SS5: Rally leader Derek McGarrity in trouble!

Derek McGarrity's stricken Fiesta WRC

AFTER SS5: There was drama after the stage five finish as something caught fire in rally leader Derek McGarrity’s Fiesta WRC!

As he arrived back into his service bay after clocking in at the time control, flames were spotted by onlookers, forcing his crew to grab the fire extinguishers. The flames were extinguished but we’re not yet sure if the Glengormley man will be able to contest the final stage.

Prior to the incident, McGarrity reckoned the stage time that he was awarded for stage four was 30 seconds too slow.

“Our time from stage four is 30 seconds wrong,” McGarrity said. “OK, we’re still leading but that’s not the point. I don’t know if it’s going to be corrected or not.”

As it stands, he still leads the rally by 5.4 seconds from Stephen Wright and Keith Rainey with one stage remaining.

Darren and Nathan Gass continue to hold third overall but the timesheets show they have incurred a 10 second road penalty. Only for the penalty, he could have been just two-tenths of a second behind the rally leaders.

Their troubles have been compounded by rally traffic on the stage as the crew were slowed by another competitor shortly after leaving the start line.

“That’s happened three times out of five stages,” a resigned Gass said, “but what can you do?”

Derek and Mark McGeehan have bounced back up to fourth overall after another good run. Unfortunately, it could have been even better only for the Mini WRC crew getting “stuck behind an Escort who wouldn’t let me past”.

Kenny McKinstry dropped down to fifth position after a spin near the start of the stage.

“I put new tyres on and there were no heat in them,” McKinstry recalled. “We had a spin at the bottom of the circuit so must have lost around 10 seconds.”

Alan Carmichael said he was expecting to lose a lot of time as he decided not to change his tyres.

“I don’t want to spend £1200 on a set of tyres for two stages,” he admitted. “It wasn’t too bad – I lost about 10 seconds or so.”

Mark Massey arrived at the stage finish sporting some damage to the front of his Fiesta.

“I just braked too late and clipped the tyres at a chicane,” he explained. “There’s a misfire in the car too.”

Mark Massey

James and Heather Kennedy continue to lead the two-wheel drive category while Keith White was still feeling frustrated after his stage four troubles.

John Devlin and Fintan McGrady are enjoying a battle with 10 seconds separating the two drivers. Richard Tannahill is starting to increase his pace now that he’s becoming a bit more settled in his car.

“The last time I was out I had an accident,” he revealed. “I’m starting to enjoy it now.”

Joe McQuillan reckons he found a lot more grip on stage five and he moved up to seventh overall and a bit further down the order, Liam McFall was almost lost for words when asked what he thought about his ex-Niall Henry Evo X.

“It’s unreal,” McFall said. “It’s so steady…when you’re on the gravel you think you’re on tarmac.”

Live results are available from Just one stage remains before the winner of the Pacenotes Rally Magazine Stages in crowned.

Will reigning champion Derek McGarrity get his Fiesta WRC back out for one final fling? We’ll find out soon…

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