2024 R3: Preview

Maiden road rally of the McGrady Insurance Northern Ireland Rally Championship season

Desi Henry will start at the head of the 100-car entry at the Eakin Bros Brian James Trailers Maiden City Stages this week. Photo: William Neill / www.NeillPics.com

Round three – Eakin Bros Brian James Trailers Maiden City Stages – will be first of three closed road rallies within the McGrady Insurance Northern Ireland Rally Championship this season, writes William Neill.
Organisers, Maiden City Motor Club, have put together three stages each repeated twice in a shakeup to the two stage format in previous editions. Changes are part of the club’s 50th anniversary celebrations that will also see the Dogleap return later this season as part of the McGrady Insurance NI Forest Rally Challenge.
Back to this Saturday’s event and first on the road will be 2022 winner Desi Henry. This time though with Shane Byrne alongside and a Citroen C3 R5 the choice over a Ford Fiesta. The Kilrea driver will hope for better luck than that of the Circuit of Ireland which ended in a SS8 ditch.
Callum Devine supports his local rally with a Volkswagen Polo R5 in car two and top points holder in the McGrady Insurance-backed championship, Jonny Greer, is at three.
Castlederg’s Gareth Sayers heads the R5-spec Ford Fiesta runners ahead of the second of four Volkswagen Polos inside the top ten seeds with Aidan Wray at the wheel.
Stuart Biggerstaff, in car seven, was fourth when he lost a front wheel at round two so has work to do to move up from tenth in the championship race. Ryan Loughran, a two-wheel-drive runner in 2022, moves to the Rally2 class in another Fiesta.
Peadar Hurson and Aaron McLaughlin follow – the latter six-points behind Greer in points following a second-place finish at Bishopscourt.
The list of class ten and 11 contenders continues to include the likes of Donegal duo Joe McGonigle and Daniel Doherty, son of successful championship contender Derek McGarrity, Michael, and Jordan Hone going from the Micra Challenge to his more powerful Fiesta. Some 36 entries, of the 100 car field, come from the two top tier classes.
Two-wheel-drive sees Mark Alcorn and Damien Tourish as the lead entries. John Bonner and Camillus Bradley will surely challenge – all in Ford Escort Mk2s. Leading the two-wheel-drive class in the championship, Colin Price will start as will nearby rival Jonny Cargo.
The six-stage rally, staring close to Claudy will go as far as the Artigarvan area for stages named Lisbunny, Altishane and Colhoun’s Dip featuring sections used both by the rally in the past and the Circuit of Ireland. A full entry list can be viewed at www.rallyscore.net and more information on the event build up on the Maiden City Motor Club Facebook page. Roads start to close from 9am.
Event programmes are now available for £8 from Eakin Bros Claudy and Maydown, Day Today in Donemana, Artigarvan Spar and Dolans Lifford.
The event can be followed on the day via the McGrady Insurance NI Rally Championship Facebook page, live results will be provided by www.rallyscore.net and both a YouTube show and rally report will follow.

McGrady Insurance NI Rally Championship 2024 Calendar remaining rounds
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 – Cookstown Motor Club
November 16 – Reserve date (may be used in the event of a cancelled round)

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Bookmark website – https://www.nirallychampionship.com/

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