Belfast Telegraph

Crews set to see out the old year in a flurry of speed

By Sammy Hamill

They are final events of the 2018 rally season and crews are queuing up to see out the year in a post-Christmas blow out.

The popularity of the Ulster Automobile Club's Targa-style (It's Not The) Boxing Day Rally - it takes place tomorrow - saw the 90 places filled within hours of the entry list opening and the Maiden City Club's Turkey Run on Saturday will have a capacity 85 starters.

The Turkey Run is the last special stage rally of the year and uses the access roads of the former Shackleton military base at Ballykelly. It has attracted a strong entry headed by last year's winner Joe McGonigle in a McGeehan Motorsport WRC Mini.

The Muff man finished third in the Irish National Championship this year but with a rule change limiting the turbo restrictors used on WRC cars next year McGonigle will use Saturday's event to see how it effects the Mini.

He faces a number of other drivers in WRC cars including Alan McGeehan, Alan Carmichael and Dominic McNeill but the biggest threat may come from a powerful group of R5 drivers headed by top Tarmac championship contender Desi Henry in his Skoda Fabia.

Scheduled to make an appearance too is former British Junior champion Callum Devine in his R5 Ford Fiesta along with Philip Allen, son of former NI champion Glenn, and Beragh girl Amy Cox is back to drive Marty McCormack's S2000 Skoda.

McCormack himself is in action, one of a big contingent of Ford Escort drivers.

There is a 9-45am start with five stages to be tackled.

The UAC's day after Boxing Day Rally is a very different event but the increasing growth in Targa-type rallying, in which competitors use (essentially) road cars, has meant it was difficult to even get a starting spot after the organisers were forced to reduce the number from 140 to 90.

Based at the Edenmore Country Club, Magheralin, with a 9am start, the crews face a lengthy series of short speed, navigation and driving tests on private land.

The drivers range from past winner Will Corry to Targa regulars like Chris Henry, Mark King and Bryan Mutch in their Mazda MX5s to family groups such as the Woodsides, the Fergusons and the Briens, as well as rising special stage star William Creighton.

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