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Jonny Greer takes Carryduff Forklift Down Rally victory

Jonny Greer and Kirsty Riddick won the Carryduff Forklift Down Rally, round four of the McGrady Insurance MSA Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship.

Driving his Citroen DS3 R5, the Carryduff man secured the spoils by 20.1 seconds from Portglenone's Desi Henry, with current NI Championship leader Derek McGarrity in third.

Greer was lying in 10th overall after the short opening test in the Eikon Centre complex but he quickly stamped his authority once the event moved on to the closed roads between Hillsborough and Castlewellan. He moved up to second overall after stage two and then assumed a lead that he was never destined to relinquish after the third test.

"I can't quite believe it to be honest," Greer said at the finish. "With my home motor club involved and with the family business sponsoring the rally, I always thought it would be great to win the rally."

"Last week, we had a problem with the car we were going to use so we had to change to the Citroen," he added.

"At that point, I really didn't think we'd have a chance of winning but when the first few stage times came in, I could see we were quite competitive. It put us in a strong position and when a few others had some problems, we kept our noses clean and everything just worked."

Greer's main opposition came from Scotsman David Bogie and Portglenone's Desi Henry. Bogie and Cushendall based navigator John Rowan had set the pace on the opening stage before dropping to third behind Henry after stage two.

By the time crews arrived at first service, Bogie had regained second overall but his rally was set to go awry after the second loop of stages.

"We caught Jason Pritchard on stage five after he spun," Bogie said. "We had to stop but then we started to lose the power-steering."

Bogie's mechanics descended on the car at second service where it transpired that he could go no further.

"We drained the power-steering fluid and found a load of metal filings," he explained. "We topped it up with new fluid but it was no better - the pump had failed so we retired."

rally4.jpg
Top MSA Asphalt crew Daniel Harper and Chris Campbell (4th overall) in the limelight. Image: Jonathan MacDonald

Meanwhile, Desi Henry and Liam Moynihan set about establishing themselves as the best of the rest. They had briefly led the rally after stage two but pushed a little bit too hard on the first run over Hamilton's Folly, near Castlewellan.

"We went over a jump too fast and the car nose-dived," Henry explained. "The intercooler pipe burst and we lost about 30 seconds."

That placed him on the back foot and although he managed to regain a handful of vital seconds from Greer, it was nowhere near enough to mount a serious challenge. In the end, he had to settle for second overall and a healthy helping of McGrady Insurance NI Championship points.

Derek McGarrity and Paddy Robinson were the best of the rest in third overall. The Glengormley driver took his hired Ford Focus WRC to the final podium position despite some brake troubles and bolstered his position at the top of the NI Championship standings.

"We had a brake issue and there was nothing we could do about it," McGarrity lamented. "I kept losing the pedal on the long stage which just sapped confidence but I'm happy with what we achieved."

Fourth placed Daniel Harper enjoyed what was his first visit to Northern Ireland since he contested the 1995 Ulster Rally. Navigated by Chris Campbell, the Mini WRC mounted crew made the trip from England worthwhile as they also secured maximum points in the Protyre MSA Asphalt Championship.

"It's brilliant!" Harper said. "I didn't really know what to expect but we've had a brilliant weekend. The car has been faultless and we beat some good drivers so I'm very pleased."

Fifth placed Meirion Evans and Jonathan Jackson admitted that they are still bedding themselves in with their new Fiesta R5. The Down Rally marked the Welsh driver's second event with the car so he was over the moon to take fifth overall. His comment that "more speed will come when I get used to the car" should signal a warning to his rivals.

In sixth, Ballymena's Alan Carmichael and Ivor Lamont had a difficult start to the day as they struggled with their suspension setup and tyre choice. However, by the end of the event, they were much happier having had a solid run over the final loop of stages.

Armagh's Damian Toner and Barry McParland managed to secure another two-wheel drive win as well as snatch seventh overall in the process. They reported no issues as they powered to the victory, while Kinallen's Stuart Biggerstaff snatched eighth overall in his Impreza WRC from Welshman Melvyn Evans' grasp on the final stage.

Biggerstaff had a character building start to the day when gearbox issues resulted in his Subaru going straight into a bank. He had been fourth overall after stage one but the stage four incident dropped him down to 11th.

"The car jammed in fourth gear when we were braking for the corner so I couldn't use the gears to slow the car down," Biggerstaff explained. "We locked up, went straight across the road and into a bank."

The former champion recovered well and a final stage push saw him nip one-tenth of a second ahead of Melvyn Evans who had endured some troubles of his own.

"We had a small brake problem so we swapped the pads at first service but a rear disc had been warped," Evans explained. "On stage eight it was very bad so we just wanted to get it back to second service to put new discs on."

Ninth overall was still enough for him to pick up second placed Asphalt Championship points ahead of Wayne Sisson and Max Freeman who finished down in 16th after a troubled day which saw them demolish a fence!

Coming home in 10th, Lisburn's Wesley Patterson and Johnny Baird survived broken suspension and some errant steering to take their Escort MkII into the top 10.

Retirements

There were plenty of dramas and retirements throughout the day as the tricky County Down stages took their toll on competitors. Malcolm Pedlow and Billy Regan went out with gear linkage problems in their BMW 2002tii while Tim and Jack Waters were forced to retire their Renault Clio V6 when they lost the throttle on the third corner of stage two.

Berian Richards retired with a broken half shaft while Brian Watson retired with a broken steering rack. Paul Killen's differential expired, Allan Mackay's Anglia was forced out with a broken stub axle and Colin Price had hub failure.

Next Event

Round five of the McGrady Insurance MSA N.I. Rally Championship takes competitors to County Fermanagh for the Lakeland Stages Rally on 01 September. More details will be announced in the coming weeks on www.nirallychampionship.com and fb.com/nirallying.

Carryduff Forklift Down Rally - Top 10

1 Jonathan Greer/Kirsty Riddick (Citroen DS3 R5) 54m07.9s

2 Desi Henry/Liam Moynihan (Skoda Fabia R5) +20.1s

3 Derek McGarrity/Paddy Robinson (Ford Focus WRC) +1m28.8s

4 Daniel Harper/Chris Campbell (Mini WRC) +2m03.3s

5 Meirion Evans/Jonathan Jackson (Ford Fiesta R5) +2m32.6s

6 Alan Carmichael/Ivor Lamont (Mini WRC) +2m34.8s

7 Damian Toner/Barry McParland (Ford Escort MkII) +2m52.0s

8 Stuart Biggerstaff/Anthony Nestor (Subaru Impreza WRC) +2m54.7s

9 Melvyn Evans/Mark Glennerster (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2m54.8s

10 Wesley Patterson/Johnny Baird (Ford Escort MkII) +3m31.3s

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