2009 Bushwhacker Rally Report

26 September 2009

Kenny McKinstry seals victory at the McKelvey Bushwhacker Rally!


Banbridge's Kenny McKinstry desperately needed victory at the McKelvey Asbestos Removal Bushwhacker Rally to keep his Hankook MSA N.I. Stage Rally Championship hopes alive. And with Bangor's Noel Orr navigating, the Subaru Impreza WRC crew duly delivered when they sealed the spoils by a slender six seconds from Derek McGarrity and James McKee!


McKinstry led from the start of the Omagh Motor Club event but it quickly transpired that victory was not going to be easy. He lost precious seconds when his Impreza slipped onto three cylinders and a surprised Damien Tourish nipped into the rally lead after stage three.


Tourish, driving his Group N Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9, headed the former champion by a slender one second but it was a short-lived affair. McKinstry's Subaru was back in fighting form after service, and he promptly returned to the number one position.


Over the second loop of stages, the Banbridge pilot concentrated on building his advantage over his rivals. After stage six, he had increased his lead to 12 seconds over Tourish, who was sharing second position with championship leader, Derek McGarrity.


Throughout the day, McGarrity was tweaking the characteristics of his Toyota Corolla WRC to his liking. As improvements were made, his stage times tumbled, and he was on the verge of snatching second from Tourish.


The afternoon stages moved to the Lough Braden Forest complex and McKinstry's rally was about to take another twist.  An overshoot during stage eight saw him drop a substantial 10 seconds to the chasing pack, leaving him with two seconds in hand and only two stages remaining!


The battle for the McKelvey Bushwhacker Rally honours was going to the wire and it was a thrilling tussle between the two championship elects, Kenny McKinstry and Derek McGarrity. It was all down to the final two stages and at the last gasp, it was McKinstry who held the advantage. Fastest times over the final two stages saw the Banbridge pilot seal the rally victory by six seconds!


"I kept making life difficult for myself," McKinstry said afterwards. "We did two stages with the car on three cylinders, then built up a lead, only to have an overshoot. We lost about 14 or 15 seconds with that, so with two stages to go, we had a lead of two seconds instead of about 30 seconds!"


McGarrity sealed second on the event and in championship terms, the title is very much swinging in the Glengormley dealer's favour. A top three finish at either of the final two events would see him lift the Northern Ireland Championship crown for a second time.


In third position, Neil McCance and Sean Ferris also topped the Sunoco Fuels Group N category. The crew lagged behind Damien Tourish for much of the day, but when the stages switched to the Lough Braden complex, McCance found some extra speed. He overhauled Tourish to finish third overall, eight seconds ahead of his rival.


While Tourish and navigator John McElhinney finished fourth overall, James Gillen and Jason Harron claimed fifth ahead of Martin Cairns and Andrew Purcell. John and James Cairns took seventh, while Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan completed the top eight, and finished third in Group N.


In the Superdrive two-wheel-drive category, Vivian and Paul Hamill claimed the spoils aboard their Mark 2 Escort. They also finished just outside the top 10 overall, while Trevor Moore and Ray Fitzpatrick claimed second in the category to maintain their 2WD championship lead. Frank Kelly and Liam Brennan completed the top three.


Finally, the Montgomery Motorsport historic category saw Ryan Barrett and Barry Ferris take the spoils in their Mark 2 Escort. The crew finished comfortably ahead of Philip Hunter and Micky Faloon, with Tommy O'Connell and Sean Magee third.


Battle resumes at round nine of the Hankook MSA Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship, on the F&M Contracts Down Rally based in Newcastle.


Jonathan MacDonald


McKelvey Bushwhacker Rally - top 10 results


  1. Kenny McKinstry/Noel Orr (Impreza WRC) 34m16s
  2. Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Corolla WRC) 34m22s
  3. Neil McCance/Sean Ferris (Lancer Evo) 34m45s
  4. Damien Tourish/John McElhinney (Lancer Evo) 34m53s
  5. James Gillen/Jason Harron (Impreza) 34m54s
  6. Martin Cairns/Andrew Purcell (Impreza WRC) 34m58s
  7. John Cairns/James Cairns (Impreza) 35m07s
  8. Donagh Kelly/Kevin Flanagan (Lancer Evo) 35m10s
  9. Raymond Johnston/Rodney Hicks (Lancer Evo) 35m31s
  10. John Bustard/Robert McKelvey (Lancer Evo) 35m46s


Posted by PMcCollum on 5/10/2009; Last updated by PMcCollum on 5/10/2009