Belfast Telegraph

New Year Stages: Dad Denis steps up to keep Biggerstaff name in frame

By Sammy Hamill

Former Northern Ireland champion Denis Biggerstaff will stand in for his son Stuart, the current champion, in tomorrow’s traditional season-opening rally, the New Year Stages, at Kirkistown.

Stuart was scheduled to drive the family’s S9 Subaru Impreza in the 500 Club event at the Co Down race circuit but a traumatic pre-Christmas period in which the 22-year-old’s appendix burst and he suffered a serious infection has left him sidelined for the time being.

Dad Denis, a past winner of the event and the NI champion in 1999 and 2001, will take the opportunity of his son’s enforced absence to don his helmet again and is seeded at three in a start list which is headed by Derek McGarrity, last year’s winner

McGarrity is listed to drive an Evo 10 production Mitsubishi for the first time but with another ex-NI champion, Kenny McKinstry, in the line-up in a WRC Subaru, the four-time Circuit of Ireland winner was still debating whether to switch instead to his S11 Subaru.

Subarus dominate the top of the 60-plus entry list with George Robinson, Gary White, John McGaffin, Alan Carmichael, the 2009 winner, and Emma McKinstry also in WRC Imprezas.

Among the leading production contenders are Mark Donnelly (Mitsubishi), runner-up to Biggerstaff in the NI series last year, Mark Massey (Subaru) and Kieron Graffin (Mitsubishi).

The six-stage event, based within the confines of the race circuit, is scheduled to start at 9.30am.

Top of the entry list: 1 Derek McGarrity (Mitsubishi Lancer), 2 Kenny McKinstry (Subaru Impreza), 3 Denis Biggerstaff (Subaru Impreza), 4 George Robinson (Subaru Impreza), 5 Dominic McNeill (Ford Escort), 6 Mark Massey (Subaru Impreza), 7 Gary White (Subaru Impreza), 8 Mark Donnelly (Mitsubishi Lancer), 9 John McGaffin (Subaru Impreza), 10 Alan Carmichael (Subaru Impreza).

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