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BDMC Bishopscourt Stages - (Sat) 10 Mar 18

Posted: March 19, 2018 8:35 AM - 6164 Hits

McGrady Insurance Stages 2018
Round 1 - 2018 Northern Ireland Rally Championship
Counting Round - 2018 Junior 1000 Rally Challenge

Photo: William Neill

Bennett Brilliant at Bishopscourt!

Posted: March 19, 2018 8:35 AM

Seventeen- year old Peter Bennett from Loughgall, County Armagh, driving a newly acquired Mitsubishi Evo 9 scored a magnificent result, sixth overall on the opening round of the McGrady Insurance Northern Ireland Rally Championship at Bishopscourt. It was an amazing turn of speed for the teenager who finished second class eight car but was awarded first in the category as the winner finished in the top three overall.

Peter was runner up in the Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland in 2016, and also in the UK Junior 1000 series for 14-17 year old driver’s, rallies in which he really developed his driving skills. The 300 horse power Mitsubishi was a big step from the 68 horse power Junior Skoda! It was the first rally in the four-wheel drive machine for Peter, and his co-driver Simon Jones who flew over from Wales to contest the event. It wasn’t an easy day to learn the powerful car with torrential rain leaving large pools of standing water on the County Down circuit and its infield, but the crew got off to a solid start, inside the top twenty on stage one.

However on stage two, the Loughgall teenager produced an astounding third fastest overall time, despite catching a few cars during the test to move up to eighth overall.
“It was difficult but a great day at the same time. I loved the car, and the plan now is to contest the rest of the Northern Ireland Rally Championship, providing we can find the budget. I really believe that the competitiveness and skills learnt in the Junior 1000 cars, has helped me to carry speed and this has all carried across to driving the Mitsubishi, so it’s been a great tool for progression in the sport” said Peter.

At that sort of pace and in the conditions that prevailed the day wasn’t without its moments, and a big aquaplane on stage four caused the crew to run over a tyre and bend the steering. “By the penultimate stage we had a twenty second gap over the next class competitor, so we focused on bringing it home in one piece.” Adding to the elation of a sixth place overall finish on his first rally in the car, was the fact that it was self-prepared by the teenager, who is also attending Loughborough College in England on a motorsport course.

Now the focus is on round two of the Northern Ireland series, the closed road Tour of the Sperrins Rally in May, and the more seasoned competitors will be watching their mirrors now for the rising young star!

McElwee/Henderson Declared the Winners in Bishopscourt! Round 2- 2018 National Construction Skills Academy Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland

Posted: March 19, 2018 8:33 AM

The second round of the 2018 National Construction Skills Academy (NCSA) ANICC Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland took place at Bishopscourt for the Ballynahinch Motor Club’s McGrady Insurance Stages event. Just three Junior 1000 crews lined up for the six- stage event, as reigning champion Sam Adams sadly had to pull out a couple of days before-hand, his recovery from a road accident not quite complete.

There was much excitement however as round one winner Marcus McElwee had upgraded to a Citroen C1 for this event. The 15-year-old set off first into stage one and was first off it too! He beached the Citroen on a lorry tyre after aquaplaning on the back straight, and had be rescued, getting to the stage end to record a maximum time of thirteen minutes. It was Peter Beaton who took the early advantage with a great run on the first stage. The 16-year-old’s long trip from Nairn in Scotland, had been made more stressful when his mum Katriona ended up in hospital the previous day after taking an allergic reaction on the ferry over. With mum back at track side on the day Peter and co-driver Paul Gallagher were fastest on all three tests opening up a massive lead, but disaster was to strike on stage four.

A welcome newcomer to the challenge was Recce Pollock from Londonderry, who is also the youngest driver at just fourteen years of age. Bringing with him much rally- sprint experience he made a promising start with his new Nissan Micra, but half way through stage one it ground to a halt in the wet conditions with an electrical fault. It was after stage two that the busy Ballynahinch Motor Club towed the car in, and he re-joined to have a good run on stage three, before a similar fault affected the car on stage four. Despite these problems Recce loved his first Junior 1000 event, and the Micra is already undergoing some preparation work before the next round. Recce picked up the trophy and prize-money from NCSA for third place.

Stages three and four where shorter versions of stage one and two and stage four was to cause some upset as Peter Beaton ground to a halt when the engine mount bolts sheared, and the drive-shaft pulled out. The 107 was towed in and thanks to the assistance of Kyle White and his team was repaired to re-join the event on stage five. However, a stage maximum of thirteen minutes was applied after stage four, and this put them behind Marcus McElwee.

