Henry Vies to Stay in Title Hunt as McGarrity Closes on Title!

(Image: Philpics.net) The McGrady Insurance MSA Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship bursts back into action this Saturday when the Omagh based McKelvey Asbestos Bushwhacker Rally gets underway!

Omagh Motor Club has received a stunning entry of more than 120 crews in a variety of machinery for the 11-stage event which could see Derek McGarrity and Paddy Robinson crowned as the 2018 N.I. Champions.

Only two crews can stop McGarrity in his tracks and they include number one seeds, Desi Henry and Liam Moynihan. Having won last year’s event, Henry will proudly display the coveted ‘number one’ on the doors of his Skoda Fabia R5. However, finishing as number one in this year’s title race will prove a little more difficult.

To stay in the title race, the Portglenone driver must win the event and hope that McGarrity finishes outside the top four. The same can be said for Mini WRC pilot Alan Carmichael, who starts at number 14. He also needs a victory to keep his hopes alive.

Anything less and the title will belong to McGarrity. He is seeded at number nine and the championship odds are very much in his favour. However, such is the quality of entry that even a top four position, which would be enough to secure his eighth title success, is far from certain.

Desi Henry will lead the 122-strong field away from the Silverbirch Hotel start ramp at approximately 9.30am on Saturday. Following in his wheel tracks will be a host of crews vying for the rally spoils including newly crowned Valvoline Forestry Champion Josh Moffett.

Moffett secured victory and the Irish title just a couple of weeks ago at Enniskillen’s Lakeland Stages where one of his main rivals, Barry McKenna, crashed out on the opening stage. McKenna, who lives in New York, is back to make amends and starts at number three.

Former N.I. Champion, Connor McCloskey, has entered in an Impreza WRC. It will be his second foray into the series this year and he starts at number four ahead of the Impreza belonging to former Scottish champion, Jock Armstrong.

Irish forestry series regulars Adrian Hetherington (Corolla WRC), Andrew Purcell (Mitsubishi) and Cathan McCourt (Fiesta R5) complete the top eight crews with Derek McGarrity at nine in a Focus WRC ahead of Vivian Hamill’s Fiesta R5. There are many more notable names outside the top 10 including former N.I. champion, Kenny McKinstry, as well as Martin Cairns in his Fiesta WRC.

The two-wheel drive battle will be intense with David Crossen going up against newly crowned British Historic Champion, Paul Barrett. Others in the mix include Paul’s brother, Ryan Barrett, as well as Shane McGirr, Mickey Conlon, David Condell, Oran Donnelly and John Gordon, who is back out in his Escort after it landed on its roof during the Lakeland Stages Rally.

The rally gets underway around 9.30am. Crews will tackle 11 stages and the service area will be based at Aghyaran Community Centre in Castlederg. The champagne spraying finish will take place at the Silverbirch Hotel around 5.25pm. Follow the regular event updates on fb.com/nirallying on Saturday.

Bushwhacker Rally: Top 30 Seeds
(Download full entry list HERE)

1 Desi Henry/Liam Moynihan (Skoda Fabia R5)
2 Josh Moffett/Stephen Thornton (Ford Fiesta)
3 Barry McKenna/Leon Jordan (Ford Fiesta)
4 Connor McCloskey/John Rowan (Subaru Impreza WRC)
5 Jock Armstrong/Graham Henderson (Subaru Impreza N11)
6 Adrian Hetherington/Ronan O’Neill (Toyota Corolla WRC)
7 Andrew Purcell/Mark Wiley (Mitsubishi Evo 9)
8 Cathan McCourt/Barry McNulty (Ford Fiesta R5)
9 Derek McGarrity/Paddy Robinson (Ford Focus WRC)
10 Vivan Hamill/Andrew Grennan (Ford Fiesta R5)
11 Kenny McKinstry/Noel Orr (Subaru Impreza WRC)
12 Martin Cairns/Peter Ward (Ford Fiesta WRC)
14 Alan Carmichael/Ivor Lamont (Mini WRC)
15 Alan Smyth/Mac Kierans (Mitsubishi Evo X)
16 Patrick O’Brien/Stephen O’Brien (Mitsubishi Evo)
17 Stephen McCann/Kaine Treanor (Ford Fiesta R5)
18 Niall McCullagh/Ryan McCloskey (Mitsubishi Evo 9 GpN)
19 Niall Devine/Kieran McGrath (Mitsubishi Evo 9 GpN)
20 Conor McCourt/Caolan McKenna (Mitsubishi Evo 9 GpN)
21 Donall Sweeney/Stephen O’Hanlon (Mitsubishi Evo 6)
22 Darren McKelvey/Aaron Johnston (Mitsubishi Evo 9)
23 Gareth Sayers/Gareth Gilchrist (Subaru Impreza WRC)
24 Niall Henry/Damien Duffin (Citroen DS3 R5)
25 Paul Britton/George Tinsley (Subaru Impreza GpN)
26 David Crossen/Aileen Kelly (Ford Escort MkII)
27 Paul Barrett/Gordon Noble (Ford Escort MkII)
28 Ryan Barrett/TBC (Ford Escort MkII)
29 Shane McGirr/Liam McIntyre (Ford Escort MkII)
30 Liam Regan/David McElroy (Mitsubishi Evo)

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