Belfast Telegraph

Ulster duo Henry and Greer close the curtain on their British title challenges

 

By Sammy Hamill

Desi Henry is one of several front-running drivers who have abandoned their British Rally Championship ambitions and will skip this weekend's fifth round, the Nicky Grist Stages in Wales.

The experiment of taking the BRC series to Belgium for the Ypres Rally was popular but has proved costly in terms of repair bills and points, resulting in the likes of Scot David Bogie, Welshman Tom Cave and Henry's fellow Ulsterman Jonny Greer pulling out of plans to go to Wales.

But while Marty McCormack is carrying on determinedly by hiring a Ford Fiesta to replace his damaged Skoda Fabia, Henry, who crashed close to the end of the Ypres Rally while second highest BRC contender, has decided his British title challenge is over and has opted out even though he finished on the podium in 2016.

"It was one of my best results last season and although the damage to my Skoda was mainly cosmetic, winning the Championship is now unrealistic," said the Portglenone building contractor.

"Besides, with the two rallies just two weeks apart it is very time consuming. We were in Belgium for a week and it would have been another four or five days in Wales, all within a fortnight and not really practical when you have a job to do."

Instead, Henry, whose sister Anna is the new Miss Northern Ireland, has set his sights on trying to win next month's Ulster Rally and will take in Sunday's round of the Triton Showers Irish National Championship, the Sligo Rally, as preparation.

He had also planned to go to the Tipperary Stonethrowers Rally but that has been cancelled due to low entry numbers.

Greer, who retired in Ypres when the clutch of his Citroen DS3 seized, has opted to skip the Welsh trip and will follow the same route as Henry by heading to Sligo where the entry list is headed by Sam Moffett, winner of all five rounds of the national series so far.

Moffett, who also leads the premier tarmac series, can clinch the national title on Sunday if he wins for a record sixth time in a row in his WRC Ford Fiesta.

McCormack, meanwhile, is refusing to call time on his British title challenge despite his "worse crash ever" on the second stage in Belgium. With his Skoda needing an extensive re-build, the Draperstown driver has hired the Dom Buckley Motorsport R5 Fiesta which is usually driven by Alastair Fisher in the Irish Tarmac Championship.

The former British junior champion has slipped to sixth in the BRC table, 36 points behind new leader Osian Pryce, but is determined to keep going.

"With the Ulster Rally coming up next I want to be still in the mix for the title so we've decided we have to go to Wales," he said.

Keith Cronin, who took maximum points in Belgium, is up to third in the standings and leads the Irish challenge in his M-Sport Fiesta this weekend. Pryce, the new leader of the series, heads the entry list ahead of Sweden's Fredrik Ahlin.

Meanwhile, Damien Toner, who won last year, heads the entry for tomorrow's Rainbow Communications Rally at Loughgall Country Park.

He starts at No.1 in his Ford Escort ahead of the WRC Mini of Derek McGeehan with another Toner, Martin, at three in his Sunbeam.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph