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McGarrity heads strong field for finale

By Sammy Hamill

Derek McGarrity started this year’s Northern Ireland Rally Championship driving one of the latest S14 Subarus and on Saturday he plans to finish the series in another of the final group of Imprezas built by the Prodrive organisation.

In between he has driven a variety of cars, from a spanking new WRC Mini to a decade-old Subaru, but remains top of the championship standings going into the Bushwhacker Rally.

Indeed, with a 10-point lead, he needs to do little more than finish the Omagh-based event to see off the challenge of Derek McGeehan and become NI champion for a third time.

But Mossley rally car trader McGarrity loves springing surprises and he has pulled off another one with a last minute deal to bring in an S14 Subaru from the continent for Saturday’s final round.

He will head up a 90-strong starting list which not only includes McGeehan in his WRC Mini but sees the return of reigning champion Kenny McKinstry, who opted not to defend his title.

They will go head to head with the leading contenders in the Irish Forest Championship which comes north for the first time this season.

It throws up the prospect of McGarrity, McGeehan and McKinstry locking horns with the leading drivers in the southern series including Donegal International winner Garry Jennings.

From Kesh in Co Fermanagh, Jennings will be close to home territory in the Tyrone forests as he attempts to regain the lead in the Irish championship from Stephen Wright who is just one point ahead.

Jennings re-acquainted himself with the Ulster forests on his home Lakeland Rally a fortnight ago and was ahead of all the main NI championship contenders going into the final stage only to put his Subaru off the road.

The strong entry in the production category includes the Moffett brothers, Sam and Josh, along with Mark Donnelly and Colin Britton as well as Trevor Ferguson who has already wrapped up the NI Group N title.

The rally is based at the Silverbirch Hotel and starts at 10am. The service area is at Omagh Mart on Drumquin Road.

Top of the entry list: 1 Derek McGarrity (Subaru Impreza); 2 Kenny McKinstry (Subaru Impreza); 3 Garry Jennings (Subaru Impreza); 4 Vincent McAree (Mitsubishi Evo); 5 Colin Britton (Mitsubishi Evo); 6 Mark Donnelly (Mitsubishi Evo); 7 Steven Wright (Mitsubishi Evo); 8 Martin Cairns (Subaru Impreza); 9 James Gillen (Subaru Impreza); 10 Derek McGeehan (Mini WRC).

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