2010 Circuit National Rally Report

4 April 2010

John Waring and Alan Whyte took a surprise victory at last weekend's UTV Drive Circuit of Ireland National Rally, round three of the Hankook MSA Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship.


For the first time in more than 10 years, a Mark 2 Escort driver topped the podium of a Northern Ireland Rally Championship event. But Waring only took control at the last gasp when Kenny McKinstry's dreams of another win went up in smoke.


McKinstry, navigated by Noel Orr, had led the event from the start in his Subaru Impreza WRC. By the end of the opening leg, he had amassed a substantial advantage of almost five minutes over Emma McKinstry and Kenny Hull.


That opening day saw a number of top seeds hit trouble. Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan retired from second position on stage two when the oil pressure dropped in their Ford Focus WRC. A few stages later, Camillus Bradley crashed out of the rally, and Raymond Johnston retired from second overall on stage eight.


Out in front, McKinstry has everything under control. Fastest on every stage by a massive margin, he could afford to cruise to the rally spoils during leg two. Going into the final stage, he was more than eight minutes in front, but then his Impreza WRC caught fire.


McKinstry's daughter, Emma, stopped at the scene to help extinguish the fire, and the stage was stopped shortly afterwards. Unfortunately, Kenny's rally was over, allowing a surprised and elated John Waring to claim the rally spoils.


Waring had been fighting with Emma McKinstry for the runner-up position during the second leg. Going into the final loop of three stages, he was a slender 3.4 seconds in front. But the Mark 2 driver stayed in front, and went on to lift the rally spoils.


Emma McKinstry and Kenny Hull claimed second in their Subaru Impreza World Rally Car ahead of Raymond Conlon and Darren McCague, who were rueing a 30 second penalty.


Mervyn Wedlock and Damien McCabe came home in fourth ahead of David Armstrong and John Rowlands, while Cyril Doherty and Graham Henderson were sixth and won the Sunoco Fuels Group N category.


Trevor Ferguson and David McElroy were next in line in Group N, sealing seventh overall, while Stuart Biggerstaff and Anthony Nestor completed the top eight.


The event marked Biggerstaff's maiden closed road rally outing, and after bedding himself in during day one, he was really beginning to make progress through the ranks on day two.


A number of top three stage times saw the 21-year-old driver rise through the ranks, and he may have finished higher than eighth overall had the final stage not been cancelled. Nonetheless, the result sees him move into the joint Championship lead with Derek McGarrity.


In the Montgomery Motorsport Historic category, Alan Courtney and Jim Hill claimed maximum points, while Niall Henry won the Autofashion.ie Group A Cup category. Finally, Jonny Leonard and Jackie Donaldson once again claimed the M-Sport Bonus Parts Scheme prize as the leading Fiesta crew.


Round four of the Hankook MSA Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship takes competitors to Maghera for the TNR Alu-Systems Tour of the Sperrins Rally. This year's event, which takes place Saturday 08 May, returns to closed road stages in the surrounding area.


Jonathan MacDonald


UTV Drive Circuit of Ireland National Rally top 10

  1. John Waring/Alan Whyte (Escort Mk2) 2h11m31.1s
  2. Emma McKinstry/Kenny Hull (Impreza WRC) 2h11m43.4s
  3. Raymond Conlon/Darren McCague (Corolla) 2h12m04.9s
  4. Mervyn Wedlock/Damien McCabe (Escort Mk2) 2h13m32.3s
  5. David Armstrong/John Rowlands (Escort G3) 2h13m55.1s
  6. Cyril Doherty/Graham Henderson (Impreza) 2h14m52.7s
  7. Trevor Ferguson/David McElroy (Impreza) 2h14m56.8s
  8. Stuart Biggerstaff/Anthony Nestor (Impreza WRC) 2h15m14.4s
  9. Geoffrey Dolan/Connor Murphy (Sunbeam) 2h15m14.5s
  10. Chris Simms/Hugh McKenna (Escort Mk2) 2h15m16.2s


Hankook MSA Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship standings after round three

1= Derek McGarrity 24pts

1= Stuart Biggerstaff 24pts

3 George Robinson 19pts

4= Raymond Johnston 13pts

4= Alan Carmichael 13pts

6 John Waring 12pt

Posted by PMcCollum on 7/6/2010; Last updated by PMcCollum on 7/6/2010