McGarrity faces race against the clock to get a car
The clock is ticking down to the Orchard Motorsport Lurgan Park Rally on Saturday and it is ticking down, too, for Derek McGarrity.
The five-time Circuit of Ireland winner is in the line-up announced at last night's rally launch in Craigavon civic centre but, for the moment, the WRC Ford Focus he plans to drive has no engine.
It was damaged on the final stage of the Donegal International, robbing McGarrity of second place and is currently being re-built in England. The engine, all being well, will arrive back at his Mossley base tomorrow and then needs to be installed and tested, a process he expects to take two days.
Any hitches and his bid for a first Lurgan Park win may have to go on hold for another year.
But for now McGarrity is listed in a line-up which is headed by 11 times winner Kenny McKinstry and includes record-equalling Irish Tarmac champion Eugene Donnelly and the current leader of the premier series, Garry Jennings.
Not for the first time McKinstry will find himself racing against one of his own cars with Donnelly taking over the Banbridge team's S14 Subaru which has had a string of successes this season including the Donegal International in the hands of Sam Moffett.
However, it would almost certainly have been a second win of the season for Jennings but for a three-minute penalty which dropped him to third.
He has shrugged that off and is looking forward to the relaxed atmosphere of one of his favourite events.
"Lurgan Park is a rally I always enjoy. It is very competitive as well as being a great day out for families and kids," said Jennings.
"I would love to win it, but at the same time I`ll have to take care of the car, because the Ulster Rally is coming up."
Emphasising the family theme, the invited entry list includes two notable father and son combinations. Former NI champion Denis Biggerstaff is out in his Subaru while son Stuart, who emulated his father and became the youngest NI champion in 2010, drives the family Metro 6R4. Similarly young Marc Johnston from Ballinamallard will compete in a Mitsubishi Lancer while his father Raymond is in an Ford Escort in the historic section.
The spectator-friendly, eight-stage event is contained with the park and starts at 10.15am.
Lurgan Park top 10: 1 Kenny McKinstry (Subaru Impreza), 2 Eugene Donnelly (Subaru Impreza), 3 Garry Jennings (Subaru Impreza), 4 Derek McGarrity (Ford Focus), 5 Derek McGeehan (Mini WRC), 6 Alan Carmichael (Mini WRC), 7 Stuart Biggerstaff (Metro 6R4), 8 James Gillen (Subaru Impreza), 9 Denis Biggerstaff (Subaru Impreza), 10 Ray Brammer (Subaru Impreza).