Marcus was now learning his Citroen C1 and set fastest time on stage five, two seconds faster than Beaton. Recce Pollock was also just seven seconds off the leader on this test, showing that he will be a force to be reckoned with soon. On the final stage Peter Beaton took his fourth fastest time of the day, 1.7 seconds ahead of Marcus McElwee.

It wasn’t the best display for the Junior 1000 runners, with small excursions and break-downs meaning that no crew fully completed the route, but they all got their top three prizes and the prize-money from Brendan Crealey the series sponsor.

It was Marcus McElwee who showed up as the winner by twenty-four seconds on the final results, and the Junior crews where all very thankful to the marshals who braved the extremely wet weather to put on this event, at a venue they all enjoy.

2018 NCSA Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland- Rnd 2 Positions
1st Marcus McElwee / John Henderson Citroën C1 52:30.5
2nd Peter Beaton / Paul Gallagher Peugeot 107 +0:24.0
3rd Reece Pollock / Hugh Watson Nissan Micra +10:50.0

In Car

Posted: March 19, 2018 8:24 AM

Denis Biggerstaff & Stephen Jess (Subaru Impreza WRC S9)

Derek McGarrity & Paddy Robinson win Wet 'n Wild Bishopscourt Thriller!

Posted: March 19, 2018 8:19 AM

It was wet and wild at Bishopscourt Race Circuit on Saturday (10 March) as the opening round of the 2018 McGrady Insurance MSA Northern Ireland Rally Championship got underway in treacherous conditions. However, Derek McGarrity and Paddy Robinson stayed cool, calm and collected to seal a commanding victory aboard their Subaru Impreza WRC...

While others flailed in the difficult conditions, McGarrity didn't put a wheel out of place on any of the event's six stages. He took a commanding lead of nine seconds after stage one and sprinted ahead of the pack to eventually secure his sixth consecutive McGrady Insurance Bishopscourt Stages victory by more than one minute.

"It's great to win the event again," McGarrity said at the finish. "Those were difficult conditions today but we didn't make any major mistakes and kept out of trouble."

Peadar Hurson and Damien Connolly held an early second overall but their rally started to unravel when the rain started pounding the circuit on stage two. They had two 360 degree spins in their Fiesta WRC and unsure of what caused the incidents, they opted to retire.

"We had two big spins," an exasperated Hurson said at the stage finish. "I don't know what happened. It felt like we had a puncture or something."

It later transpired that the crew had succumbed to a broken driveshaft. With their Fiesta WRC out of the running, Mark Massey and Niall Burns moved up to second overall in their Impreza WRC, just one second ahead of Connor McCloskey and John Rowan. Massey edged a few tenths further ahead after stage three and then his mechanics changed his gearbox as a precaution before heading into the fourth test.

Pushing hard to try to stay ahead of the former N.I. Champion, Massey spun during the stage and dropped to fifth, leaving McCloskey in second position. However, he couldn't afford to relax as Alan Carmichael was less than four seconds behind in third overall.

By his own admission, McCloskey wasn't really enjoying the difficult conditions. He dropped behind Carmichael after stage five and although he took a few seconds back on the final test, McCloskey had to settle for third.

"I decided to take it easy," he admitted. "You could make a mess very easily in those weather conditions."

Instead, it was Alan Carmichael and Ivor Lamont who claimed the runner-up position. They had some misfiring problems throughout the day and finished the event with a broken manifold but it was a job well done for the Mini WRC crew.

Mark Massey and Niall Burns recovered from their earlier spin to bring their Impreza WRC home in fourth overall while an impressive drive from Barry Morris and Declan Campbell saw them net fifth overall as well as top two-wheel-drive honours with their Escort MkII.

An equally impressive run was enjoyed by sixth-placed Peter Bennett and Simon Jones. Not only was it 17-year-old Bennett's first MSA event in his newly acquired Evo, it was one of his first experiences of driving a four-wheel-drive rally car!

James Laverty and Paul Hughes had a trouble-free day aboard their Impreza to net seventh overall and first in Group N. Their only dramas came on the final stage when they caught another car which potentially cost them a couple of placings on the overall leaderboard.

"We got stuck behind a MkII Escort which then spun in front of us," Laverty explained. "We had to stop so we lost a pile of time."

Smiling Scottish visitor, Rory Young, completed his first circuit-based rally in eighth overall with his Fiesta R5. He and Allan Cathers only decided to make the trip across the Irish Sea after a number of events that they had planned to enter were cancelled.

