Belfast Telegraph

Kenny McKinstry on top after battle with Derek McGarrity

By Sammy Hamill

It is four years since Kenny McKinstry won the last of his four Northern Ireland rally championships but he is back on the top of the table after his victory in the opening round of the 2016 series, the Pacenotes Stages at Kirkistown.

And what a fight he had to see off Derek McGarrity, the driver who has dominated the championship for the intervening four years.

The final positions show that McKinstry in his S14 Subaru won by 13 seconds from McGarrity's WRC Ford Fiesta but the stark statistics don't reflect the battle that raged over six stages around the Co Down circuit on Saturday.

The two multi-champions were locked in an personal duel which saw them separated by little more than a second at any time. McGarrity led narrowly for the first three stages only for McKinstry to edge in front on stage four. But then McGarrity went fastest again on stage five, leaving the two old rivals exactly level at the top of the leaderboard.

But the anticipated last stage shoot-out never materialised, McGarrity's M-Sport Fiesta developing a misfire and it struggled over the finish line a full 13 seconds slower that the Subaru. Round one to McKInstry but such was the pace of the front two, McGarrity still finished runner-up ahead of the Subaru of Peadar Hurson.

Wesley Patterson won the two-wheel-drive division in fourth place in his Ford Escort with Emma McKinstry adding to the family celebrations with fifth in her Subaru.

Meanwhile, Kris Meeke had to settle for the consolation of a point for third fastest time on the final Power Stage of Rally Sweden after another unfortunate incident robbed him of a likely podium position. The Dungannon driver had been in second place and seemingly set to challenge World champion Sebastien Ogier when a rock hidden in the snow sidelined his Citroen on Friday. Ogier went on to win from Hyundai's Hayden Paddon with Mads Ostberg third for Ford.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph