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Over 120 crews took the startline at the Eikon Centre for the Down Rally, in a small window of good weather which surrounded the event. Jonny Greer & Kirsty Riddick (Fiesta R5) were defending their 2018 victory and came out the blocks faster than the opposition to take almost 10 seconds out of the next fastest crew Meirion Evans & Jonathan Jackson (Fabia R5), through the opening stage. By the time the crews had got to the first service Greer was first with just 1s chipped off his advantage but stage 4 would see Evans fall away as he dropped 7 minutes with a puncture. Jon Armstrong & Noel O’Sullivan (Mini WRC) had climbed up to 3rd overall after a fastest time on stage 2 but a puncture cost them 50 seconds on stage 4 so the top 3 was shook up. Daniel Harper & Chris Campbell (Mini WRC) were up to 2nd place with Stephen Wright & Liam Moynihan (Fiesta R5) up to 3rd place.

The crews moved on to the iconic Hamilton Folly stages, which would prove pivotal in the rally. 2nd fastest time was enough to see Greer’s lead extended to over half a minute after stage 5 before losing 20s on stage. Wright moved ahead of Harper after the 6th stage as the front end of the rally closed up. Behind Armstrong was on a charge and fastest times through Hamilton’s Folly North and South saw him back up to 4th overall and just 10s off the podium.

Stage 7 saw the end of Greer’s rally as a gearbox issue saw him retire and it was Wright who now lead the rally 5s from Harper. Armstrong made it 4 fastest times in a row to snatch 2nd overall after the 2nd run through the Eikon special stage, as the crews went in to the 2nd and final service. It was game on and with just 3 stages left Armstrong grabbed the lead on stage 9, visibly faster than anyone else. He backed this up with two more fastest stage times to take 8 out of the 11 stages and more importantly victory by over 20s. Wright was 2nd overall with Harper completing the podium just under 7s behind Wright.

Elsewhere in the rally John Stone & Jack Morton (Fiesta WRC) were 9th overall taking the top points place in the Protyre Asphalt Championship. Two places ahead of them were the top 2WD crew Damian Toner & Barry McParland (Escort MkII) after some superb driving, winning the category by 40s from the high flying Camillus Bradley & Crawford Henderson (Escort MkII).

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