Belfast Telegraph

McCloskey joins the list of big names in car switches for 2017

By Sammy Hamill

It is the traditional Northern Ireland rally season opener and, as always, the New Year Stages at Kirkistown will see familiar faces in unfamiliar cars.

Like former Northern Ireland champion Connor McCloskey in a WRC Ford Fiesta and Robert Woodside in an R5 Citroen DS3.

Derek McGarrity, a multi winner of the race track based rally, is listed to drive his 2016 title winning WRC Fiesta but it has been sold to a new owner and he will switch to an R5 version.

The Kirkistown circuit is also the venue for the opening round of the Northern Ireland Championship next month and the New Year Rally is again being used by many drivers, like seven times champion McGarrity, as a warm-up for the series.

But McCloskey is planning to return to the cross-channel BTRDA championship this year and will take in Saturday's event as a first outing in an ex-Ott Tanak WRC Fiesta before heading off to the Cambrian Rally in north Wales next week.

Woodside, most recently seen in a mighty Tuthill Porsche and an R5 Fiesta, will have his first outing in a Citroen R5 run by the DGM team from Carryduff.

Kenny McKinstry, another ex-NI champion, will also be there in his S14 Subaru for the short, sharp Ulster Automobile Club event which will run over six stages starting at 9.30am.

Meanwhile, Robert Barrable has joined the line-up for the Galway International where he will drive an R5 Fiesta.

He switched to racing last season, winning the GT4 series in the British GT Championship, but still hasn't shaken off the rally bug which saw him engage Craig Breen in a fierce battle for the 2015 Circuit of Ireland victory.

He will join an R5 line-up which includes Alastair Fisher, the Moffett brothers, Sam and Josh, Joe McGonigle, Jonny Greer, Stephen McCann and Brendan Cumiskey who is a late entry for Kirkistown in a Citroen DS3 rather than his usual Ford Fiesta.

Belfast Telegraph

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