McGarrity goes for power in bid to land eighth NI rally crown
He may have chalked up his first victory this season in an R5 Ford Fiesta but it was always Derek McGarrity's plan to step up to a more powerful WRC car as he pursues an astonishing eighth Northern Ireland rally title.
On Saturday McGarrity heads the entry list for the McGrady Insurance Bishopscourt Stages Rally in a WRC Fiesta, a similar car to the one in which he won his seventh title in 2016.
He won the non-championship New Year Stages in the R5 Fiesta but lost out to Jonny Greer's R5 Citroen in the opening round of the NI series at Kirkistown last month.
"Don't get me wrong, the R5 Fiesta is a great wee car but I miss the power of a WRC car and I'm happy to be back in one again," said the Mossley man.
"I'll probably need it too - there are quite a few other WRC cars entered on Saturday."
One of those, another WRC Fiesta, will be in the hands of Peadar Hurson who is using the Bishopscourt event as part of his build-up to an Irish national championship campaign, starting with the Midland Rally later in the month.
A former national champion, Hurson was third behind Greer and McGarrity on his debut in the car at Kirkistown.
The McGeehan Motorsport team field two WRC Minis for Alan Carmichael and Derek McGeehan himself and they are followed by a quartet of Mitsubishis, one of which will see a rare appearance these days by former UK Mitsubishi Challenge champion Phillip Morrow.
In a Mitsubishi, too, is Philip Allen - son of the late NI champion Glen Allen - who made a remarkable debut with eighth in round one at Kirkistown.
Stuart Biggerstaff, another ex-champion, is also in the starting list as is Stephen Whitford whose primary role is in Kris Meeke's support crew in the World championship.
The first car is due off the start ramp at 9.30am to begin the six stage event.