DGM Citroen driver overcomes cylin­der is­sues for vic­tory

Motor Sport News - - Rally Report - By Wil­liam Neill Pho­tos: Roy Demp­ster, John Fife

Or­gan­iser: North Ar­magh Mo­tor Club Ltd When: Fe­bru­ary 11 Where: Kirk­istown Race Cir­cuit, County Down Cham­pi­onships: MSA ANICC North­ern Ire­land Rally Cham­pi­onship, ANICC Ju­nior 1000 Rally Chal­lenge Ire­land Starters: 78 Stages: 6

Jonny Greer and Brian Craw­ford were un­de­terred when their Citroen DS 3 R5 lapsed on its cylin­ders over the sec­ond half of SS2 to lead the field through­out and win the Kirk­istown Stages, the open­ing round of the MSA North­ern Ire­land Rally Cham­pi­onship, by 13s.

Head­ing into the se­ries with seven ti­tle wins, Derek Mcgar­rity was 1.1s down on the 4.1-mile SS1. De­spite Greer’s prob­lem, later put down to a mi­nor wire is­sue, the Ford Fi­esta R5 of Mcgar­rity and Robert Travers was 5.1s be­hind af­ter the re­peat. But Mcgar­rity, the New Year Stages winner at the Kirk­istown venue two weeks prior, went quicker on the longer SS3 by 1.2s to leave a 3.9s gap at the mid-event ser­vice.

Over the af­ter­noon, Greer added 3s to the gap on each stage to stamp his author­ity at the top, while Con­nor Mccloskey matched the win­ning SS4 time be­fore he re­tired from third with en­gine fail­ure, me­tres from start of SS5.

Peadar Hur­son and Gary Mcel­hin­ney de­buted a Ford Fi­esta WRC and de­spite a spin on SS2, which dropped the pair from an early third to fifth, snatched the podium place back, 5.3s from Mcgar­rity at the end.

Robin Phillips, the 2000 North­ern Ire­land cham­pion, looked like he had never been away in his Subaru Im­preza S10 WRC. Sparse out­ings since his ti­tle did not af­fect his pace, tak­ing fourth fastest on SS1 and he stayed in the same po­si­tion at the fin­ish, 12.5s from Hur­son and 4.8s up on Kieron Graf­fin’s DS 3 R5.

Graf­fin had a steady start with 12th fastest and was sixth be­fore get­ting ahead of Alan Carmichael on the penul­ti­mate test. Carmichael, again in a Mcgee­han Mo­tor­sport-run Mini John Cooper Works, has made his cham­pi­onship am­bi­tions known and is ex­pected to fea­ture reg­u­larly this sea­son. He fin­ished sixth.

Kenny Mckinstry won the rally last year but with his S14 ver­sion of the Subaru Im­preza at the Cambrian Rally with Tom Cave, the S8 Ban­bridge-based car was in his pos­ses­sion. A mis­fire is­sue, later sorted, meant sev­enth was the re­sult hav­ing fought up from 12th.

Eighth and Group N winner on his rally de­but was Philip Allen, son of the late North­ern Ire­land cham­pion Glenn. The Allen fam­ily were wel­comed to the ser­vice area again with Glenn’s reg­u­lar co-driver, Damien Con­nolly’s brother Martin, along­side in what was a fine ef­fort to win a com­pet­i­tive cat­e­gory by 18s.

First of the Es­corts and first twowheel-drive were Keith White and Paul Mul­hol­land. The later con­di­tions favoured the Crum­lin driver, and he moved from 11th on SS1 and 13th fastest on SS2 to head Dessie Mccart­ney’s Dar­rian T90 GTR by 4.3s, while 6.5s from Allen. Mccart­ney is still im­pres­sive on na­tional ral­lies as a sep­tu­a­ge­nar­ian.

Last year’s Group N cham­pion Clive Kilpatrick was knock­ing on the door of a top 10 fin­ish in 11th and Kyle Orr put a re­tire­ment on the last out­ing be­hind with 12th. Bor­der Rally Cham­pi­onship prepa­ra­tion had Kyle White 13th, ahead of both James Kennedy and Ge­off Mcma­hon.

De­spite get­ting a tyre stuck un­der their Skoda Cit­igo, Sam Adams and An­drew Bushe won the Ju­niors by al­most four min­utes to head Peter Beaton by a 16-point ad­van­tage in the ju­nior cham­pi­onship stand­ings.

Greer topped NI cham­pi­onship opener

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