
3 Donagh Kelly/Kevin Flanagan (Evo 9)
4 Ian Cochrane/Nigel Campbell (Evo 9)
5 Stuart Biggerstaff/Anthony Nestor (Impreza WRC)
6 Martin Cairns/Andrew Purcell (Impreza WRC)
7 James Gillen/TBA (Impreza)
8 Mark Donnelly/Sean Ferris (Evo 9)
9 John Bustard/Robert McKelvey (Evo 9)
10 Vivian Hamill/Paul Hamill (Escort Mark 2)

Go Motorsport

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