The Northern Ireland Rally Championship heads to Bishopscourt on Saturday as round one winner Jonny Greer hopes to double up on his local event.
Greer was the man to beat on last year’s Bishopscourt Stages Rally, a victory that kick-started a campaign resulting in him becoming Northern Irish Rally Champion for the second time.
He’s navigated by Darragh Mullen this time around in the Citroen C3 Rally2. The event, which is headline sponsored by Race and Rally, has attracted nearly 90 competing crews.
Bishopscourt is a perfect opportunity for Greer to bed into the C3 ahead of his first Irish Tarmac Rally Championship appearance of the year in West Cork the following weekend.
Derek McGarrity and Graham Henderson will be hot on Greer’s tyre tracks in their Skoda Fabia R5. With 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.
Recent Mayo Stages Rally podium contenders Stephen Wright and Darren Gass will renew their battle in a Ford Fiesta R5 and Citroen C3 respectively. Wright will hope to return to the form that had him win the Northern Ireland Rally Championship in 2019.
The father and daughter crew of Kieron and Amy Graffin complete the top five seeds. A late entry has also been received from Cookstown’s Philip Allen who claimed third overall in Kirkistown’s opening round.
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 Ford Escort Mk2.
They secured the category win at round one after an intense battle with the Mk1 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.
White 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 action gets underway in Bishopscourt shortly after 09:00 with six stages totaling 62 competitive kilometres.
Bishopscourt Stages Rally entry list (top ten)
1 Jonathan Greer – Darragh Mullen (Citroen C3 Rally 2)
2 Derek McGarrity – Graham Henderson (Skoda Fabia R5)
3 Stephen Wright – Ger Conway (Ford Fiesta R5)
4 Darren Gass – Sam Hutchinson (C3 Rally2)
5 Kieron Graffin – Amy Graffin (Ford Fiesta R5)
6 Aaron McLaughlin – Darren Curran (Fiesta WRC)
7 Mark Massey – Alistair Wylie (Fiesta R5)
8 Joseph McGonigle – Ciaran Geaney (Fiesta Rally2)
9 Steve Wood – Jay Colville (Fiesta WRC)
11 Emma McKinstry – Kenny Hull (Fiesta R5)
Press release supplied by Northern Ireland Rally Championship
Photos by Adam Hall and Mark McCullagh