Belfast Telegraph

Over 100 crews rev up for Tour of Sperrins Rally

Over 100 crews have entered for this Saturday's 'Go' sponsored Tour of the Sperrins Rally, round two of the McGrady Insurance MSA NI Rally Championship.

The Magherafelt & District Motor Club event will feature six closed-road stages in the Cookstown area, with rally headquarters and the event service area all based at Meteor Electrical's premises in Cookstown.

Former Irish Tarmac Champion, Garry Jennings, will lead the 101-strong field across the Meteor Electrical start ramp on Saturday morning. Navigated by Michael Moran, the Impreza WRC mounted crew are one of the firm favourites for victory. However, a few days before the event, their Impreza WRC wasn't quite ready for action and Jennings played down his chances of a win.

"I'm waiting to get an ECU from Prodrive," Jennings revealed.

"It's supposed to be here this week but if it doesn't arrive in time, I should be able to borrow one to get the car going."

He added: "I'm not going out to win the rally. My navigator, Michael Moran, works with me in Go so we're going out for a bit of craic!"

Stiff opposition will come from NI Championship leader, Derek McGarrity, who starts at number two in his Impreza WRC. Having won the opening round of the McGrady Insurance backed series in March, the Glengormley driver is aiming for another strong finish in a bid to bolster his chances of claiming the 2018 NI Championship crown.

Portglenone's Desi Henry is the first of the 'R5' mounted drivers at number three. Having finished third overall at last weekend's Killarney Rally of the Lakes, Henry and navigator Liam Moynihan should be up to speed fairly quickly aboard their Skoda Fabia R5.

At number four, Joe McGonigle and Ciaran Geaney will have their Mini Countryman WRC at their disposal. Their most recent victory was claimed at the 2017 end-of-season Turkey Run Rally and they have just missed out on podium finishes on a handful of events this year, so will be hungry to make up for lost ground.

Dungannon's Paddy McVeigh starts the event at number five in his Impreza WRC, while Ballymena's Alan Carmichael is at number six in his Mini WRC. He also holds second overall in the NI Championship standings, just two points behind McGarrity.

Other notable crews include Connor McCloskey, who holds third overall in the NI title race. Former champion, Stuart Biggerstaff, is at number 12 and a host of high powered two-wheel-drive crews are set to do battle. They include Camillus Bradley, Scottish visitor David Bogie, Ryan Loughran, Wesley Patterson, Kevin Gallagher in a stunning Darrian, and 2016 event winner Marty McCormack.

Crews will leave the Meteor Electrical start ramp on Saturday at 10.30am before tackling a total of six stages (three stages completed twice). Spectators who want to follow the event can purchase event programmes containing the essential rally information from nearby filling stations. Event updates will also be available online on the event's Facebook page.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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