SS4: Devine maintains sperrins lead; Allen closes the gap; McLaughlin retires

SS4: Callum Devine and Brian Hoy continue to lead the rally after stage four but it was Philip Allen and Eugene Donnelly (pictured) who were quickest through the test from the recovering Desi Henry and Niall Burns!

Devine’s advantage has been trimmed to just 4.9s with two stages remaining, while Henry is a further 4.1s back. It could still be anyone’s rally as these three titans go head-to-head in a bid to secure the Go Power Tour of the Sperrins Rally victory.

Most crews reckoned the stage was even slippier compared to this morning’s run but all of the leaders survived to tell the tale. Fastest was Phillip Allen who said, “you just have to have manners but the car is working well” while Desi Henry was unsure about his tyre choice.

“We’re using a soft slick tyre,” Henry said. “I’m not sure what everyone else is using but I’m hoping the next two stages will be dry.”

In fourth overall, Jonny Greer and Kirsty Riddick have their eyes firmly secured on the McGrady Insurance N.I. Championship crown. If they can maintain their position, they will be crowned champions at the end of the day while rival Stephen Wright is holding sixth and has resigned himself to concentrate on enjoying the rest of the event.

“I don’t think we had a great time in there,” Wright said. “Hopefully our tyres will be better suited to the next two stages. The next two stages could be our last of the year so we’re going to do our best to enjoy them!”

Peadar Hurson and Damien Connolly continue to hold fifth in their Fiesta WRC despite a couple of overshoots while Garry Jennings and Rory Kennedy took a gamble on their tyre choice.

“I took a bit of a gamble with a wet tyre through there but it wasn’t too bad,” Jennings said, “but we’re going to have to change them now before the next one.”

Reports are coming through of rain towards the end of the fifth stage so those wet tyres could come in useful for the crews that opted to use them. People like Joe McGonigle, who was a bit frustrated at the stage four finish…

“We were told it was raining but it isn’t so we’re on the wrong tyre,” McGonigle said. “We couldn’t get stopped or turned and were sliding around everywhere!”

Stuart Biggerstaff’s Fiesta was back to full health on that stage after his service crew pulled out all the stops to source a replacement gearbox this morning. Biggerstaff lost fifth gear at the end of the opening stage but a phone call to McKinstry Motorsport saw the McKinstry crew remove the gearbox from the Fiesta sitting in their workshop in super-quick time.

Then the team collected the ‘box and transported it from Banbridge to Swatragh, all before Biggerstaff arrived back into service after the third stage! The service crew descended on the car and swapped gearboxes before returning to the stages. What an effort!

Unfortunately for Aaron McLaughlin, it looks like his rally is over. He tiptoed through that fourth stage as his Fiesta WRC suffered with suspected driveshaft failure.

“We’re out,” McLaughlin rued. “We had to just drive through the stage. I think it could be a rear driveshaft or something like that.”

(UPDATE 3.40pm: McLaughlin has just returned to service and is out of the event.) He joins the retirement ranks alongside the likes of Derek McGarrity, who was forced out earlier today for similar reasons.

In the two-wheel-drive category, David Bogie and John Rowan continue to lead from Marty McCormack and Barney Mitchell. “It’s great to be rallying around home again,” McCormack enthused. “First class!”

The rally is running approximately half an hour behind schedule after an incident on stage two when Seamus Leonard’s Ford Focus WRC went off the road and caused a delay. Crews will be tackling stage five shortly…

For the latest results, visit and for live stage end interviews, visit @onthepacenote.

After SS4

1 Callum Devine/Brian Hoy (Fiesta)
2 Philip Allen/Eugene Donnelly (Fiesta R5) +4.9s
3 Desi Henry/Niall Burns (i20 R5) +9.0s
4 Jonny Greer/Kirsty Riddick (C3 R5) +19.5s
5 Peadar Hurson/Damien Connolly (Fiesta WRC) +25.0s
6 Stephen Wright/Liam Moynihan (Fiesta) +51.6s

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