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Carryduff’s Jonny Greer and Welshman Dai Roberts have secured victory at the MJE Wheel Repair Specialists Tyrone Stages Rally, round four of the McGrady Insurance NI Rally Championship.

Driving their Citroen C3, Greer and Roberts moved into the lead after the second stage and never looked back. They went on to set fastest times on six of the nine competitive stages to claim victory by 17.1s at the Cookstown Motor Club event.

“They were difficult stages but the whole rally has run perfectly and the car has been fantastic,” Greer said at the finish. “Plus it’s good to have two Citroens in first and second overall.”

Initially, it was Desi Henry and Paddy Robinson who were fastest out of the blocks in their Ford Fiesta. The Kilrea driver had won the previous round of the championship just two weeks ago and was looking to secure two on the trot but mechanical trouble on only the second stage put him out of the rally.

Both Declan Boyle and Philip Allen were expected to be among the frontrunners but they crashed out of the rally on the opening stage. The leading lights were falling like flies but there was no such trouble for Jonny Greer. After his retirement from round three when he broke a rear hub after clipping a bridge, the reigning champion knew he had to finish strongly in Tyrone to keep his championship hopes alive.

After he moved into the lead, Greer set about building an advantage over his rivals. He kept a strong but steady pace to edge out a lead of almost eight seconds after the first loop of stages. That advantage was almost doubled after the second loop, leaving him with a challenge-free run to the finish line to claim the spoils.

Arriving home in second position for the second championship event in succession were Cathan McCourt and Liam Moynihan. They spent the day testing different settings in their Citroen and sealed two fastest times. In the end, they trailed the rally winners by 17 seconds but were pleased with the day’s work.

“We made a lot of changes during the day,” McCourt said. “I wanted to try different things to see what way they would work with the car but I’m happy with the setup now.”

Peadar Hurson and Damien Connolly just managed to hold on to third overall after they stalled their Fiesta WRC briefly at the start of the final stage. The crew struggled to get their car around some of the tight chicanes but survived to tell the tale, finishing 1.7s clear of the Skoda belonging to Daniel Barry and Lorcan Moore.

Alan Carmichael and Arthur Kierans rallied their Hyundai i20 R5 into fifth overall, even managing to claim fastest time on the final stage of the event. The crew struggled to find confidence with their suspension setup so some work still needs to be done to ensure they can get the best out of their car.

Sixth overall for Derek McGarrity and Graham Henderson ensures the Glengormley driver stays at the head of the championship tables. They lost time with clutch trouble during the middle loop of stages – a problem that was rectified by the DMG Motorsport mechanics at service when they changed the Polo’s clutch in just 25 minutes!

However, while McGarrity remains at the top of the tables with one round remaining, dropped scores are still to come into play so it is Jonny Greer who effectively enters the final round as the favourite for success. A top six finish among the championship registered crews at July’s Down Rally would be enough to seal the spoils.

Jason Mitchell and Patrick McCrudden put their round three accident behind them to seal seventh overall while Joe McGonigle and Ciaran Geaney finished eighth. McGonigle took maximum points on his last outing and is still firmly in the hunt for the title. He holds joint second in the title race with Aaron McLaughlin who finished 10th on the event.

In the two-wheel-drive category, Ryan Loughran and Gareth Doherty set a scintillating pace throughout the day in their Escort MkII. With a brand new engine fitted to the car, Loughran was initially embroiled in a battle with Scottish visitor, David Bogie.

Unfortunately for Bogie, he was forced out with mechanical trouble while trailing Loughran by a handful of seconds. That left Loughran with a clear run to victory as he headed home the father and daughter crew of Frank and Lauren Kelly by more than one minute.

However, third in the class for Alan Smyth and Gary McCrudden has bolstered their chances of NI Championship 2WD success. With neither Loughran nor Kelly registered for the series, Smyth takes another maximum points haul, moving him further ahead at the top of the 2WD tables.

Next Event: Down Rally

With one championship round remaining, the Tyrone Stages result puts Jonny Greer’s championship campaign back on track. He is back in the thick of the fight for the title, together with Derek McGarrity, Joe McGonigle and Aaron McLaughlin. The Carryduff Forklift Down Rally hosts the decider on Saturday 23 July. Visit nirallychampionship.com for further information.

Results (Top 10)

1 Jonny Greer/Dai Roberts (Citroen C3) 41m26.4s
2 Cathan McCourt/Liam Moynihan (Citroen C3) +17.1s
3 Peadar Hurson/Damien Connolly (Ford Fiesta WRC) +44.5s
4 Daniel Barry/Lorcan Moore (Skoda Fabia R5) +46.2s
5 Alan Carmichael/Arthur Kierans (Hyundai i20 R5) +59.3s
6 Derek McGarrity/Graham Henderson (VW Polo GTi) +1m06.3s
7 Jason Mitchell/Patrick McCrudden (Ford Fiesta) +1m16.3s
8 Joseph McGonigle/Ciaran Geaney (Ford Fiesta) +1m19.9s
9 Ryan Loughran/Gareth Doherty (Ford Escort MkII) +1m24.3s
10 Aaron McLaughlin/Darren Curran (Ford Fiesta R5) +1m33.7s

Image: Jonathan MacDonald

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