Greer sets up final round shoot-out with champion McGarrity
The Northern Ireland Rally Championship will go down to the wire with a straight shoot-out between Derek McGarrity and Jonny Greer on the final round which is scheduled for November 4.
Greer’s second place behind Desi Henry on Saturday’s Bushwhacker Rally saw the Carryduff driver close to within three points of seven-times champion McGarrity with just the Tour of the Sperrins remaining.
But each driver can only count their five best scores from the seven rounds, meaning champion McGarrity can increase his current total of 47 by just five points even if he wins the last event whereas Greer, on 44 from four finishes, can add anything up to a maximum of 12 points. It promises to be a nail-biting finish, the closest in a decade.
The Omagh-based Bushwhacker was dominated by Henry in his R5 Skoda Fabia, the Portglenone driver, partnered by Liam Moynihan, setting fastest times on five of the six stages in the Tyrone forests to win by 27 seconds from the R5 Citroen DS3 of Greer and his Scottish co-driver Kirsty Riddick.
Another Scot, Jock Armstrong, was a further four seconds back in third in his Subaru with Paul Barrett taking fourth in a hired Mitsubishi and pushing McGarrity, driving an R5 Skoda for only the second time, down to fifth.
Where the final round of the McGrady Insurance series will take place has yet to be decided, the torrential rain which hit the north west of the province a month ago causing serious damage to the gravel roads of the forests the Magherafelt club planned to use. They are seeking an alternative venue which most likely will be a race circuit.
The McKelvey Asbestos-sponsored Bushwhacker event doubled as the final round of the Irish Forestry Championship and a safe sixth place ensured Sam Moffett is the new champion.
He takes over the title from Henry whose main focus this year was the British Championship but on his two appearances in the McGrady Insurance NI series he has been successful in both, adding the Bushwhacker to the Tyrone Stages he won earlier in the year.
Moffett, needing to do little more than finish yesterday in his WRC Ford Fiesta, kept out of trouble to take the Valvoline Irish forest title and complete the second leg of a unique treble. The Clontibret driver has already won the Irish National series and only needs to cross the starting ramp of the Cork ‘20’ next weekend to take the international Tarmac Championship as well.
Comber’s David Crossan made it six wins out of six to seal the two-wheel-drive championship in his Ford Escort, finishing 16th overall.
Meanwhile, Wayne Boyd’s frustrating season in the European Le Mans prototype series continues. The Templepatrick driver had to settle for fifth in the penultimate round at Spa in Belgium despite qualifying his United Autosports LMP3 Ligier-Nissan second fastest and leading in the early stages of the four-hour race.
He lost the lead when his car was hit from behind but still pitted in second place at the end of his opening stint. Team-mates Mark Patterson and Christian England were unable to maintain the pace, slipping down the order, and Boyd could only make up three places in his second stint, climbing from eighth to fifth in the final hour.