NAMC Kirkistown Stages - (Sat) 23 Feb 19

Posted: April 14, 2019 10:40 AM - 5716 Hits

Pacenotes Rally Magazine Stages Rally - Saturday 23 Feb 2019
Round 1 - 2019 Northern Ireland Rally Championship
Round 2 - 2019 Junior 1000 Rally Challenge (NI)

Photo: Jonathan MacDonald

Stephen Wright/Keith Rainey Win Pacenotes Rally Magazine Stages at Kirkistown!

Posted: April 14, 2019 10:40 AM

Stephen Wright and Keith Rainey have won the Pacenotes Rally Magazine Stages Rally, round one of the McGrady Insurance Motorsport UK Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship!

After what was a drama-filled day, Wright powered his Ford Fiesta R5 to the finish line 6.2 seconds ahead of the Skoda Fabia R5 belonging to Darren and Nathan Gass while Derek and Mark McGeehan were third in their Mini WRC.

The event started with Derek McGarrity and Kieron Graffin setting the pace in their ex-Martin Cairns Ford Fiesta WRC. The crew simply annihilated the field on the opening stage when they emerged more than eight seconds clear of nearest rival Wright.

McGarrity continued to set the pace over the ensuing tests while others haemorrhaged time. Wright dropped down the order with a couple of spins while Darren Gass incurred a 10-second penalty for cutting a corner.

"We went on the inside of a tractor tyre to get past another car on the second stage," Gass explained. "We had probably already lost 10 seconds being stuck behind them!"

However, it all changed when the heavens opened just before the start of stage four. As the crews started to line up for the start, a deluge of rain at the Kirkistown Race Circuit venue transformed the conditions.

Many of the front-runners were caught out on the wrong tyres, including rally leader McGarrity, who caught another car and seemingly dropped 25 seconds to the fastest time set by Wright.

"Our time for that stage is 30 seconds slower than it should be," McGarrity said at the time. "OK, we're still leading but that's not the point. I don't know if it's going to be corrected or not."

The erroneous time dropped him into the clutches of Stephen Wright. He had set fastest time on the test and jumped from seventh overall into second position, just 4.4 seconds behind McGarrity.

However, the suspect time was to be the least of his worries. He was back on form through stage five and set another fastest time - his fourth of the day - to lead the event by 5.4 seconds with one stage remaining. Then disaster struck.

After the finish of the stage and as he returned to his service bay, flames were spotted under the bonnet of his Fiesta WRC. His crew grabbed the fire extinguishers and extinguished the fire but his Fiesta was going no further.

"The car became too hot and melted a pipe," one of his mechanics explained. "It was a plastic pipe so we couldn't fix it for the final stage."

McGarrity's exit put Stephen Wright in prime position for the rally win. He entered the final test with 4.8 seconds in hand over Darren and Nathan Gass. Another solid run ensured that the Newbliss man secured victory as well as maximum points in the McGrady Insurance N.I. Rally Championship!

"We made life difficult for ourselves!" Wright admitted, referring to his two spins. "We dropped quite a lot of time on stages two and three but then we got a lucky break with a good tyre choice on stage four. We were a bit fortunate in that our seeding was quite far back so we had a bit more foresight (when it came to the weather conditions and tyre choice) than the rest of our competitors."

"I'm very happy with the day out and it was great to have Keith navigating for me. He's always on the spanners and always keeping this car in absolutely top shape. It was great to have him alongside and he was able to tweak things through the day to help get us here."

He added: "We didn't set out this year with any particular championship in mind...but this win certainly makes it more tempting to do the Northern Ireland Championship!"

Coming home in second position, Darren and Nathan Gass were left rueing that 10-second penalty but the crew were gracious in defeat as they congratulated the rally winners.

"We caught other competitors on almost every stage," a resigned Gass said, "but what can you do? It's the nature of these events."

In third overall, Derek and Mark McGeehan echoed Gass' thoughts. v
"Catching cars is always an issue," Derek said. "We had it four times in a row but we still had a good day."

The Mini WRC crew were pleased with the result, especially after the opening stage when they couldn't understand how they were so much slower than early leader McGarrity. However, they picked up the pace to rise from a low point of seventh overall to finish in the top three.

Former N.I. champion, Kenny McKinstry, didn't escape unscathed in the difficult conditions as he was another driver who lost time with a spin. He kept his head together and eventually finish fourth overall ahead of Alan Carmichael and Samuel Hamill who enjoyed a day of testing their Hyundai R5.

"We had some big drifts and the car handles brilliantly," a delighted Carmichael said. "It does everything well. It's so nimble compared to everything else. I came out for a good test and that's what we had so I'm happy."

Joe McQuillan and Charlotte McDowall were equally delighted with their sixth overall finish. They lost a few seconds with a misfire but ultimately it didn't cost them a position at the finish.

It was McQuillan's second event in his Impreza WRC and he also emerged victorious in his much-hyped battle with friend and rival, Brian Watson, who lost time on the opening stage with power-steering trouble.

Sean Devine made a successful return to the N.I. Championship after a long layoff. Navigated by Sean Ferris, they spent the day learning their new mount in preparation for the long season ahead.

"It was my first day out in the car and I've got a lot to learn but I enjoyed it," Devine revealed. "I'm looking forward to doing the full Northern Ireland Championship."

Two-Wheel Drive

In the two-wheel drive battle, it looked as though Keith White and Paul Mulholland were going to edge away with the category win until rain struck on that fourth stage. The crew were caught out on the wrong tyres and dropped like a stone behind their main rivals.

"We were never going to catch James Kennedy after that fourth stage," White said. "So I just slid the car about on the last stage and enjoyed it."

Instead, it was the reigning two-wheel drive champions, James and Heather Kennedy, who claimed the category victory. They had trailed White until the wet stage four gave them an opportunity to move in front.

Running a bit further down the order, Kennedy had the opportunity to fit some wet tyres to his Escort and powered into the lead. That proved to be the turning point of the event and he stayed in front to claim the category win as well as eighth overall.

"I wasn't looking forward to the wet at all but we had a really good run," Kennedy said. "We had a small overshoot in the morning and I thought the power in Keith's Escort was helping him to edge ahead in the dry conditions but then it all changed."

White eventually finished second in the category, just outside the top 10 overall, while John Devlin and John McCarthy were third ahead of Fintan and Cormac McGrady.

Gareth and Jonathan Nevin were fifth in class and 19th overall, just a couple of seconds ahead of Drew Stewart and David White who lost third and fourth gear midway through the day. Luckily, they had a spare gearbox with them and their service crew swapped the 'box during service, keeping them in the rally.

Unfortunately for Kyle White and Alan Purdy, they weren't as lucky. They lost all drive towards the end of stage three and although they managed to finish the test, a damaged ignition coil put them out of the rally.

"It's only a £15 part," explained his father, Gary White. "We walked around to try and find a petrol road car that could donate the part to keep him in the rally but we couldn't find a suitable car."

And The Rest...

Richard Tannahill used the event to bed himself back into the groove after his last rally resulted in an accident. He and navigator Cheryl Tannahill climbed four places on the final stage to seal ninth overall from the Impreza belonging to James Leckey and Jordan Murphy.

With Keith White in 11th and Brian Watson in 12th, Liam McFall and Matthew McKenna enjoyed their debut drive with the ex-Niall Henry Evo X to take 13th ahead of the Fiesta WRC belonging to Dominic McNeill and Tommy Speers.

Interestingly, this year marks Speers' 51st year competing in motorsport!

Others worth mentioning include Jonny and Simon Morrow in their stunning Mitsubishi Mirage RS. They lost a bit of time with a misfire but claimed 16th overall from the Mini WRC belonging to Nigel Feeney and Nikki Addison, who enjoyed their first visit to the Kirkistown venue.

Next Event

Round two of the McGrady Insurance Motorsport UK Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship takes crews to Bishopscourt Race Circuit on 9 March. The event marks the second and final race circuit based venue of the season and is always a popular location.


Posted: April 14, 2019 10:38 AM

1 Stephen Wright/Keith Rainey (Ford Fiesta R5) 0:30:43.1
2 Darren Gass/Nathan Gass (Skoda Fabia R5) 0:30:39.3
3 Derek McGeehan/Mark McGeehan (Mini WRC) 0:31:06.9
4 Kenny McKinstry/Eathan McColgan (Subaru Impreza WRC S14) 0:31:10.5
5 Alan Carmichael/Samuel Hamill (Hyundai i20 R5) 0:31:20.4
6 Joe McQuillan/Charlotte McDowall (Subaru Impreza WRC S11) 0:31:30.6
7 Sean Devine/Sean Ferris (Ford Fiesta R5) 0:31:35.3
8 James Kennedy/Heather Kennedy (Ford Escort MkII) 0:31:43.8
9 Richard Tannahill/Cheryl Tannahill (Peugeot 208 T16 R5) 0:31:56.5
10 James Leckey/Jordan Murphy (Subaru Impreza STI) 0:31:58.5

Leaders After
SS1-5 Derek McGarrity/Kieron Graffin (Ford Fiesta WRC)
SS6 Stephen Wright/Keith Rainey (Ford Fiesta R5)

