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Title Battle Hots Up at the McKelvey Asbestos Bushwhacker Rally!

The battle for the McGrady Insurance Motorsport UK Northern Ireland Rally Championship crown resumes this Saturday (21 September) in the forests surrounding Omagh with the McKelvey Asbestos Bushwhacker Rally and a thrilling event is on the cards!

All of the main championship contenders have placed their entries for what is round six of the series. We’re at the business end of the season where every single point is crucial and it’s still impossible to predict the outcome of the intense title battle.

A handful of competitors are in the running and they will all lock horns over 10 forestry stages. Derek McGeehan (MINI WRC), Stephen Wright (Fiesta R5), Derek McGarrity (Fiesta WRC) and Desi Henry (Fiesta WRC) are all in with a shout of the title while top two-wheel-drive exponent, James Kennedy (Escort MkII), is mixing it with the big guns too!

McGeehan has led the series since March with a string of consistent finishes but we’re coming to the stage of the season where dropped scores may come into play. Championship regulations state that a competitor’s best six scores will be counted towards their final points tally at the end of the year, and with eight events scheduled to run, the battle for the crown is set to get even closer!

McGeehan really needs to grab a maximum score to bolster his chances as a few big guns are breathing down his neck. Stephen Wright, who won the opening round of the year at Kirkistown but dropped back after missing an event, now has two victories to his name. He’s second in the standings and if the dropped score rule was brought into play at this stage of the season, he would be narrowly in front of McGeehan.

Meanwhile, reigning champion Derek McGarrity has had a difficult year by his standards. The normally consistent finisher – and winner – has faced an uphill struggle from the start when he retired from the lead of round one with mechanical problems. Another retirement at the Lakeland Stages dented his chances further and he lies fifth in the standings but is still very much in the hunt.

As for Desi Henry, they say it’s better late than never and that seems to be the motto that the Portglenone driver is using. He has only entered two events so far this year and has won both of them. Now he intends to continue his challenge at the Bushwhacker and might well be able to propel himself into the title fight.

Others in the mix for the Bushwhacker Rally victory will include former champion Connor McCloskey (Impreza WRC), former Scottish champion Jock Armstrong (Impreza) and a host of others including the 2000 N.I. Champion Robin Phillips (Impreza WRC) and maybe even Lithuania’s Martynas Samsonas in his usual but potent four-wheel-drive BMW E46.

Saturday’s event is based from Omagh’s Silverbirch Hotel with scrutiny at Donnell & Ellis Ltd in Omagh. The first car will leave the start ramp on Saturday morning and competitors will tackle all 10 stages in the forests. Service will be located at Aghyaran Community Centre in Castlederg.

Full entry list is available HERE.

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