Daragh O’Riordan has been a notable absentee from the early events of the 2013 rally season, but now the reasons have become clear.
The young Middleton driver, winner of the Rally of the Lakes and Cork ‘20’ International last season, has been awaiting the arrival of his new car.
O’Riordan is now ready to go though after taking delivery of a current generation Ford Fiesta WRC.
He is scheduled to drive the M-Sport developed ex-World championship car for the first time on this weekend’s West Cork Rally, an event he won last season in his Subaru.
Assuming all goes well, O’Riordan is then expected to turn his attention to the Triton Showers Easter Rally, which this year substitutes for the Circuit of Ireland.
In West Cork he will be up against the reigning Irish national champion Brian O’Mahony who will drive the McKinstry Motorsport team’s latest acquisition, an S14 Subaru.
It had been hastily prepared for Banbridge team boss Kenny McKinstry for the McGrady Insurance Stages at Bishopscourt on Saturday, but the car had to be withdrawn when the exhaust split causing a small fire.
There was no serious damage done and it will be ready to be transported down to Cork.
McKinstry was in the top six at Bishopscourt when he was forced out of the event, the victory going to the Subaru’s former owner Derek McGarrity who finished 16 seconds ahead of the star of the day, Jonny Leonard, in his elderly Evo 6 Mitsubishi.
A former Young Driver of the Year, it was only the 22-year-old from Ballinamallard’s second outing in a four-wheel-drive car, but he lapped up the treacherous conditions to steal past Derek McGeehan’s WRC Toyota Corolla in the closing stages to snatch second place.
Kevin Barrett slipped to fourth in his Subaru S11 ahead of the production-winning Group N Subaru Impreza of James Laverty and the top six was rounded out by the Mitsubishi of Mark Massey.
In the Junior 1000 Challenge series, 15-year-old William Creighton, in his little C1 Citroen, became the third winner in three rounds, finishing 14 seconds ahead of Adam Bustard’s Chevrolet Spark.