Derek McGarrity said he wouldn’t care if he never won another rally if he could win the Circuit of Ireland for a fourth time.
But having achieved that aim at Easter, he has gone on to win the Circuit of Kerry and is odds-on favourite to win the TRN Alusystems Tour of the Sperrins tomorrow.
It is round four of the Hankook Northern Ireland championship and although McGarrity says he has no concrete plans to defend the title he won last year, he is the joint leader of the series after winning the first two rounds.
With that much-coveted fourth Circuit win out of the way, McGarrity is focusing on the Dunlop Irish national in which he holds joint second place and is using the Sperrins event — which he won last year — to maintain his tarmac speed ahead of the next round in Cavan at the end of the month.
The former Irish Tarmac champion is seeded No.1 in his S12B Subaru for the Magherafelt Club’s round of the NI series and his main opposition should come from last year’s production champion Donagh Kelly — if he can finally get a trouble-free run in his ex-Kevin Lynch Ford Focus. In his two previous appearances in the car it has suffered engine problems but with the power unit now re-built, Kelly is hoping he will get the chance to show its capabilities.
Declan McNaughton, a close second behind McGarrity last year, is seeded at three with Camillus Bradley at four, both in Ford Escorts, while Raymond Johnston is the top production seed at five in his Mitsubishi. George Robinson completes the top six in his Subaru with Stuart Biggerstaff, who shares the championship lead, seeded just outside the top 10 in his S9 Subaru.
Based at Walsh's Hotel, Maghera, this year's event returns to its closed road format. Starting at 10am, crews will tackle three stages before returning to the town for service shortly after 1pm.
They face a further three stages before returning to the Maghera finish ramp at 5.25pm.