Stage Winners
SS1 Derek McGarrity/Kieron Graffin (Ford Fiesta WRC)
SS2 Derek McGarrity/Kieron Graffin (Ford Fiesta WRC)
SS3 Derek McGarrity/Kieron Graffin (Ford Fiesta WRC)
SS4 Stephen Wright/Keith Rainey (Ford Fiesta R5)
SS5 Derek McGarrity/Kieron Graffin (Ford Fiesta WRC)
SS6 Kenny McKinstry/Eathan McColgan (Subaru Impreza WRC S14)

Seeded Entry List

Posted: February 19, 2019 4:50 AM

No Driver/Co-Driver (Car) [Class]
1 Derek McGarrity/Paddy Robinson (Ford Fiesta WRC) [9]
2 Derek McGeehan/Mark McGeehan (MINI WRC) [9]
3 Alan Carmichael/TBA (Hyundai i20 R5) [8]
4 Sean Devine/TBA (Ford Fiesta) [8]
5 Mark Massey/TBA (Ford Fiesta) [8]
6 Damian Toner/Ryan McArlie (Ford Escort MK2) [6]
7 Dominic McNeill/Tommy Speers (Ford Fiesta WRC) [9]
8 Nigel Feeney/Nikki Addison (Mini Countryman JCW WRC) [9]
9 James Kennedy/Heather Kennedy (Ford Escort MK2) [6]
10 John Devlin/John McCarthy (Ford Escort) [6]
11 Fintan McGrady/Cormac McGrady (Ford Escort MK2) [7]
12 Richard Tannahill/Cheryl Tannahill (Peugeot 208 T16 R5) [8]
14 Keith White/TBA (Ford Escort Mk1) [7]
15 Kyle White/Alan Purdy (Peugeot 208 R2) [4]
16 Peter Bennett/Eathan McColgan (TBA) [8]
17 Alastair Cochrane/Michael Johnston (Ford Escort MK2) [6]
18 Brian Watson/Sean Donnelly (Subaru Impreza WRC S11) [9]
20 Joe McQuillan/TBA (Subaru Impreza WRC S11) [9]
21 Jonny Morrow/Simon Morrow (Mitsubishi Mirage RS) [9]
22 Drew Stewart/David White (Ford Escort MK2) [6]
23 Gary Rodgers/Geoff Patterson (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) [9]
24 Jt Warnock/Robert Mack (Ford Escort) [6]
25 Alan Atcheson/Michael Laverty (Ford Fiesta) [8]
26 Colm McFall/Ronnie Craig (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) [2]
27 Jack Maguire/Keith McConnon (Ford Fiesta) [8]
28 Niall Branniff/Patrick McMullan (Ford Escort MK2) [6]
29 Drew Wylie/TBA (Ford Escort) [10]
30 Andrew Bushe/Ivor Lamont (Vauxhall Chevette HSR) [10]
31 Liam McFall/Matthew McKenna (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X) [9]
32 Seamus Branniff/Barry Savage (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) [2]
33 Michael McGarrity/Damien Garvey (Ford Fiesta R2T) [4]
34 James Leckey/David Kerr (Subaru Impreza STI) [9]
35 Gareth Nevin/Jonathan Nevin (Ford Escort MK2) [5]
36 Philip Greenlee/Declan McPhilips (Ford Escort Mk2) [6]
37 Roy Haslett/TBA (Ford Escort F2) [6]
38 David Walsh/Christian Cochrane (Ford Escort MK2) [7]
39 Harry White/TBA (Peugeot 205 RWD) [6]
40 Seamus Morris/TBA (Darrian GTR) [7]
41 Derek Crossen/TBA (Ford Escort) [6]
42 Philip White/TBA (Nissan Micra) [3]
43 Dermot O'Hagan/Pierce Doheny Jnr (Honda Civic) [4]
44 Mark Geraghty/David Geraghty (Honda Civic) [6]
45 Adrian Grant/Olivia Coulter (Ford Escort MK2) [5]
46 Conor Gillespie/Martin Harte (Ford Escort Mk2) [5]
47 Stephen Whitford/TBA (Nissan Micra) [3]
48 Paul Murdoch/TBA (Ford Escort MK2) [5]
49 Darren McGrath/Tony McGovern (Honda Civic) [1]
50 Jamie Grant/Joe Agnew (Toyota Starlet) [6]
51 Niall Carey/Ciaran Carey (BMW Compact) [7]
52 Tommy Maxwell/TBA (Ford Focus) [7]
53 Marc Johnston/TBA (Ford Escort MK2) [5]
54 Michael Nutt/Dessie Nutt (Honda Civic) [1]
55 Angus Johnson/TBA (Vauxhall DTV Chevette) [10]
56 Joel Eakin/Graham Henderson (Peugeot 106 GTI) [1]
57 Joe McAteer/John Magilton (Ford Escort MK2) [5]
58 Paul Ward/TBA (Ford Escort) [6]
59 Chris Byers/Joan Gilmore (Ford Escort MK2) [5]
60 Paddy Quinn/Owen Quinn (Ford Escort) [4]
61 John Adams/Noel Watt (Ford Escort) [10]
62 Sam Adams/Beth Cochrane (Ford Escort) [5]
63 Stephen McFerran/James McKeefry (Ford Escort) [10]
64 James Convery/Joey Walls (Subaru Impreza) [8]
65 Nicky Caughey/Chris Dunne (Ford Escort MK2) [5]
66 Mark Faulkner/TBA (Nissan Micra) [3]
67 Shane Murray/TBA (Ford Escort) [6]
68 Ciaran Maguire/Paul Maguire (Honda Civic) [4]
69 Neil Mooney/Anthony McCann (Vauxhall Corsa) [3]
70 Dean McDowell/Arnie Lutton (Vauxhall Nova) [4]
71 David Porter/Desmond Wilson (Nissan Micra) [3]
72 Adam Vance/David Vance (Honda Civic Type R) [1]
73 Kyle Elder/Mark Elder (Honda Civic) [1]
74 Malcolm Pedlow/Billy Regan (BMW 2002tii) [10]
75 Harry Brown/J Martin McGrath (Hillman Avenger) [10]

