SS1: Henry Grabs Early Loughgall Rally Lead!

SS1: A damp and slippery Loughgall Country Park greeted competitors for the opening stage of the PRM Group/RPM Motorsport Loughgall Stages Rally but Desi and Mark Henry took it in their stride as they raced into the rally lead.

Driving their Hyundai i20 R5, the Henry pairing were fastest on the test by 2.4 seconds, despite thinking they had a puncture.

“It’s very tricky and narrow in places,” Henry said at the stage finish. “I thought we had a puncture but I think we’re still fastest.”

Reigning champion, Stephen Wright, admitted to being cautious but he still set second fastest. Navigated by Liam Moynihan, the Fiesta crew were 1.8s quicker than current championship leaders, Jonny Greer and Kirsty Riddick.

“It was very slippery,” Greer said. “We ran wide on the grass a couple of times.”

Damian Toner is a five-times consecutive winner of the Loughgall event but despite his experience here, few expected him to be as high as fourth overall in these slippery conditions with his two-wheel-drive Escort. He admitted that it was “hard to find grip” but still managed to set a strong pace. He and Denver Rafferty are just 2.8s adrift of Greer and ahead of a lot of four-wheel-drive machinery.

Aidan Wray and Kieran McGrath have acquitted themselves well in their Fiesta R5. The number 21 seeds are fifth overall ahead of Barry Morris and Dylan Doonan in their Darrian T90.

Aaron McLaughlin is another contender for the overall championship title and he finds himself in seventh overall after an eye-opening run.

“It’s very tricky,” McLaughlin said. “There are areas where I could push harder but one small mistake and that would be the end of it.”

McLaughlin is just ahead of Derek McGarrity and Paddy Robinson who commented that they were too cautious in places.

McGarrity said: “Areas that I thought were going to be slippy weren’t, and areas that I thought there would be plenty of grip, there wasn’t!”

A pair of Escorts rounded off the top 10 after stage one with John Devlin and John McCarthy ninth ahead of John Bradley and Ryan Crozier in 10th. Interestingly, Bradley was the only driver who said: “there was more grip than I expected!”

Outside the top 10, Peadar Hurson and Damian Connolly had a difficulty start to the event when they spun their Fiesta WRC.

“We had a 360 degree spin near the end,” Hurson explained. “It happened in the farmyard area. And then I couldn’t get the car to restart.”

Others in trouble included Jason Black who spun his Starlet and then struggled to get off the grass. Andrew Bustard had a half spin in his Evo, Gareth Irwin spun his Escort and the rear of Peter Bennett’s Skoda caught a tree and damaged a wheel.

Crews are now starting stage two. Latest results are available from

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