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Derek McGarrity can lay down marker ahead of Northern Ireland bid


Five-time champion Derek McGarrity

Five-time champion Derek McGarrity

Mark Pearce / Presseye.com

Five-time champion Derek McGarrity

Record six-time Northern Ireland champion Derek McGarrity will head the line-up for Saturday's New Year Stages Rally at Kirkistown, a first run out for his new WRC Ford Fiesta ahead of the Galway International at the start of next month.

McGarrity says he intends to enter Galway in the Fiesta but has no plans to contest the full Irish Tarmac championship, which he has won twice in the past. However, he will again target a seventh success in the NI series which starts with the North Armagh Club's Pacenotes Kirkistown Stages on February 13.

Saturday's event, which incorporates six stages within the confines of the Kirkistown complex, will also include another multiple NI champion, Kenny McKinstry, who got his season off to a flying start with victory in the Icebreaker Rally 10 days ago.

McKinstry will again be out in his S14 Subaru.

Entered, too, is Stephen Wright in his R5 Fiesta, another driver using the event as a warm-up ahead of Galway and the start of the Tarmac championship, which this year focuses on the newer category of R5/S2000 cars. Entries close tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the 500 Motor Racing Club of Ireland, organisers of Saturday's event, are introducing a new season ticket scheme. Costing £70, it covers all of the car race meetings at the circuit as well as the New Year Stages plus the bonus of a discount card with a number of attractive offers.

Belfast Telegraph