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The battle for the 2021 McGrady Insurance Motorsport UK N.I. Rally Championship crown is going down to the wire this weekend when the contenders lock horns for the final time this Saturday (16 October) at the Go Power Tour of the Sperrins Rally.

The event was originally scheduled to host the penultimate round of the hotly contested series but November’s Tyrone Stages has been cancelled, ensuring that the 2021 champions will be crowned at the finish of the Magherafelt & District Motor Club spectacular.

A total of seven drivers have a chance to secure the Championship spoils but it is the 2017 champions, Jonny Greer and Kirsty Riddick, who are in the strongest position. They lead the series by five points from 2017 champion, Stephen Wright, while 2018 winner Derek McGarrity is 11 points adrift.

Wright has the best chance of snatching success from his rival’s grasp but even if he wins the rally, Greer only needs to finish fifth or higher to secure his second N.I. title. All other crews – including Derek McGarrity, Aaron McLaughlin, Barry Morris, Peadar Hurson and Desi Henry – have a mathematical chance of becoming champions but the odds are not in their favour.

The Event & Top 5 Contenders

The Go-Power Tour of the Sperrins Rally has attracted a full capacity entry of 100 crews who will tackle six closed road stages in the Swatragh and Draperstown areas. Desi Henry and Niall Burns will lead the field away from the start ramp at approximately 10.30am in their Hyundai, followed by a plethora of high-powered machinery.

Henry had hoped to take the fight for the championship title down to the wire but the cancellation of the final round of the series – combined with his opening round retirement – has made it a near-impossible task. Instead, he will be aiming for rally victory at what the Portglenone driver can consider to be his home event.

Hot on his heels into the first stage will be the Citroen C3 belonging to 2017 champions, Jonny Greer and Kirsty Riddick. They don’t need to win the event to become champions for the second time but sometimes it is easier to maintain concentration when going on an attack, rather than opting for a measured approach. What option will Greer choose?

At number three, 2019 champion Stephen Wright and Liam Moynihan must put as much pressure on Greer as possible. Targeting a rally win in their Fiesta R5 is their only option! A victory for Wright would mean that Greer has to finish fifth (or higher) to secure the title. Otherwise, it would be Wright who lifts the spoils.

Derek McGarrity and Paddy Robinson start the event a number four in their Skoda Fabia R5. McGarrity is an eight-time champion and last won the series in 2018. He knows what it takes to win a championship but with 11 points between himself and Greer, the crews in front must falter if he is to have any chance of a ninth title success.

At number five, Aaron McLaughlin and Darren Curran have perhaps been the surprise of this year’s series. A top five finish at round one was followed with second overall at round two. They dropped back after some troubles at round three but another strong result at the Sperrins in their Ford Fiesta WRC will see them end their year on a high.

Entry List (Top 20)

1 Desi Henry/Niall Burns (Hyundai R5)
2 Jonny Greer/Kirsty Riddick (Citroen C3 R5)
3 Stephen Wright/Liam Moynihan (Ford Fiesta R5)
4 Derek McGarrity/Paddy Robinson (Skoda Fabia R5)
5 Aaron McLaughlin/Darren Curran (Ford Fiesta WRC)
6 Garry Jennings/Rory Kennedy (Ford Fiesta R5)
7 Peadar Hurson/Damien Connolly (Ford Fiesta WRC)
8 Phillip Allen/TBC (Ford Fiesta R5)
9 Seamus Leonard/John McCaffrey (Ford Focus WRC)
10 Sean Devine/TBC (Ford Fiesta R5)
11 Joseph McGonigle/Ciaran Geaney (Ford Fiesta Rally2)
12 David Bogie/John Rowan (TBC)
14 Martin McCormack/Barney Mitchell (Ford Escort)
15 Barry Morris/Dylan Doonan (Darrian T90 GTR)
16 Camillus Bradley/Crawford Henderson (Ford Escort)
17 Niall Henry/Damien Duffin (Ford Fiesta)
18 Jason Black/Karl Egan (Toyota Starlet)
19 George Robinson/Adrian Murdoch (Ford Fiesta R5)
20 Ross Brusby/Dave Robson (Ford Escort)

Drivers’ Championship Standings
(After Round 3 of 4)

1 Jonny Greer 86
2 Stephen Wright 81
3 Derek McGarrity 75
4 Aaron McLaughlin 70
5 Barry Morris 68
6 Peadar Hurson 66
7 Desi Henry 59
8 Ian Millar 54
9 John Bradley 52
10 Damian Toner 45

The Go Power Tour of the Sperrins Rally starts at 10.30am on Saturday morning. Results will be available from rallyscore.net and event news will be posted throughout the day at nirallychampionship.com and fb.com/nirallying.

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