McGarrity to show off new Mini
The first of a trio of rally Minis bought by Derek McGarrity from the Motorsport Italia team will break cover for the first time in the opening round of the Northern Ireland championships at Bishopscourt on Saturday.
McGarrity had hoped to make his debut in one of the Italian cars on last month's Galway International but the cars arrived too late after the transporter was delayed en route from Milan.
Instead McGarrity, the first four-time NI champion, will roll out the Mini driven by Michael Kosciuszko in the WRC last year to begin the defence of his title in the McGrady Insurance Stages at the Co Down race circuit. He heads a line-up which includes another pair of the Prodrive-built Minis driven by Derek McGeehan and Alan Carmichael.
Also on the starting grid is three-time champion Kenny McKinstry in his S14 Subaru and daughter Emma in an S8 Impreza as well as Desi Henry who switches back to his Subaru after his first outright victory on the Sean Conlon Memorial Rally in a Mitsubishi. Former Irish national champion Peadar Hurson makes a rare NI championship appearance in his WRC Ford Escort.
The 14-stage event is also round two of the Junior 1000 Irish Challenge in which youngsters William Creighton and Michael McGarrity top the points table. Making her debut in a Nissan Micra will be 15-year-old Alex Harper.
Top of the entry list: 1 Derek McGarrity (Mini WRC); 2 Derek McGeehan (Mini WRC); 3 Kenny McKinstry (Subaru Impreza); 4 Alan Carmichael (Mini WRC); 5 Desi Henry (Subaru Impreza); 6 Ray Brammer (Subaru Impreza); 7 Martin Cairns (Subaru Impreza); 8 Kieron Graffin (Mitsubishi Lancer); 9 Peadar Hurson (Ford Escort WRC); 10 Niall Henry (Mitsubishi Lancer).