Jonathan Greer and Kirsty Riddick celebrate winning the Northern Ireland Rally Championship
Jonathan Greer begins the defence of is drivers’ title at Kirkistown this weekend

The Northern Ireland Rally Championship is sticking to the tried-and-tested five-round format for next year, with three of these confirmed as being closed-road events by those who drew up the calendar.

The Tarmac competition is another compact affair, with the opening round scheduled to get underway in the middle of February and the concluding points-scoring meeting taking place five months later.

North Armagh Motor Club will host the first round – a single-venue rally – on Saturday, February 19 at Kirkistown in County Down before the baton is passed to Ballynahinch and District Motor Club Ltd. It will be another circuit-based counter and has been pencilled in for the second Saturday in March.

Round three sees the return of Maiden City Motor Club’s Maiden City Stages Rally. Last held in 2019, it continues to be based out of Strabane but this time around it will feature two stages run three times.

The penultimate counter on June 4 is Cookstown Motor Club’s Tyrone Stages before all eyes turn to the Down Rally on July 23. It promises to have added appeal as Rathfriland Motor Club representatives will welcome competitors from the Northern Ireland and Motorsport UK Asphalt rally championships.

Speaking on behalf of the Northern Ireland Rally Championship, Jonathan MacDonald said those overseeing the changes are sure they will have the desired effect in terms of car numbers.

“The 2021 McGrady Insurance Northern Ireland Rally Championship was very well supported,” he said. “We had more than two hundred registered competitors and we are now looking forward to the 2022 series, which is set to follow a similar format to this year’s very successful championship,” he added.

Giving his views on the 2022 calendar, reigning Northern Ireland Rally champion Jonathan Greer said: “It’s good to see a few more closed road events on the schedule next year. The first two being single venue l think should allow people to get back into it after the winter break, so it’s a very good balance.

“We don’t know much about the format of the closed road events yet, but my initial impressions are that the Northern Ireland Rally Championship looks good next year,” added the Citroen C3 R5 driver.

Greer and his co-driving team-mate Kirsty Riddick won the title on the last round of the Championship back in October to deny Derek McGarrity a record-extending ninth crown.

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