SS1: McGarrity Takes Narrow Lead at Bishopscourt

SS1: Derek McGarrity and Paddy Robinson have taken a narrow lead after the opening stage of the McGrady Insurance Stages, round one of the McGrady Insurance Motorsport UK NI Rally Championship!

The Ford Focus WRC pilot finished the opening test just eight-tenths of a second faster than Jonny Greer and Kirsty Riddick in their Citroen C3 R5, with Desi and Mark Henry a further 3.2 seconds adrift in third.

McGarrity reported that he found some sections a bit tight and his car was “very understeery” while second placed Greer commented that it took him a while to get used to everything again.

Desi Henry said it was his first time at Bishopscourt in a long time but that failed to show in the stage times as he posted third fastest.

Meanwhile, fourth placed Stephen Wright and Liam Moynihan were full of smiles at the finish. “The tyres are a little old,” Wright said. “There was a lot of drifting!”

Phillip Allen and Ian Dickson had a solid run to fifth with Niall Henry in sixth after catching the struggling Skoda Fabia belonging to Peter Bennett. He only completed one lap and limped over the finish line with a rough idling engine.

It’s Aaron McLaughlin’s first time at Bishopscourt but he and Darren Curran still managed to post seventh fastest time ahead of Peadar Hurson and Damien Connolly who reckoned they needed slightly harder compound tyres.

In ninth, Stuart Biggerstaff and Chris Nelson were caught behind another competitor for a lap which knocked them out of their stride. “We were very messy for the whole lap,” Biggerstaff said.

Kieron and Amy Graffin are 10th and reckon they need to find “a bit more time in there somewhere” while Michael McGarrity and Damien Garvey had a solid run to 11th, just ahead of leading two-wheel-drive crew, Barry Morris and Dylan Doonan.

Morris reckoned his tyres were going off but his Darrian was four seconds quicker than Jason Black and Karl Egan who hold second in the 2WD category, one-tenth ahead of Damian Toner and Denver Raffety who reckon they need “more grip at the back”.

Elsewhere in the category, James and Heather Kennedy hit trouble when “something came apart in the steering”, a worried James revealed. They were worried the steering was going to fail completely – straight was no longer straight. Hopefully, they can get it fixed in service.

Also in 2WD, Jonny Morrow and Adam Semple were also in trouble, with Morrow reckoning he had broken a rear shaft and had to nurse his Corolla around the stage.

Kenny McKinstry says he’s trying to get his eyes and general co-ordination working again and Liam McFall had a big smile on his face at the end of the stage on what is his first proper run in his Fiesta. “This is some car. It’s going well!” he smiled.

Clive Kilpatrick and Jay Colville lost time with a spin in his Skoda while Marty Toner and Kyle Diffin finished the stage with some damage to the front of their BMW M1 after going over some tyres that were on the racing line.

Andrew Bustard’s commented that his new tyres were working well and Paul McKenna said it felt like five years since he was last in the car. Gary McEvoy is having trouble with his brakes in the Evo.

Stage one is almost complete. Stage two will be starting shortly.

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