Competitors Gear Up for Kirkistown's Pacenotes Rally Magazine Stages!

Posted: February 18, 2019 1:45 PM

The 2019 McGrady Insurance Motorsport UK N.I. Stage Rally Championship gets underway this Saturday (23 February) with the Pacenotes Rally Magazine Stages at Kirkistown!

An entry of more than 70 crews has been received for the popular County Down venue with a host of high-powered machinery that includes a handful of World Rally Cars and state-of-the-art R5 rally cars ready to battle for the spoils.

Reigning champion, Derek McGarrity, is expected to lead the field off the start line. The Glengormley driver has confirmed his intent to bid for a record-making ninth N.I. Rally Championship title and although he had initially planned to use his freshly rebuilt Focus WRC, the car has since been sold. Instead, he intends to drive a Fiesta WRC.

His main opposition includes a host of Mini WRC pilots. Draperstown's Derek McGeehan is a former winner at the Kirkistown venue's New Year Stages and he also won last year's non-championship May Day Rally. He plans to use his Mini WRC, as does Scottish visitor Nigel Feeney.

Feeney has campaigned his Mini WRC for a couple of seasons but this will be his first foray into the N.I. Rally Championship scene. He has won a handful of events over the years and could be one to watch once he finds his bearings at the venue.

"I'm planning on doing the championship," Feeney revealed, "but I may have to miss one or two rounds depending on work commitments."

Meanwhile, Alan Carmichael should be up to speed after contesting last weekend's British Rally Championship opener. The Ballymoney man has switched his Mini WRC for a Hyundai i20 R5 which he used to finish second overall at last year's non-championship Turkey Run Rally in December.

Sean Devine will be among the front-runners as he makes a return to the series in a Fiesta R5. He narrowly missed out on lifting the N.I. Championship title around 10 years ago and he hasn't had many outings since the 2009 season as he struggled with a back injury.

Also returning to action is Brian McCloskey who, like Devine, hasn't had many outings in recent years. In fact, it was McCloskey's son, Connor, who denied Sean Devine the title back in 2008!

McCloskey will contest the event in a Fiesta and so too will Mark Massey. He started last year's N.I. Championship season with a fourth overall finish at Bishopscourt and will be vying to get his 2019 campaign off to an equally good start.

Other notable entries include Dominic McNeill in a Fiesta WRC, Jonny Morrow in his beautiful Mitsubishi Mirage RS while Liam McFall intends to make his debut in the ex-Niall Henry Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X.

In the two-wheel drive category, all of last year's main contenders are in the mix including champion James Kennedy, his main 2018 rival John Devlin, plus Damian Toner and championship sponsor, Fintan McGrady.

They are joined by Keith White's beautiful Ford Escort MkI and Kyle White returns to action in his Peugeot 208 R2 for the first time since his Ulster Rally accident.

Where to Watch?

All of the action will take place within the confines of Kirkistown Race Circuit near Portavogie. The North Armagh Motor Club event will feature six stages and spectators are welcome to attend. The entry fee of £15 per person is payable to the Motor Racing Club of Ireland at the gate and includes parking.

More information, including a full entry list and regular updates from the event, will be available from and on the championship's social media channels.

Entries Received

Posted: January 27, 2019 2:27 PM

On Line Entry / Regulations

Posted: January 18, 2019 5:59 PM

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