McGarrity beats locals to Down Rally crown

DEREK McGarrity and co-driver James McKee emerged the winners of 2012 Hankook Down Rally, round six of the Carryduff Forklift NI Rally Championship last Saturday.

McGarrity, the current leader of the NI series, nudged past 2011 Down Rally winners Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan on the final 13 mile blast over the famous Hamilton’s Folly, to take victory by just one second. 

McGarrity and Kelly, both driving Subaru Imprezas, had been embroiled in a tit for tat battle for the lead all day and by the halfway point Kelly held the advantage by only 0.7 seconds. Donagh pulled out the stops over the first visit to Hamilton’s Folly to stretch the lead out to 5.5 seconds and another 0.9 seconds were added to the advantage before the pivotal second run over Hamilton’s Folly.  

However McGarrity went into maximum attack over the last 13 miles to go fastest by 7.4 seconds to pip Donagh to the top spot at the finish back in Castlewellan.

At the finish Derek commented, “It was a brilliant rally, I haven’t enjoyed an event as much in a long time and I think I’ve found my form again.”

Two time winner Kenny McKinstry struggled a little getting used to the left hand drive Impreza he used on the day, but still was able to take fastest time on stage two around Closkelt to finish third ahead of the Mini WRC of Derek McGeehan and Damien Connolly.

The first recipient of the Bernie McMullan Perpetual Trophy was Poyntspass driver Chris Simms who posted the fastest class six time on the last Hamilton’s Folly stage.

 FINAL PLACINGS: 1. Derek McGarrity/James McKee -  Subaru Impreza WRC S11 (58:43.3); 2. Donagh Kelly/Kevin Flanagan -  Subaru Impreza WRC S11 (58:44.3); 3. Kenny McKinstry/Sean Mullaly -  Subaru Impreza S11 (59:59.1); 4. Derek McGeehan/Damien Connolly - Mini WRC (1:03:22.9); 5. Vivian Hamill/Paul Sheridan - Ford Escort MkII (1:03:31.6); 6. Ray Brammer/Damien Flemming -  Subaru Impreza WRC S8 (1:04:18.8); 7. John Waring/John McCarthy -  Ford Escort MkII (1:04:23.8); 8. Paul Killen/Enda Kennedy -  Ford Escort MkII (1:04:25.1); 9. Emma McKinstry/Kenny Hull - Subaru Impreza WRC S8 (1:04:40.4); 10. David Armstrong/Mo Downey -  Ford Escort MkII (1:05.5.5)