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Motorsport bursts back into action at Kirkistown Race Circuit this Saturday 19 February for round one of the McGrady Insurance Northern Ireland Rally Championship, the Orchard Motorsport Kirkistown Stages Rally.

Organised by North Armagh Motor Club Ltd, Stephen Wright and Ger Conway head a high-quality entry list for the six-stage event, which is open for spectators to attend, but two-times event winner Wright will have his work cut out as he bids to take his third consecutive victory at Kirkistown.

A host of former champions and event winners will be eyeing up the crown, including reigning champion, Jonny Greer, in his Citroen C3. Navigated on this occasion by Darragh Mullen, it was Greer who claimed his second N.I. Championship title last year. The Carryduff driver is back to defend his crown at what will be the first of five championship rounds that will take place between February and July.

Also in a Citroen C3 will be Darren Gass and James McCarville. Markethill’s Gass has enjoyed some sporadic outings in recent years and finished runner-up at Kirkistown in 2019.

Derek McGarrity is an eight-time N.I. champion, with successes that span a 20-year period after his maiden crown was secured in 2002. He and Graham Henderson will be in the Orchard Motorsport mix with their Skoda Fabia while Aaron McLaughlin and Kenny McKinstry have a pair of Fiesta WRCs at their disposal.

Others to keep an eye on include Philip Allen (Fiesta R5), Scottish visitor Nigel Feeney (Fiesta WRC), plus another quartet of Fiesta R5 crews that include Emma McKinstry, Joe McGonigle, Mark Massey and Kieron Graffin.

The two-wheel-drive category adds to the wonderful array of machinery with James Kennedy (Escort MkII), Jamie Grant (Starlet), Niall Carey (BMW) and Championship sponsor, Fintan McGrady, in a brand new historic specification Escort.

McGrady Insurance’s sponsorship of this year’s series marks the Downpatrick based firm’s 30th year of support for motorsport in Northern Ireland.

McGrady Insurance Director, Fintan McGrady, said:

“The motorsport community in Northern Ireland is a tight-knit and loyal band of enthusiasts which I have had the pleasure of being supported by in both sport and business. I am delighted to support the N.I. Rally Championship as a way of giving back to the community that has made such an important contribution to McGrady Insurance over the years.”

McGrady Insurance’s sponsorship will cover the five main championship events as well as the three-event Forest Challenge that runs separately from the Northern Ireland series.

Timetable

The rally starts at 9.15am with all six stages held within Kirkistown Race Circuit. Admission to the event is £10 per person. Event sponsor, Orchard Motorsport, will be on-site with a display of scale models and clothing.

For more information, including regular updates as Saturday’s rally progresses, visit nirallychampionship.com or follow on Facebook at fb.com/nirallying. Live results will be available from rallyscore.net.

Image courtesy of Bill Swann

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