Five-star McKinstry has to rally after rare mistake
Kenny McKinstry made it a perfect five out of five in this year's Hankook Northern Ireland rally championship with victory on the Mourne Stages.
BUT winning his home round of the series proved harder than expected even if the time cards show that he was 54 seconds ahead of George Robinson at the finish of the Modern Tyre Service-sponsored event.
An uncharacteristic error by the former three-times champion saw him drop to fourth place after he spun and stalled his Subaru at Camlough.
It wasn't until stage six that McKinstry clawed his way in front of 1995 champion Robinson and although he gradually eased away through the second half, it was only after Robinson's Subaru suffered clutch trouble that the gap opened significantly.
Third place went to the Ford Escort of Drew Stewart, winner of the two-wheel-drive category, with Neil McCance taking the production honours in fourth.
McCance had been solidly in third place until his Mitsubishi clipped a rock and sustained a puncture on stage nine, Slieve Gullion, dropping him back to fifth.
The same rock inflicted similar damage on the Subaru of Stuart Biggerstaff and he slipped to sixth, but while McCance regained one place, Biggerstaff was unable to make up the lost ground.
McKinstry has won all five rounds, stretching his lead over second placed Robinson to 19 points.
Results: 1 Kenny McKinstry/Harvey Bell (Subaru Impreza) 43 mins 20 secs; 2 George Robinson/Tommy Speers (Subaru Impreza) + 54 secs; 3 Drew Stewart/Steven Park (Ford Escort) + 1 min 14 secs; 4 Neil McCance/Anthony McConaill (Mitsubishi Lancer) + 1 min 20 secs; 5 Michael Conlon/Aidan Boyle (Ford Escort) + 1 min 25 secs; 6 Stuart Biggerstaff/Karl Atkinson (Subaru Impreza) + 1 min 37 secs; 7 Damien Toner/Paddy McCague (Ford Escort) + 2 min 13 secs; 8 David Armstrong/Mark Tierney (Ford Escort) + 2 mins 20 secs; 9 Fintan McGrady/Mark Hanna (Ford Escort) + 2 mins 34 secs; 10 Alistair Cochrane/Gary McElhinney (Ford Escort) + 2 mins 42 secs.