McGarrity can rewrite history books with a seventh NI title
By his usual standards it has been a relatively lean year for Derek McGarrity - but he is still on course to create another rally record.
The Mossley driver is all but sure to be crowned Northern Ireland champion for a fifth year in a row tomorrow and for an unprecedented seventh time in total. He needs just a handful of points from the Castlewellan-based Down Rally (11.30am start) to see off his last remaining challenger, Camillus Bradley.
Indeed, Bradley would have to win the rally outright in his Ford Escort with McGarrity failing to finish inside the top seven places. It is an unlikely scenario with the five-time Circuit of Ireland winner heading the Down line-up in his WRC Ford Fiesta, a car in which he has won three of the previous rounds of the McGrady Insurance series.
The main threat to McGarrity is expected to come from another former Down Rally winner and multi-NI champion, Kenny McKinstry in his S14 Subaru, who is seeded at three behind the R5 Fiesta of Brendan Cumiskey.
Jonny Greer, third in this year's British Championship, makes a rare appearance in his local series at No.4 in his R5 Citroen. Wesley Patterson leads the two-wheel-drive contenders at five in his Ford Escort with Bradley completing the top six.
Meanwhile, another Ulster driver, Desi Henry, is within striking distance of the Irish Forest Championship heading into this weekend's penultimate round at Limerick.
With his third maximum points of the series on the previous round, the Lakeland Stages, Henry has closed up on leaders Gerard Lucey and Michael Carbin going into Sunday's event where his R5 Skoda Fabia is seeded second behind the Fiesta of reigning champion Josh Moffett.
Patrick O'Brien, who led the series early in the season, is seeded three with Carbin and Lucey at four and five respectively, all in Mitsubishis.