Belfast Telegraph

Champions in hot pursuit of Kieron Graffin at Kirkistown

By Sammy Hamill

Kieron Graffin, who won last year, heads up the starting list for tomorrow's first rally of the season, the New Year Stages at Kirkistown.

But he will have a pair of multi Northern Ireland champions lining up right behind his Mitsubishi at the Co Down circuit.

Derek McGarrity, now the record-holder with five NI titles, will be starting at No.2 in his WRC Mini and Kenny McKinstry, a three-times champion, is listed at three in his S14 Subaru.

He has been included in a 500 Club event which is traditionally seen as a prelude to the start of the championship season at the same venue next month.

It is also an event which often sees the appearance of cars new for 2015 and catching the eye will be an R5 Citroen DS3 from the DGM team at Carryduff, driven by Jonny Greer.

Others in the 45-strong list include McKinstry's daughter Emma in an S10 Subaru, Dominic McNeill (Mitsubishi), Keith White (Escort) and veteran Dessie McCartney in his Darrian.

While the main event is a non-championship affair, the rally will play host to the opening round of the 2015 McGrady Insurance Junior 1000 Challenge, featuring some of the most talented under-17 drivers across the country.

Among them will be Josh McErlean in his little Peugeot 107, the winner at Shackleton a couple of weeks ago, and 15-year-old kart champion Daniel Harper, also in a 107.

There are six stages, all within the confines of the Kirkistown circuit, with the kick-off scheduled for 9.30am.

Belfast Telegraph

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