A rally car being driven around Shackleton in Ballykelly
Desi Henry quickly adjusted to life in his new Fiesta Rally2 car. Picture: Gary Craig Motorsport Photography

Portglenone’s Desi Henry says he is surprised at how quickly he managed to gel with his new Fiesta Rally2 car on the Turkey Run Rally.

He acquired the M-Sport Ford developed supermini from fellow Ulsterman Cathan McCourt who made only a handful of outings in it, the last of which came on November’s Ulster Rally.

Reunited with former long-term co-driver John Rowan for this week’s end-of-season competition, Henry took top spot by 7.4 seconds from 2019 winner Aaron McLaughlin.

McCourt rounded out the podium places in third at the Maiden City Motor Club meeting; the deficit to him and Henry after five stages around the sprawling Shackleton complex totalled 36.2 seconds.

“I am very happy with the result,” said Henry, who won at the same venue back in August when it hosted the Dog Leap Rally, the second round of the Northern Ireland Rally Championship.

“I thought we would have struggled up there against the World Rally Car’s and Derek McGarrity’s 2.0-litre Skoda Fabia R5 Plus because we were down on power against them.

“That was true when the conditions improved and the stages began to dry up – it really hurt us – but thankfully things turned slippery again and that kept us in contention for the victory.”

The Turkey Run was Henry’s first proper taste of the Fiesta, which carried him to two fastest stages times on Wednesday. “All in all, I’m very happy considering it was our first time out in the car – it is a very impressive piece of kit,” said Henry.

“There isn’t much missing other than perfecting the car’s set-up. We didn’t have much time with the car before the Turkey Run Rally but having said that it doesn’t feel too far away. Some minor tweaks and we should be where we want to be,” he added.

Ronan Campbell emerged victorious in the Historic Class, with the Production Class spoils going the way of Ronnie McConnell. Gareth Irwin secured the bragging rights in the modified category at the wheel of his Ford Escort Mk2.

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