Two-times N.I. champion Denis Biggerstaff made a successful return to competition to net ninth overall. A couple of "big slides" and a sixth gear spin kept the Dromara man on his toes but he was happy with his result at the finish, despite forgetting to put his Impreza WRC into 'stage mode' on the final stage!

Kyle White and Sean Topping completed the top 10 and won class four in their Peugeot 208 R2. The crew struggled during the early stages when their car went into limp mode due to a wiring issue and then tyre problems thwarted their progress. However, the team managed to reconnect the wires and some new tyres gave them more grip as well as added confidence.

Outside the Top 10

Just outside the top 10, Alan Smyth and Mac Kierans eventually finished 11th but they had been as high as fifth. Their Evo lost an argument with a trackside barrier on stage five which dropped them down the order.

Gary Rodgers and Brian Crawford had a solid drive with few dramas to seal 12th and second in Group N while 13th placed Jonny Morrow and Frazer Mulholland were another crew that had been in the wars. A big overshoot on stage five saw them damage the front of the Evo which Jonny had borrowed from his brother for the day!

The all-lady crew of Amy Cox and Caron McCormack didn't put a wheel out of place and arrived at the finish in 14th overall while Brian McFall and Matthew McKenna completed the top 15 in their Evo 9.

Others to suffer time-consuming spins included Lisburn's Wesley Patterson. He looked to be on course for winning class seven but he spun on the final stage and became bogged down on some wet grass. A few bystanders helped to push his car back on track but he dropped from 17th to 36th overall and handed the class win to event sponsor Fintan McGrady. Ironically, McGrady had also lost time earlier in the day for exactly the same reason!

Notable retirements included former N.I. champion George Robinson. At the end of stage two, he reported a worrying vibration coming from his new Ford Fiesta and it transpired to be a broken fan belt which put him out of the rally. Meanwhile, Banbridge's Kenny McKinstry looked set to take a top 10 finish only for engine trouble to put him out of the rally midway through the final stage.

Next Event

The battle for the Championship spoils will continue on 12 May with the Tour of the Sperrins Rally.


Posted: March 19, 2018 7:49 AM

1 Derek McGarrity/Paddy Robinson (Subaru Impreza WRC S14) 37:44.4
2 Alan Carmichael/Ivor Lamont (Mini WRC) 38:51.6
3 Connor McCloskey/John Rowan (Ford Fiesta R5+) 38:53.4
4 Mark Massey/Nial Burns (Subaru Impreza WRC S14) 39:14.1
5 Barry Morris/Declan Campbell (Ford Escort MkII) 39:35.6
6 Peter Bennett/Simon Jones (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) 39:37.0
7 James Laverty/Paul Hughes (Subaru Impreza N12B) 39:37.7
8 Rory Young/Allan Cathers (Ford Fiesta R5) 39:40.4
9 Denis Biggerstaff/Stephen Jess (Subaru Impreza WRC S9) 39:45.1
10 Kyle White/Sean Topping (Peugeot 208 R2) 39:50.3
Class Winners
Class 1:  Gareth Deazley/Stephen McCombe (Honda Civic)
Class 2:  James Laverty/Paul Hughes (Subaru Impreza N12B)
Class 3:  Gerard Hughes/Paul Hughes (Peugeot 205GTi)
Class 4:  Kyle White/Sean Topping (Peugeot 208 R2)
Class 5:  Ian Green/Amanda Green (Peugeot 205GTi)
Class 6:  Barry Morris/Declan Campbell (Ford Escort MkII)
Class 7:  Fintan McGrady/Jordayna Magill (Ford Escort MkII)
Class 8:  Connor McCloskey/John Rowan (Ford Fiesta R5+)
Class 9:  Derek McGarrity/Paddy Robinson (Subaru Impreza WRC)
Class 10:  Andrew Bushe/Chris McSherry (Vauxhall Chevette HSR)

SS1-6 Derek McGarrity/Paddy Robinson (Subaru Impreza WRC S14)

Stage Winners
SS1-6 Derek McGarrity/Paddy Robinson (Subaru Impreza WRC S14)

McGarrity/Robinson Head Entry for McGrady Insurance Bishopscourt Stages!

Posted: March 7, 2018 1:03 PM

The 2018 McGrady Insurance MSA Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship blasts off this Saturday (10 March) with a stunning line-up for the Bishopscourt Stages Rally!

Four former N.I. Champions bolster an already strong entry across all categories of the event which is also sponsored by Downpatrick based insurance brokers McGrady Insurance.

Derek McGarrity, who last won the N.I. title in 2016, is seeded at number one in his Impreza WRC. Having won the rally every year it has run since 2012, his tally of Bishopscourt victories speaks for itself. The Glengormley driver is looking for his sixth consecutive win but he has a tough job ahead of him.

