Victory in Kirkistown puts Kenny McKinstry on a high
Kenny McKinstry made it a winning start to his 2015 campaign with victory in the Winter Stages Rally at Kirkistown, the three-times Northern Ireland champion getting the better of five-times champion Derek McGarrity by seven seconds.
Both are past winners of the non-championship season opener and this time it was McKinstry who came out on top in his S14 Subaru ahead of the WRC Mini of McGarrity, the Banbridge driver setting the fastest time on four of the six stages compared to McGarrity's two.
Spectator favourite on the day, however, proved to be the brand new R5 Citroen DS3 from the workshops of the DGM team, which slotted into third position under the guidance of Jonny Greer.
The second of the new generation R5 class cars to be built by the Carryduff team, it was only completed the day before the rally but ran faultlessly to edge out the S8 Subaru of winner McKinstry's daughter Emma.
Drew Stewart was fifth, winning the two-wheel-drive category in his Ford Escort, with Dominic McNeill rounding out the top six in his Mitsubishi.
Last year's winner, Kieron Graffin, was forced to retire his Mitsubishi after suffering transmission failure.
The event was the first round of the Junior 1000 Challenge and saw Josh McErlean win the battle of the 15-year-olds, finishing a full five seconds in front of Daniel Harper.
Both driving 107 Peugeots, they finished over 20 seconds ahead of the C1 Citroen of 14-year-old Peter Bennett.
It was McErlean's second win in a row, the Kirea teenager having won the final round of the 2014 series, which took place just after Christmas.