2024 R1: Report

Jonny Greer tops the times at McGrady Insurance NI Rally Championship opener

Jonny Greer and Niall Burns were fastest from start-to-finish at what was the
first opportunity to score points in the McGrady Insurance NI Rally
Championship at Kirkistown Race Circuit – winning by 15.3 seconds in a Citroen
C3 Rally2, writes William Neill.
Stuart Biggerstaff, supported by rally sponsor Echlinville Distillery, was on form when
wet conditions worsened mid-event. A champion himself, the Kinallen man moved his
Ford Fiesta R5 into second after the 4.4-mile SS3 – a reverse test from the opening
loop with an extra gravel section. Anthony Nestor was alongside to see over the
team’s secured place by over 19 seconds.

Second overall, Stuart Biggerstaff is a contender for the McGrady Insurance NI Rally Championship.
Photo: NeillPics.com / William Neill

Back to Greer and after SS2 the Carryduff driver reported a clean line was appearing
on the stage but conditions remained greasy and noted the bottom section was
particularly difficult before half-time.
SS4 and the leader slid off the road at the flying finish, showing how difficult it was to
maintain the correct pace. The final stage format for SS5 and SS6 was the longest of
the day, and Greer was cautious of the desired final result.
Derek McGarrity’s long association with the North Armagh Motor Club event stood the
Skoda Fabia R5 driver in good stead with an early second, 2.4 seconds behind the
lead time on SS1. The distance from both Greer and Biggerstaff increased throughout
the day however, to have to settle for the final podium place with Paddy Robinson.
Donegal’s Aaron McLaughlin and Darren Curran were down in eighth after SS1 but
bounced back with a second fastest time on SS2 only to overshoot and go off the road
again on the next test. It got worse – poor visibility from the recently purchased
Volkswagen Polo R5’s windscreen on SS4 made for a difficult fight back. Third fastest
on both the penultimate and final stage made all the difference, moving from seventh
to fourth.
Despite a first corner spin Jason Dickson and Martin Brady recovered to finish fifth,
6.6 seconds back but place secured by 7.4 seconds.
Peadar Hurson, in a ROK Motorsport converted right-hand-drive Volkswagen Polo,
moved from an early tenth to sixth with a fourth fastest stage time the Newry driver’s
highest placing of the day.
In a Proton S2500 debut Marty Toner was seventh and top of the open class finishers.
Niall Henry came across a tyre marking the course on SS1 in eighth, successful track
racing driver Michael Cullen was ninth and top lady points scorer Emma McKinstry
rounded off the top ten.

Philip Allen was among the front runners but a slick tyre choice and confusion on
where to go on another stage, he ended up at the back end of the top 20. As high as
third after two stages, we can expect the McGeehan Motorsport-run driver to remain a
contender for rally wins.


Despite not competing since May, Colin Price holds the most points in the two-wheel-drive category of
the McGrady Insurance NI Rally Championship. Photo: NeillPics.com / William Neill

Colin Price hadn’t competed since May but was fit enough to win the two-wheel-drive
race with Billy Regan. The Toyota Starlet was out in front by 16.5 seconds.
Barry Morris’ Darrian T90 GTR+ update was fastest on the first stage with Price
finding his feet. A gear shift failure for Morris ruled the early pacesetter out for Price
to take control while three others fought it out for second, namely Jaye Nevin, Jonny
Cargo and eventual runner up James Kennedy. Peugeot 205 mounted Nevin ended
third, but fastest in class.
Top FIA two-wheel-drive points went to Se Og Martin, from Marshall Kennedy.


The McGrady Insurance NI Rally Championship notes future rally talent with a junior category, now
headed by Ben McFall. Photo: NeillPics.com / William Neill

Leaving Kirkistown Ben McFall leads the junior race from Darragh Kelly. The Mitsubishi
Lancer E9 driver from Bushmills jumped from his car 64 seeding to 13th overall,
almost a minute ahead of his nearest rival.
With the junior category eligibility based on age, Kelly was fastest in his class by over
two minutes using a Peugeot 208 R2. Rally school instructor Joshua Baird sits third.


Current historic champion Jimmy Mills, guided by Michael Johnston, has started the
year off well with full points as the sole finishers at round one. More competition is
expected throughout the season.


Christopher Murphy, son of event organising committee member, Eddie, had his Ford
Escort Mk2 on stage for the first time. From Armagh, but travelling from America to
compete was Andrew Frizzle and both Kyle White and Alan Carmichael retired on what
was a British Rally Championship test.


Class 1: Jimmy Mills/Michael Johnston (Ford Escort Mk2); Class 2: Se Og Martin/Sean
Walsh (Peugeot 208 R4); Class 3: Peter Dowds/Steven Dowds (Nissan Micra); Class
4: Darragh Kelly/Ashley Boulton (Peugeot 208 R2); Class 5: Jonathan Strain/Scott
Strain (Peugeot 205 GTi); Class 6: Colin Price/Bill Regan (Toyota Starlet); Class 7:
Jayne Nevin/Eoghan Moore (Peugeot 205); Class 8: Ben McFall/Damian McAuley
(Mitsubishi Lancer E9); Class 9: Richard O’Lone/James Turkington (Ford Fiesta R3);
Class 10: Jonny Greer/Niall Burns (Citroen C3 Rally2); Class 11: Marty Toner/Ben
Teggart (Proton S2500).


Next up in the five round series is the Race & Rally Stages at Bishopscourt on March 9
which will host a new single-lap stage format. Entries remain open at

There is more coverage from round one with an action photo gallery set to
feature on the McGrady Insurance NI Rally Championship Facebook page and
a highlights package on YouTube.

Results from the Echlinville Distillery Stage Rally
Full results are available from www.rallyscore.net

McGrady Insurance NI Rally Championship 2024 points
Full points are available from www.nirallychampionship.com

McGrady Insurance NI Rally Championship 2024 Calendar remaining rounds:
March 9 – Race & Rally Stages (Bishopscourt Race Circuit) – Ballynahinch & District
Motor Club
April 27 – Maiden City Stages (closed road) – Maiden City Motor Club
May 18 – GO Tour of the Sperrins (closed road) – Magherafelt & District Motor Club
July 20 – Tyrone Stages (closed road) – Cookstown Motor Club
November 16 – Reserve date (may be used in the event of a cancelled round)

Follow YouTube channel – www.youtube.com/@NIRally
Follow Facebook page – www.facebook.com/nirallying and
Bookmark website – www.nirallychampionship.com

EDITOR NOTE: Photography may be used for publication free of charge providing
credit is given to the photographer.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login