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After SS3: McGarrity Retires, Moffett Leads!

Derek McGarrity and Paddy Robinson have retired from the McKelvey Asbestos Bushwhacker Rally!

The Championship leaders arrived safely at first service but a suspect trail of oil was left on the road after the time control, a problem that was later diagnosed as a leak at the crank near the back of the engine.

“We could top it up as we go on but you run the risk of starting a fire,” a dejected McGarrity said at service. “I can’t afford to run the risk of losing the car.”

McGarrity had been lying fourth overall as he arrived into service, seven seconds behinds leaders Josh Moffett and Stephen Thornton, and that was despite a moment on stage two.

“Balls over brain into a left-hander,” McGarrity laughed, “and there wasn’t enough room for what I wanted to do. We went into a ditch but we got out of it again.”

As for rally leader Moffett, he has been fastest or equal fastest on all three stages so far and leads the rally by three seconds from Barry McKenna and Leon Jordan. Neither crew reported any issues.

Desi Henry and Liam Moynihan hold third overall, a further three seconds adrift of the rally leaders and as the first car on the road, they experienced very slippery conditions.

“It was extremely slippery,” Henry said. “We had a slow first stage because it was so loose. The second stage was OK and we were joint fastest but then the third stage was very loose again so we dropped a bit more time. Running first on the road is a bit of a disadvantage but we’ll keep her nailed and do the best we can!”

Even with McGarrity’s retirement, Henry must win the rally to stay in the N.I. Championship title hunt. Anything less and the title will be decided in McGarrity’s favour.

Connor McCloskey in fifth said the opening three tests were a “big wake up call” in the Impreza WRC as he contests his first event in four months, while Scottish visitor, Jock Armstrong, reckons he needs to soften his suspension.

Adrian Hetherington is “happy enough” and going well in his Corolla WRC to hold sixth overall. Cathan McCourt couldn’t get into a rhythm on stage three but reported no issues.

Kenny McKinstry had a problem on the first stage that was “one of our own makings”. He didn’t think there was a third bale at a chicane and had to slow to a near stop to get around it. Meanwhile, Alan Carmichael’s Mini WRC is running sweetly but the Ballymena man isn’t!

“The car is going well but I’m not!” Carmichael smiled. “I need to go harder. I’m just not committing to the corners like I should.”

Other crews with issues include Stephen McCann who broke a driveshaft at the start of stage one. Liam Regan reckons that there’s something “not right with the front of the car”. He’s hoping it’s a tyre issue rather than a transmission problem.

Conor McCourt reported that his car was sliding too much on left-hand corners while Darren McKelvey had suspension trouble and said, “the back of his car is all over the shop”.

Ashley Dickson was off the road on stage two and commented, “We spun at a 3 left and then we went off on the side of the road. Then I stalled, then I couldn’t find reverse, and then we had to get the car turned around again once we did get going.”

Paul Britton had a puncture midway through the first stage but managed to get it changed before the start of stage two. Patrick O’Brien hurt his back after a heavy landing on the Lough Braden stage but is determined to struggle on.

2WD

David Crossen hit a chicane on the first test and had to “push it out of the way”, losing around five seconds in the process. However, he still leads the category by three seconds from 2WD rival, Paul Barrett, who had a spin on stage two.

Shane McGirr said he was cautious over the bumps on stage three and finally for now, Mickey Conlon said he struggled to find a rhythm in the third stage. He reckons he needs “Shane McGirr to pull over for a while” to give him a chance!

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