Late registration likely to prove costly for Henry in quest for title
Desi Henry had other targets in mind when he failed to register for the Northern Ireland Rally Championship ahead of the Tour of the Sperrins back in May. And that's a pity.
He was focused on the premier Irish Tarmac series and the Sperrins event offered convenient preparation for the Portglenone driver ahead of the Donegal International. But he won it in his R5 Skoda Fabia and the significance only became apparent when his Tarmac challenge fell apart.
Henry did register before the next round of the McGrady Insurance NI series and, after two second place finishes, now finds himself with a slim but mathematical chance of taking the title ahead of this weekend's penultimate round, the Omagh Club's McKelvey Asbestos Bushwhacker Rally.
Derek McGarrity has a 28-point lead as he chases a record eighth title but if Henry had claimed the 12 points for his Sperrins win the championship picture might be very different, especially with dropped scores (best five to count) now coming into play.
As it stands, McGarrity needs just a top four finish in his WRC Ford Focus tomorrow even if Henry - or Alan Carmichael who shares second place - win on a rally which combines the NI and Irish Forestry championships.
It pits Henry, the 2016 Irish champion and winner of the Bushwhacker last year, against recently crowned 2018 champion Josh Moffett in the Tyrone forests and the capacity entry list includes New York-based Barry McKenna and Andrew Purcell, both event winners this season.
Former NI champion Connor McCloskey returns to the Ulster forests in a WRC Subaru and he is joined at the top of the entry list by the likes of Adrian Hetherington (Corolla WRC), Cathan McCourt (Fiesta R5), Vivian Hamill (Fiesta R5), three-time NI champion Kenny McKinstry (WRC Subaru) and Martin Cairns in his Fiesta WRC.
The rally gets under way from the Silverbirch Hotel, Omagh at 9.30am.