Derek McGarrity enjoys early luck to ease to victory
Derek McGarrity's made it three wins in a row at Bishopscourt with another clear-cut victory in the McGrady Insurance Stages, the opening round of the Northern Ireland championship.
And again the four-time champion showed his adaptability, winning first time out in an ex-Dani Sordo WRC Mini, one of the trio of the Prodrive-built cars he recently acquired from the Motorsport Italia team. He also won in a Mini in 2012 and in a borrowed Subaru last year.
This time he finished 25 seconds ahead of the S14 Subaru of Kevin Barrett with another Impreza, the S9 of Desi Henry, a further 43 seconds back in third.
McGarrity had an early fright when the Mini overheated and switched to 'safe mode' on the start line. He eventually struggled round to finish the first stage 18 seconds off the pace.
But a timing glitch affecting a number of drivers forced the organisers to scrub the stage and McGarrity went on to record fastest times on 12 of the remaining 13 stages.
Behind the Subarus, two more Minis took fourth and fifth places, Derek McGeehan beating stable companion Alan Carmichael, who held off a late charge by Emma McKinstry, deputising for her dad Kenny in the family S14 Subaru.
Martin Cairns (Subaru), George Robinson (Mitsubishi), Alistair Cochrane, the two-wheel-drive winner in his Ford Escort, and Ray Brammer (Subaru) completed the top 10.
McGarrity's 15-year-old son Michael just failed to repeat his dad's success in the Irish Junior 1000 Challenge, finishing second in his Citroen C1 behind winner and championship leader William Creighton. Philip White was third.
Meanwhile Donagh Kelly won the two-day West Cork Rally in his Ford Focus, finishing over half-a-minute ahead of the Subaru of winner Denis Cronin.