Vying for the spoils will be former Irish National Champion, Peadar Hurson. Although the Newry man only plans to contest a handful of events this year in his Fiesta WRC, he is aiming to better his 2017 sixth-placed finish.

"I haven't sat in the car since last year so I'm looking forward to getting out for a run," Hurson said. "I've done Bishopscourt before and it's an event that suits me as it's so close to home. I'm looking forward to it."

Another former N.I. Champion starts the event at number three. Connor McCloskey won the title back in 2008 and is ready to blow off the winter cobwebs with his Fiesta WRC.

"I like the look of the Northern Ireland Rally Championship this year," McCloskey admitted. "I don't have any solid plans in terms of doing the full Championship but I'll do the first few rounds and take it from there."

Mark Massey finished in a strong second overall at the recent non-championship New Year Stages and he starts the event at number four, this time with an Impreza WRC at his disposal. Alan Carmichael finished third overall in last year's title chase and completes the top five seeds with his Mini WRC.

A quartet of leading two-wheel-drive crews follows, each in Ford Escort MkII rally cars of various specifications. They include Lisburn's Wesley Patterson, Belfast's Fintan McGrady, Maghera's Martin McCormack who is one of six crews running in the Historic category, and Banbridge's David Armstrong.

The top 10 is bookended by another former champion, Denis Biggerstaff, who won the N.I. title in 1999 and 2001. After a number of years out of regular competition, Biggerstaff made a comeback at January's New Year Stages only for engine problems to force his retirement early in the event so he's back to make amends.

Such is the quality of competition that another former champion is seeded just outside the top 10. George Robinson, who claimed series honours back in 1995, has a new car at his disposal. Listed as a Fiesta WRC on the entry list, his car is actually a Fiesta with Escort WRC running gear.

"Other than sitting in the car to make sure I fit in the seat, I haven't been in it yet!" Robinson laughed. "I'm hoping to drive it a couple of days before the rally. It should be a bit more nimble than my old Evo so it'll be interesting to see how it works."

One notable name that's missing from the entry is that of reigning champion, Jonny Greer. However, the Carryduff driver hasn't completely ruled out getting to the start line...

"We're still waiting on parts arriving from Citroen for a new car that we're building," Greer said. "The bad weather has delayed things but we haven't completely ruled it out. If a miracle happens and the parts arrive, we'll try to get an entry for Saturday but at the moment we're in limbo."

The event, which also hosts a round of the NCSA Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland, will feature six stages within the confines of Bishopscourt Race Circuit with the first getting underway at approximately 9.30am. Spectators are welcome to attend - a £10 entrance fee payable at the gate which includes parking. Accompanied under 16s are free.

