MSA Northern Ireland Rally Championship, Eurocables Stages

Round 1: MSA Northern Ireland Rally Championship, Kirkistown, 15 February

Derek McGarrity got his title defence under way with victory on the season-opening Eurocables Stages Rally at Kirkistown.

McGarrity fought a mighty battle with three-time champion Kenny McKinstry. The pair traded the lead until McGarrity surged to a six-second victory, driving the final two stages on the absolute limit.

“I had to work so hard today, not to make one mistake,” said McGarrity. “I knew that one fluffed gear change and Kenny would be taking a chunk of time off me, as we had to make up for the power difference. The Mini however was handling and braking very well, and it was a great day’s racing.”

Results1 Derek McGarrity / James McKee (Mini Countryman WRC) 26m15.1s2 Kenny McKinstry / Noel Orr (Subaru Impreza S14 WRC) 26m21.1s3 Kevin Barrett / Claire Gamble (Subaru Impreza S14 WRC) 26m54.2s

Provisional championship standings1 Derek McGarrity – 12 points2 Kenny McKinstry – 103 Alan Carmichael – 84 Paddy McVeigh – 75 Emma McKinstry – 5

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