Belfast Telegraph

McGarrity begins NI title defence

By Sammy Hamill

Derek McGarrity, the reigning champion, will be back in action for the opening round of 2010 Hankook Northern Ireland rally championship at Kirkistown on Saturday.

But there will be no repeat of last year’s season-long battle which saw him edge out Kenny McKinstry to take the title for a second time.

Instead, triple champion McKinstry is heading off to Bournemouth this weekend and the start of the UK national gravel championship, the Rally Sunseeker.

The Banbridge rally team boss is a former Sunseeker winner — indeed a past UK national champion — and is weighing up the possibility of contesting the full series again this year. The Bournemouth line-up also includes Ulster drivers Jonny Greer and John McGaffin.

Meanwhile, at Kirkistown, there is a capacity entry list for the Pedro Pet Foods Rally. McGarrity starts at No.1 in his Subaru S12B.

Stuart Biggerstaff, son of two-time NI champion Denis, again takes over his dad’s S9 Subaru at No.4 having made a stunning start to his rally career by finishing second on the New Year Stages event last month at the same venue. And 2008 NI champion Connor McCloskey is scheduled to make a return at No.8 in a Mitsubishi having missed almost all of last season.

Top of the Kirkistown entry list: 1 Derek McGarrity (Subaru Impreza), 2 Gary White (Subaru Impreza), 3 George Robinson (Subaru Impreza), 4 Stuart Biggerstaff (Subaru Impreza), 5 Dominic McNeill (Ford Escort), 6 Raymond Johnston (Mitsubishi Lancer N), 7 Mark Massey (Mitsubishi Lancer N), 8 Connor McCloskey (Mitsubishi Lancer N), 9 Brendan O’Hagan (Subaru Impreza), 10 Gary McEvoy (Mitsubishi Lancer N).

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