Seeded Entry List

Posted: March 5, 2018 6:35 AM

1 Derek McGarrity/Paddy Robinson (Subaru Impreza WRC) [9]
2 Peadar Hurson/Damien Connolly (Ford Fiesta WRC) [9]
3 Connor McCloskey/John Rowan (Ford Fiesta R5) [8]
4 Mark Massey/Burns Nial (Subaru Impreza WRC S14) [8]
5 Alan Carmichael/TBA (MINI WRC) [9]
6 Wesley Patterson/Ray Fitzpatrick (Ford Escort Mk2) [7]
7 Fintan McGrady/Jordayna Magill (Ford Escort) [7]
8 Martin McCormack/Laura Conlon (Ford Escort Mk2) [10]
9 David Armstrong/Paul Mulholland (Ford Escort Mk2) [7]
10 Denis Biggerstaff/Stephen Jess (Subaru Impreza WRC) [8]
11 George Robinson/Tommy Speers (Ford Fiesta WRC) [8]
12 James Kennedy/Heather Kennedy (Ford Escort Mk2) [6]
14 Paul Britton/George Tinsley (Subaru Impreza N12B) [2]
15 Gary Rodgers/Brian Crawford (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) [2]
16 James Laverty/Paul Hughes (Subaru Impreza N12B) [2]
17 Jonny Morrow/TBA (TBA) [8]
18 John McGaffin/Aaron Faulkner (Suburu Impreza) [8]
19 Amy Cox/Caron McCormack (Skoda Fabia S2000) [9]
20 Andrew McCormick/Robert McCormick (Vauxhall Chevette) [6]
21 Kyle White/Sean Topping (Peugeot 208 R2) [4]
22 Barry Morris/Declan Campbell (Ford Escort Mk2) [6]
23 Brian McFall/Matthew McKenna (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) [2]
24 John Devlin/John McCarthy (Ford Escort Mk2) [6]
25 Alastair Cochrane/TBA (Ford Escort) [6]
26 Alan Atcheson/Stephen McNeilly (Ford Fiesta 2500) [8]
27 Chris McGurk/David Mannion (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) [8]
28 Conor McCrossan/Connor Murphy (Skoda Fabia S2000) [9]
29 William Herron/Geoff Patterson (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo) [2]
30 Drew Wylie/Brian McGrath (Ford Escort) [10]
31 Philip Wylie/Lewis Dunlop (Ford Escort RS1800) [10]
32 Andrew Straney/Rudy Tate (Vauxhall Astra) [6]
33 Andrew Bushe/Chris McSherry (Vauxhall Chevette HSR) [10]
34 Jamie Grant/Olivia Coulter (Toyota Starlet) [5]
35 Geoffrey Nevin/Paul Nevin (Ford Escort) [5]
36 Ian Green/Amanda Green (Peugeot 205 GTI) [5]
37 William McClurkin/Sarah Bell (Ford Escort Mk2) [5]
38 Adrian Grant/Chris Grant (Subaru Impreza) [8]
39 Peter Bennett/Simon Jones (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) [8]
40 Alan Smyth/MacKierans (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X) [8]
41 Mervyn Tate/Dennis McMullan (Talbot Sunbeam) [3]
42 Gerard Hughes/Paul Hughes (Peugeot 205 GTI) [3]
43 Colin Price/Ashley Boulton (Vauxhall Corsa) [3]
44 Philip White/Nicola White (Nissan Micra) [3]
45 Peter Gallagher/TBA (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo) [8]
46 Michelle Morelli/Stephen Smith (Honda Civic) [4]
47 Raymond Doyle/Ryan Girvan (Toyota Corolla) [4]
48 Daniel Hamill/Nathan Quin (Peugeot 106 GTI) [4]
49 Gareth Deazley/Stephen McCombe (Honda Civic) [1]
50 Michael Nutt/Dessie Nutt (Honda Civic) [1]
51 Mark Robinson/James Holland (Honda Civic) [1]
52 Darren McGrath/Tony McGovern (Honda Civic) [1]
53 Kyle Elder/Mark Elder (Honda Civic) [1]
54 Andrew Bustard/TBA (Ford Escort Mk2) [5]
55 Chris Byers/Joan Gilmore (Ford Escort Mk2) [5]
56 Garerh Nevin/Jonathan Nevin (Ford Escort) [5]
57 Damien McGauran/Michaella McGinn (BMW 320) [6]
58 Cathal Mulgrew/Kieran Mulgrew (Ford Escort Mk2) [6]
59 William Morgan/John Henderson (Ford Escort) [7]
60 Johno Doogan/Ciaran Marron (Ford Escort Mk2) [7]
61 Conor Lavery/Mo Downey (Ford Escort) [6]
62 Andrew White/Katie McComb (Peugeot 205 RWD) [6]
63 Jim Feenan/Barry McParland (Ford Escort) [6]
64 Dermot O'Hagan/Pierce Jnr. Doheny (Honda Civic) [4]
65 Conor Cochrane/Michael Johnston (Ford Escort Mk2) [3]
66 Ryan Okane/James Duffin (Honda Civic) [1]
67 Mervyn Wilson/TBA (Ford Escort) [3]
68 John Adams/Noel Watt (Ford Escort) [10]
69 Malcolm Pedlow/TBA (BMW 2002tii) [10]
70 Shane Murray/Patrick McMullan (Ford Escort) [6]
71 Denis Patterson/Robert Harold (Ford Gartrac G3) [6]
72 Conor Gillespie/TBA (Ford Escort) [5]
73 Nicky Caughey/Graeme Stewart (Escort Mk 2 Pinto) [5]
74 Mark Stewart/Gareth Badger (Mazda MX5) [4]
75 Stephen Caldwell/Steven McCrossan (Vauxhall Corsa) [3]
76 Derek Robinson/Darren Flanagan (Toyota Corolla Group A) [4]
77 Marcus McElwee/John Henderson (Citroen C1) [J]
78 Peter Beaton/Paul Gallagher (Peugeot 107) [J]
79 Sam Adams/Andrew Bushe (Skoda Citygo Sport) [J]
80 Reece Pollock/Hugh Watson (Nissan Micra) [J]

Final Instructions available on the Club Website, link below.

Entries Received / On Line Entry / Regulations / Details

Posted: February 2, 2018 4:22 AM

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