SS1: McGarrity Grabs Lead After Stage 1!

SS1: Derek McGarrity and Damien Garvey have grabbed the early lead of the McGrady Insurance Stages Rally at Bishopscourt Race Circuit. Driving his newly acquired Ford Fiesta WRC, the former champion had a big grin on his face at the stage finish as he laid down the marker over the slippery opening test to emerge 2.7 seconds clear of Derek and Mark McGeehan in their Mini WRC.

“That was brilliant!” McGarrity said after the test. “The car is really good. I caught another car but we lost minimal time.”

In second position, the McGeehan father and son crew reckoned they were too brave with their tyre choice.

“I went out on a medium compound tyre,” Derek said. “It was very, very mucky and slippery on the concrete sections.”

Kieron and Amy Graffin hold third in their Fiesta R5, 12 seconds behind the leaders, with Kieron echoing McGeehan’s thoughts.

“It was very slippery on the concrete but then there is loads of grip on the track,” he said. “You could get caught out very easily. You just have to find a happy medium.”

Gareth Sayers and Gareth Gilchrist were fourth fastest and reported no dramas while fifth placed Jason Mitchell and Kenny Bustard hold fifth in their Fiesta R5 despite stalling.

“We stalled on the start line,” Mitchell said, “and I think the car is a bit down on power but the time wouldn’t have been too bad only for the stall.”

Kevin Kelleher and Martin Brady described a few opposite lock moments. They hold sixth ahead of Emma McKinstry and Kenny Hull.

“I didn’t have a clue what I was doing on the first lap!” McKinstry said. “It took a bit of time to settle in.”

Joe McQuillan said he fitted his Evo with brand new soft compound tyres but reckoned they were the wrong choice…but said he would have to persevere with them. Joe Hegarty had a difficult opener as he broke a shaft, giving his service crew plenty of work to do at the service halt.

In the two-wheel-drive category, James and Heather Kennedy were quickest with James reckoning that the stage would suit anyone who prefers slippery conditions and less of the main track is being used this year. Drew Stewart and David White are second and reckoned they should have used ‘wets’.

Niall and Ciaran Carey used slick tyres and reckoned they worked well after the first lap. Alastair Cochrane caught a car on two laps but was still upbeat and Jamie Grant was being cautious on his first stage after his Starlet’s rebuild.

Crews are now back in service. Stage two is starting soon – the sweeper is on the start line! Latest results are available from

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