Belfast Telegraph

Greer steps up bid to end McGarrity's long championship reign

 

By Sammy Hamill

Derek McGarrity has ruled the Northern Ireland Rally Championship for the past five years, a record run which could come to an end tomorrow.

Champion seven times in total, rally car trader and helicopter pilot McGarrity is under pressure as the series concludes with the McGeehan Motorsport Sunset Rally at Nutts Corner (10am).

It was meant to be in the forests up in the north west of the province but the floods which devastated parts of the region forced a re-think by the organising Magherafelt Club.

Sprint stages round the Nutts Corner karting circuit and across the road at the Superdrive Centre was not what they originally had in mind but they were determined the championship finale would go ahead.

McGarrity, who has driven an R5 Skoda in recent rounds, is expected to revert to one of the cars he likes best, an S14 Subaru WRC, as he bids to thwart a stronger than expected challenge from Jonny Greer, whose chosen target this year was the British Championship.

But as the Carryduff driver in his DGM Citroen DS3 R5 picked up his first NI series win in the opening round and then carried on his good form, Greer suddenly became a contender and now goes into the final round just three points behind McGarrity.

In fact the situation is even closer than it appears on paper for each driver can only count their five best scores from the seven rounds and that tips the balance in Greer's favour. His 44 points come from four finishes including two wins on the Pacenotes and Glens of Antrim rallies.

McGarrity won the McGrady Insurance Stages at Bishopscourt but hasn't topped the podium since and his 47 points have been accrued from five finishes. It means that, even if he wins tomorrow, he can only add five of the 12 points available. Greer can add all 12 if he wins but even a top three finish would ensure he becomes champion for the first time.

They will start at one and two in a line-up which also includes the WRC Minis of Alan Carmichael, third in the standings, and Derek McGeehan as well as the Subaru of former champion Robin Phillips. Dessie McCartney, Seamus Morris, Brian McCloskey, Donall Sweeney, James Kennedy and Kyle White also feature.

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