International Flavour for Circuit

The Carryduff Forklift MSA Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship bursts back into action this weekend with the Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally!

This year’s event has an international flavour as the International category is also a counting round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge. Competitors from around the world have already arrived in the country in preparation for what will be a spectacular two-day event.

The Carryduff Forklift Championship competitors will contest the National section of the rally, which has attracted almost 80 crews. Current Championship leaders, Derek McGarrity and James McKee, head the entry in their MINI WRC. McGarrity already has five Circuit of Ireland victories to his name, and is hot favourite for adding a National win to his tally this year.

Hot on his heels will be former Northern Ireland Champion, Eugene Donnelly. Navigated by Paddy Toner, Donnelly has reverted to a Toyota Corolla WRC for the event. He started ahead of the Impreza WRC belonging to Darren Gass and Enda Sherry, although it remains to be seen if Donnelly or Gass will register to score Carryduff Forklift N.I. Championship points.

Banbridge’s Kenny McKinstry is registered to score points, and he starts the National Rally behind Darren Gass. McKinstry and navigator Noel Orr enjoyed a tight tussle with McGarrity for last year’s spoils, only for a spin during the final day.

County Cork driver Daragh O’Riordan, with navigator Tony McDaid, will also bid for Circuit of Ireland National glory in his Impreza WRC. And they are followed by another two WRC crews, with England’s Steve Perez at number seven in his Ford Focus WRC ahead of former N.I. champions, Stuart Biggerstaff and Anthony Nestor.

In the two-wheel-drive category, Frank Kelly and Stephen Quinn are the top seeds in their Escort. The Moy driver will be battling with the likes of Adrian Hetherington, Geoffrey Dolan, Drew Stewart, John Waring and Fintan McGrady.

There will be equally hot battles within the Production category. Trevor Ferguson and David McElroy are the current series leaders. They have entered in their Impreza, as has Paddy McVeigh and Stephen O’Hanlon.

Gerard McFall and Connor O’Loan are hoping to spoil the Impreza party with their Evo, while Jason Curran, who has Ian Regan on the notes, will be tackling the event in his Evo 8.

The action gets underway on Good Friday with a spectacular Titanic Super Special Stage in Belfast. Then the crews will more towards the Banbridge and Dungannon areas for a selection of stages, with the event winner crowned on Saturday evening. Stage maps can be found in the official event programme. More details can be found online at www.circuitofireland.net.

Map of Titanic Stage

 

The stage location

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