The opening round of the McGrady Insurance Northern Ireland Rally Championship takes place this weekend, with three former champions among the top five entries.
Featuring six special stages, Stephen Wright and Ger Conway head up a high-quality entry list for Saturday’s Orchard Motorsport Kirkistown Stages Rally.
Wright – a double winner of the County Down, single-venue event – will be joined by reigning champion Jonny Greer in his all-new Citroen Racing-developed C3 Rally 2 supermini.
Also in a Citroen C3 Rally 2 car is Darren Gass, while eight-time series champion Derek McGarrity will vie for his first win of the 2022 season aboard a ‘Plus’ version of Skoda Motorsport’s Fabia R5.
Aaron McLaughlin and Kenny McKinstry, meanwhile, have a pair of Ford Fiesta World Rally Cars lined up for the Tarmac-opener – the first of five events that make up this year’s Championship.
Other names of note include Philip Allen and Joseph McGonigle in a brace of Ford Fiesta R5s, and Scottish visitor Nigel Feeney who makes the trip over the Irish Sea in a Ford Fiesta World Rally Car.
The two-wheel-drive category features modified machinery belonging to James Kennedy (Ford Escort Mk2), Jamie Grant (Toyota Starlet), and Championship sponsor Fintan McGrady who will debut a historic-specification Ford Escort Mk2.
McGrady Insurance’s sponsorship of this year’s series marks the Downpatrick-based firm’s thirtieth year of support for motorsport in the province.
“The motorsport community in Northern Ireland is a tight-knit and loyal band of enthusiasts which I have had the pleasure of being supported by in both sport and business,” said Fintan McGrady.
“I am delighted to support the Northern Ireland Rally Championship as a way of giving back to the community that has made such an important contribution to McGrady Insurance over the years,” he added.
McGrady Insurance’s backing will cover the five main Northern Ireland Rally Championship events as well as the three-event Northern Ireland Forest Challenge.
Organised by North Armagh Motor Club Ltd, Saturday’s meeting starts at 9.15am with admission to the event £10 per person.