McGrady Insurance Motorsport UK Northern Ireland Rally Championship

SS5: Stephen Wright on the verge of victory; Kieron Graffin collects a tyre!

SS5 WRIGHT ON THE VERGE OF VICTORY: The rain is back with a vengeance but that hasn’t stopped Stephen Wright and Gary McKenna from edging another step closer to victory at the Pacenotes Rally Magazine Stages!

They were fastest again and with one stage remaining, they head the leaderboard by 7.6 seconds from the Mini WRC belonging to Derek and Mark McGeehan while Derek McGarrity and Paddy Robinson are third.

“I’m still finding it hard to gauge our pace on the stage,” Wright said. “It’s so wet and there’s a lot of standing water so we’re just trying to stay out of trouble.”

Derek and Mark McGeehan managed to set second fastest time on the test, just a few tenths behind the leaders. They also increased the gap between themselves and third placed McGarrity to 7.4 seconds who made a mistake during the test that cost precious seconds.

“Someone must have hit the arrows on part of the circuit as they’re pointing different directions,” McGarrity said. “I got a bit confused and ended up adding an extra 100 yards to our stage because we took a longer route!”

McGarrity could only manage fifth fastest time after the incident, leaving hopes of nabbing the runner-up position in tatters.

Missing at the end of the test were Kenny McKinstry and Conor Duffy. Their Subaru was reportedly misfiring and they had to pull over. Alan and Lucy Carmichael are also suffering with a misfire and the inside of their Fiesta R5 was soaking wet with muddy water!

Gareth Sayers and Ash Boulton were full of smiles again despite catching an Escort during the stage. They were behind the car going onto the gravel section but were afraid of their windscreen being broken by flying stones so had to back off.

Also in trouble were Kieron Graffin and Clive Kilpatrick who finished the stage with a trackside tyre sticking out of their front bumper. A broken steering rack forced them to run wide on a few corners.

Dominic McNeill broke a driveshaft but is hoping to get it fixed in service before the final stage. Wesley Patterson aquaplaned off the road on an earlier stage and got stuck on the grass but with no damage to his Escort, he’s back in action. Ironically, before the incident happened, he said he just wanted to get to the end of the event without any dramas!

Emma McKinstry lost a few more seconds when she stalled on the start line and Keith White reported some visibility problems in the deteriorating conditions.

There’s just one stage to go! Latest results are available from https://www.rallyscore.net/#/results/2238/900?Kirkistown-Stages

Jonathan

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