McGarrity Grips Hankook Down Rally!

(Image: NeillPics.co.uk) Derek McGarrity and James McKee secured a narrow one second victory at last weekend’s Hankook Down Rally, round six of the Carryduff Forklift MSA Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship, after challenger Donagh Kelly fell foul of a bogey time.

Driving his Subaru Impreza WRC, Glengormley driver McGarrity trailed Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan by more than six seconds going into the final stage of the popular Castlewellan based Rathfriland Motor Club closed road event. But a thrilling final stage dash saw McGarrity set fastest time by more than seven seconds, placing him at the head of the leaderboard at the last gasp!

Second placed Kelly was left contemplating what might have been. He had been tussling for the spoils with McGarrity throughout the eight-stage event. Indeed, it was Kelly who set the pace on the lion’s share of stages, with five fastest times to his credit at the end of the rally.

However, it was stage seven that was set to prove pivotal. Kelly was fastest on the test but in pulling out all the stops, he had managed to beat the bogey time.

Regulations require that competitors do not complete a stage with an average speed of more than 60mph. If they manage to go faster, they are awarded the ‘bogey’ time – the time that it would take to complete the stage at the required maximum average speed.

Event organisers often erect man-made chicanes to help keep speeds down so it is rare that the maximum averages are beaten. However, on this occasion, Donagh Kelly was so fast through the seventh stage that he managed to do exactly that.

So instead of being awarded his actual stage time, Kelly was awarded the ‘bogey’ time, which was five seconds slower. Although he still led the event, at the end of the rally, it made all the difference between winning and losing.

With one stage remaining, Kelly led the rally by 6.4 seconds from Derek McGarrity. It was the largest gap that had separated the two crews throughout the day long event so the odds looked to be in the rally leader’s favour.

However, McGarrity had other ideas. With the bit between his teeth, he powered into the final 13-mile test on a mission. At the finish control, he stopped the clocks 7.4 seconds faster than Kelly, which was enough to scoop the rally victory by one second!

With Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan in second position, Kenny McKinstry and Sean Mullally completed a top three of Impreza WRC crews. They finished more than one minute adrift in third overall, and more than three minutes ahead of the Mini WRC belonging to Derek McGeehan and Damien Connolly.

In the two-wheel-drive category, Vivian Hamill and Paul Sheridan sealed the trophy as well as fifth overall. They had battled with Drew Stewart and David White for the position, and going into the final stage, Hamill held a 1.8 second advantage.

The pressure was on but on this occasion, it was Hamill who was destined for victory. Rival Stewart slipped off the road and out of the rally during the closing miles, leaving Hamill to pick up the two-wheel-drive win from John Waring and John McCarthy, who nipped ahead of Paul Killen and Enda Kennedy on the final test.

In the Group N category, Geoff McMahon and Rob Graham set a stunning pace in their Evo 9 Lancer during the early stages. They were lying as high as fourth overall after five stages but were later forced to retire. Instead, Gerard McFall and Connor O’Loan took the trophy from Trevor Ferguson and David McElroy.

Round seven of the Carryduff Forklift N.I. series has been cancelled so all eyes now turn towards round eight, the Todds Leap Ulster Rally. Set to take place over 17/18 August, competitors will resume battle on the stages in just over one month’s time.

Hankook Down Rally – top 10 results

1 Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Impreza WRC) 58m43.3s
2 Donagh Kelly/Kevin Flanagan (Impreza WRC) 58m44.3s
3 Kenny McKinstry/Sean Mullally (Impreza WRC) 59m51.9s
4 Derek McGeehan/Damien Connolly (Mini WRC) 1h03m22.9s
5 Vivian Hamill/Paul Sheridan (Escort Mk2) 1h03m31.6s
6 Ray Brammer/Damien Fleming (Impreza WRC) 1h04m18.8s
7 John Waring/John McCarthy (Escort Mk2) 1h04m23.8s
8 Paul Killen/Enda Kennedy (Escort Mk2) 1h04m25.1s
9 Emma McKinstry/Kenny Hull (Impreza WRC) 1h04m40.4s
10 David Armstrong/Mo Downey (Escort Mk2) 1h05m05.5s

Go Motorsport

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