Belfast Telegraph

It's wet, wet, wet but McGarrity steers clear of trouble to lead rally

 

By Sammy Hamill

Derek McGarrity splashed his way into the lead of the Easter Stages Rally on what he described as the wettest roads he had ever experienced.

The seven-times Northern Ireland champion held a 6.5 second lead in his WRC Subaru Impreza at the end of the first day which saw the weather switch from torrential rain to wind and weak sunshine.

But McGarrity and co-driver Paddy Robinson steered their way safely back to Ballyclare last night ahead of a raging battle for the all-important R5 division which was led by the Skoda Fabia of Marty McCormack.

The former British junior champion had fought off the challenge of the Moffett brothers, Josh and Sam, in their R5 Ford Fiestas to end the day half-a-second in front of Josh.

But with McGarrity's WRC Subaru ineligible for Tarmac championship points and McCormack not registering for the premier Irish series - his eyes are on the British championship - it was the Moffetts who looked best placed to profit.

Josh, the championship leader, held third place overall with Sam, the reigning champion, fourth, 11 seconds further back.

Out of the running, however, was McCormack's fellow Skoda driver Desi Henry who, after a bright start, put his Fabia off the road on the fourth stage.

Robert Barrable held fifth with Daniel Cronin sixth and Jonny Greer seventh, all in R5 Fiestas, ahead of the WRC Mini of Alan Carmichael.

Meanwhile Kris Meeke declared himself happy to be in third place at the end of the first day of the Tour de Corse despite being 38 seconds off the lead held by World champion Sebastien Ogier.

However, it proved a disastrous day for Meeke's Citroen team-mate Sebastien Loeb, the nine-times champion sliding off the road just a few hundred yards into the second stage and his C3 becoming lodged in a ditch.

Ogier dominated the opening leg in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta, stretching out a 33 second lead over the Hyundai of last year's Corsican winner Thierry Neuville who had Meeke just behind.

The Dungannon driver said: "I'm happy with my day, it would be nice to be faster but I have to be content with it."

In the Junior WRC category Callum Devine was in fourth place, 50 seconds off the lead held by Frenchman Terry Folb.

Belfast Telegraph

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