Hankook Down Rally Countdown!

The countdown is over…it’s finally here! This year’s Hankook Down Rally, round six of the Carryduff Forklift MSA Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship, kicks off from the Lower Square, Castlewellan, tomorrow (Saturday) morning shortly before 9am!

This year’s closed road event features famous stages such as Hamilton’s Folly, and 55 crews are set to do battle on the stages.

Derek McGarrity, the current Carryduff Forklift N.I. Championship leader, will lead the field away in his S12 specification Subaru Impreza WRC. His World Rally Car is one of seven that have entered the event, and partnered by James McKee, they have already proven to be a winning combination. Can they add another victory to their tally this weekend?

Derek McGeehan and Damien Connolly will certainly be trying hard to stop them in their tracks. Driving their Mini WRC, McGeehan enters the Down Rally on the back of finishing third at last weekend’s Lough Neagh Stages. That was an event that he had been leading until a problem on the penultimate stage. He is looking to put those troubles behind him, and although he admits he has entered the event in an attempt to “get used to pace notes”, he’ll be aiming for some top times.

Also vying for victory will be former winners Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan. They secured the win on last year’s event with a Group N Evo 9 when the rally was based in the forests but it’s all change for 2012. They have an Impreza WRC at their disposal for this year’s all tarmac event.

Kenny McKinstry narrowly lost out on victory in 2011. He led the rally going into the final stage but slipped briefly off the road. As a result, he failed in his bid to repeat his 2010 victory but with Sean Mullally on the notes this year, the crew are looking to put that behind them.

Drew Stewart currently holds second overall in the Carryduff Forklift N.I. Championship standings and is seeded at number five in his Mark 2 Escort with David White. Followed by the Evo belonging to George Robinson and Tommy Speers, the two crews are the meat in a World Rally Car sandwich,  with John and Lesley McGaffin at seven in their World Rally Car.

Trevor Ferguson and David McElroy break the WRC stranglehold with their Group N Impreza at number eight, but the top 10 seeds are completed by more WRC crews. Emma McKinstry and Kenny Hull are ready for battle in their S8 specification car, while Ray Brammer and Damien Fleming complete the top 10, also in an S8.

The remainder of the entry list is completed by a host of potent two-wheel-drive and Group N machinery. Fintan McGrady is also among the leading 2WD entrants with his McGrady Insurance backed Escort. Starting at number 11, he heads no less than four other Escort crews, with John Waring, Declan McNaughton, David Armstrong and Ian Miller behind him.

Outline Plan

Competing crews will leave Lower Square, Castlewellan, shortly before 9am on Saturday 7 July. Crews will complete two stages before heading to service at St. Malachy’s High School. Then they’ll set off to repeat those tests, before heading to another two stages in the afternoon. The winners will then be crowned at Lower Square, Castlewellan, around 6pm. Event programmes complete with stage maps can be found at selected shops around Castlewellan.

Go Motorsport

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