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Round two of the McGrady Insurance Northern Ireland Rally Championship kicks into action this Saturday (12 March) with the Race & Rally Stages at County Down’s Bishopscourt Race Circuit.

Based a few miles outside Downpatrick, the Ballynahinch and District Motor Club event has attracted almost 90 crews to the popular venue with reigning champion, Jonny Greer, topping the entry list in his Citroen C3 Rally2.

Navigated by Darragh Mullen, Greer is targeting a third N.I. title this year. He got his 2022 campaign off to the best possible start with victory at last month’s opening round and leads the series by two points as he bids to secure a second consecutive Bishopscourt win.

Derek McGarrity and Graham Henderson will be hot on Greer’s tyre tracks in their Skoda Fabia R5. With a record eight N.I. titles and around 15 Bishopscourt Rally wins, McGarrity’s past results speak for themselves. The venue is one of the Glengormley driver’s favourite hunting grounds and he will be among the main contenders on Saturday.

Stephen Wright and Ger Conway are seeded at number three in their Fiesta. Wright is another former champion and holds third in the series standings, just one point behind McGarrity. He had a strong start at the opening round that saw him finish a couple of seconds clear of former Irish Tarmac Champion, Darren Gass, who is seeded at number four with Sam Hutchinson in a Citroen C3 Rally2.

The father and daughter crew of Kieron and Amy Graffin complete the top five seeds ahead of Aaron McLaughlin/Darren Curran (Fiesta WRC) and Mark Massey/Alistair Wyllie (Fiesta). Joe McGonigle and Ciaran Geaney (Fiesta) are at number eight ahead of Welsh visitor, Steve Wood, in his Fiesta WRC. A late entry has also been received from Cookstown’s Philip Allen who claimed third overall at the opening round of the McGrady Insurance backed series.

Two-wheel-drive

Such is the quality of entry that all of the leading two-wheel-drive crews are seeded outside the top 20. Topping the list are James and Heather Kennedy in their Escort MkII. They secured the category win at round one after an intense battle with the MkI Escort belonging to Andrew White and Paul Hughes.

White impressed onlookers at round one when he powered into an early category lead, only succumbing to Kennedy’s advances during the latter stages of the event. He starts Bishopscourt just behind the Kennedy husband and wife team, while Jamie Grant and Jonny Chambers will keep them honest in their Toyota Starlet.

The Event

The Race & Rally Stages starts shortly after 9am with all six stages held within the confines of Bishopscourt Race Circuit. Admission to the event is £10 per person. For more information, including regular updates as Saturday’s rally progresses, visit nirallychampionship.com or fb.com/nirallying.

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