SS1: Devine Leads Henry in very slippery conditions

SS1: Henry’s ‘half’ overshoot / Jennings’ puncture / Leonard in a field / Morris is trouble

Callum Devine and Brian Hoy have grabbed the early lead after what was a very slippery opening stage at the Go Power Tour of the Sperrins Rally. Most crews were caught unawares in the extremely slippery conditions, with Devine commenting that even he was surprised at how slippery it was.

Devine was 3.6 seconds faster than second placed Desi Henry and Niall Burns, with Phillip Allen and Eugene Donnelly just one-tenth of a second further back. Henry heads the McGrady Insurance N.I. Championship contenders but it is Jonny Greer and Kirsty Riddick who are still on course for securing the title.

Greer only needs a top five finish – and that’s if Stephen Wright and Liam Moynihan win the rally. Greer finished the opener in fourth overall and a couple of seconds faster than Wright so it has been a solid start for the crew.

There have already been some dramas for a handful of the leading crews with Desi Henry reporting a “half overshoot” while Garry Jennings and Rory Kennedy lost time with a puncture. Meanwhile, Seamus Leonard and John McCaffrey had an overshoot into a field.

“We ended up in a field,” Leonard said, “but luckily the gate was open!”

Aaron McLaughlin and Darren Curran also had a lucky escape when they clipped a fence.

“I’m discovering why these cars are called World Rally Cars,” McLaughlin laughed. “They’re for world rally drivers!”

In the two-wheel-drive category, David Bogie is fresh from his top three finish at the Mull Rally with his Escort but he reported that the Sperrins stages are very different to Mull.

“One minute you’re understeering and the next you’re oversteering,” Bogie said. “It’s so tricky.”

Barry Morris had been hoping to battle with Bogie for the 2WD spoils but it appears that he is already in trouble with his Darrian. He has yet to start the opening stage.

Top 8 after SS1

1 Callum Devine/Brian Hoy (Fiesta)
2 Desi Henry/Niall Burns (i20 R5) +3.6s
3 Philip Allen/Eugene Donnelly (Fiesta R5) +3.7s
4 Jonny Greer/Kirsty Riddick (C3 R5) +6.1s
5 Peadar Hurson/Damien Connolly (Fiesta WRC) +6.7s
6 Stephen Wright/Liam Moynihan (Fiesta) +8.4s
7 Derek McGarrity/Paddy Robinson (Fabia R5) +14.1s
8 Joe McGonigle/Ciaran Geaney (Fiesta R5) +17.0s

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