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Connor McCloskey's looking to ease away rival Charlie Payne


Connor McCloskey

Connor McCloskey

Connor McCloskey

Connor McCloskey has dominated this year's UK gravel rally championship, scoring two wins and two second places so far.

But the former Northern Ireland champion lost the lead in the series when he missed round five, falling to second place behind English rival Charlie Payne.

McCloskey (below) had good reason to be absent from the Dukeries Rally – the June 8 date had been long set for his wedding.

But he and co-driver Francis Regan are all set to go again tomorrow on round six, the Nicky Grist Stages based at Builth Wells in Wales where a big attraction will be the first official appearance of M-Sport's next generation R5 Ford Fiesta.

It will be in the hands of Matthew Wilson and starts at No.1 ahead of McCloskey's Subaru but will not count in the allocation of championship points.

Meanwhile, James Kennedy in his Ford Escort heads the line-up for the Vanilla Black Summer Stages at Bishopscourt tomorrow with Ian Millar at two in his Subaru and David Armstrong at three in his Escort.

There's a change at No.9 with Matthew McAllister ruled out after breaking his collar bone in a minor motorbike accident and his dad Ivor will take over his Subaru for his first rally in 24 years!

Sunday sees the Irish national championship reach its midway point with the Sligo Rally and series leader Declan Boyle is dashing back from Majorca tomorrow to head the line-up after attending the wedding celebrations of his sister-in-law Danielle to Kris Meeke.

Belfast Telegraph