Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Race’s green light despite low turnout

Top dog: Derek McGarrity will be one of the favourites

Troubled times for the Northern Ireland rally championship.

While the organisers of today's fifth round, the Modern Tyre Service Mourne Rally, have stuck to their guns and will run the event despite a disappointingly low entry, the championship has seen a sharp decline this year.

The Dogleap Rally, one of the most popular forest rounds, has withdrawn from the series and will be staged instead as a single-venue event at the former Shackleton army base, Ballykelly, in August.

The Rally of the Glens has also gone this year, leaving just the Lakeland and Bushwhacker rallies in September as the only gravel rounds of the championship.

Tomorrow’s Newry-based Mourne event centres on the tarmaced scenic drives of the Slieve Gullion and Cam forests close to the border.

The limited line-up is headed by former champion and current series leader Derek McGarrity.

He is listed to drive his Prodrive Mini WRC but is more likely than not to appear in a Hyundai Accent now that its power steering system has been rebuilt.

However, Derek McGeehan plans to run his WRC Mini which featured in last weekend’s Bavaria City Racing spectacular in Dublin city centre.

Trevor Ferguson, the production championship leader, Fintan McGrady, David Armstrong and Drew Stewart, who leads the two-wheel-drive category, are also in the starting list which heads out of Newry from 8.30am.