Bradley Wins Sperrins!

(Image: RallyPics.org) Camillus Bradley became only the second two-wheel drive pilot in more than 10 years to win a round of the Carryduff Forklift MSA Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship on Saturday!

While John Waring secured 2010 Circuit of Ireland National Rally success in his Escort, it was Bradley and navigator Charlie Beattie who claimed the win at last weekend’s Tour of the Sperrins Rally in their Mark 2 Escort, round four of the 2012 series.

More than 30 crews entered the Davagh based event with 2010 winner Derek McGarrity leading the field away in his MINI John Cooper Works WRC. With James McKee calling the pace notes, McGarrity set the pace on the opening stage but only by six-tenths of a second from Bradley, who was closely followed by Drew Stewart’s Escort.

McGarrity, who is in the hunt for his third N.I. Championship title, increased his lead to more than six seconds after stage two when Bradley survived two big moments. His Escort got out of sync after a jump on two occasions, with Bradley blaming too much brake bias to the rear of his car.

“We had two seriously big moments,” Bradley explained. “I managed to gather it up after the first one, but then after another mile and a half, the same thing happened again and we had another big moment. I nearly had a heart attack the second time!”

Bradley fought back on the third test when he swiped six-tenths of a second out of the rally leader, and there was more to come.

The Mark 2 pilot, who rates Davagh as one of his favourite hunting grounds, set a scintillating pace through the fourth test. He swiped almost seven seconds out of McGarrity, moving him into the rally lead.

Nine-tenths of a second separated new rally leader Bradley and second placed McGarrity, but the MINI pilot’s challenge was set to fade further. A puncture on the fifth stage saw him lose around 40 seconds, dropping him to third overall.

Suddenly, Camillus Bradley and Charlie Beattie had 18 seconds in hand over Drew Stewart and David White going into the final stage. And a clean run on the final test ensured Bradley and Beattie secured Tour of the Sperrins Rally victory!

Drew Stewart and David White claimed second overall in their Escort, while third overall for McGarrity and McKee was enough for them to maintain their Carryduff Forklift N.I. Championship advantage.

Outside the top three, Kieron Graffin and Neil Doherty were the best of the rest in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8. They had trailed Declan McNaughton and John Rowan after stage one, but McNaughton incurred a stage maximum on stage two. That allowed Graffin into fourth overall, and he stayed there until the finish.

Trevor Ferguson and David McElroy had looked set to secure fifth overall and first in Group N, but a puncture on the fourth stage saw them plummet down the order. Instead, Alistair Cochrane and Gary McElhinney secured fifth in their Escort, with Raymond Mason and Paul Hone completing the top six and securing the Group N spoils.

Carryduff Forklift N.I. Championship crews now enjoy a one month break before returning to action at Newry and District Motor Club’s Mourne Rally. Regulations and event information will be available soon from www.nirally.com.

Meanwhile, in the McGrady Insurance Junior 1000 Rally Challenge, the 14 to 16-year-old drivers were back in action at the McAleer’s Spar Stages Rally, based near Enniskillen at St. Angelo on Bank Holiday Monday. On this occasion, Adam Bustard and Nigel Mills secured their maiden win in the series, heading home championship leaders Ben Crealey and Liam Regan by just 1.4 seconds. Rhys Bunting and Andrew Bushe claimed third.

Tour of the Sperrins – Top 10 Results

1 Camillus Bradley/Charlie Beatty Ford Escort MkII 32m48.6s
2 Drew Stewart/David White Ford Escort MkII 33m14.7s
3 Derek McGarrity/James McKee Mini WRC 33m36.0s
4 Kieron Graffin/Neil Doherty Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII 33m51.4s
5 Alistair Cochrane/Gary McElhinney Ford Escort MkII 35m04.5s
6 Raymond Mason/Paul Hone Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 35m14.8s
7 James Kennedy/Heather Kennedy Ford Escort MkII 35m21.2s
8 Gary Price/Ronnie Craig Ford Escort 35m28.6s
9 Gerard McFall/Connor O’Loan Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 35m29.7s
10 Kyle Orr/Damian Garvey Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII 35m33.4s

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