Tyrone crews impress as Desi dazzles in the Sperrins

Castlederg’s Andrew Bustard and co-driver Gavin Doherty won class five at the Go Tour of the Sperrins Rally. Photo: Mark McCullagh


DESI Henry and Liam Moynihan may have topped timing sheets from Kesh driver Garry Jennings at the ‘Go’ sponsored Tour of the Sperrins Rally on Saturday, but there were several impressive performances from Tyrone crews during the second round of the McGrady Insurance MSA NI Rally Championship.


After the opening three stages of the Magherafelt and District Motor Club event, the Portglenone driver had edged out an advantage of 3.2 seconds over number one seed Jennings.

After service, Henry’s Skoda Fabia R5 flew through the fourth stage, setting the fastest time by almost five seconds.
Meanwhile, Jennings could only manage the third fastest time after he spun and Henry went on to set another two fastest times to seal an overall win by 12.9 seconds.

“I knew the rally was over when that [the spin] happened but we enjoyed it,” Jennings observed. “I’m a lot happier in the car than what I was in the morning. We’ll have to do a couple more rallies before Donegal.”

Jennings and Michael Moran slotted home in second overall and first in class eight in their Go backed Subaru Impreza WRC, while third for Derek McGarrity and Paddy Robinson allowed them to maintain their position at the top of the McGrady Insurance NI Championship table.

Ryan Loughran and Gareth Doherty arrived home in an excellent fourth overall, picking up the top two-wheel-drive award in the process. The crew survived a scare near the start of the opening stage but settled themselves to set a handful of top five overall stage times.

Scottish visitor, David Bogie, was full of smiles at the finish as he arrived home in fifth overall with his Escort. The result helped him put his recent accident at the Pirelli International Rally behind him when he overturned his Skoda Fabia.

Dungannon’s Paddy McVeigh and Ballygawley co-driver Denver Rafferty secured sixth overall and third in class nine, finishing just ahead of one of the performances of the day from the all-female team of Amy Cox and Caron McCormack, who finished an impressive seventh overall and second in class eight.


Driving the McCormack brothers’ Skoda Fabia R5, Beragh driver Cox, who was competing in her first tarmac rally in five years and on only her third outing behind the wheel of the car, produced a string of impressive stage times to come home well inside the top 10.

“It was a very enjoyable event,” she said. “The car was perfect, the weather was great and they were good stages.”

Cox and McCormack finished just under six seconds ahead of another Tyrone crew of Castlederg’s Darren McKelvey and Fintona co-driver Aaron Johnston, who brought their Evo 9 home in ninth overall for third place in class eight.

There was plenty of other local successes, with Cookstown’s Ryan Loughran and co-driver Gareth Doherty winning class seven onboard their Ford Escort MKII.

Castlederg’s Andrew Bustard did likewise in class five alongside Gavin Doherty in another MKII, finishing ahead of Jamie Grant and his Strabane navigator Eathan McColgan in their Toyota Starlet.

And North Tyrone duo, Paul Britton and Gary Cairns were second and third in class two respectively, with George Tinsley and Kieran McGrath their co-pilots in a Subaru Impreza N1 and a Mitsubishi Evo IX.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for local crews, however, with plenty facing dramas during the day.

Cookstown’s Philip Allen survived a massive and spectacular two-wheel moment on stage one but then slipped off the road and into retirement on stage two. Galbally’s Barry Morris and Declan Campbell, who were just outside the top 10 in their Escort after stage one, also went off the road on stage two after a tyre parted with a rim, leaving them to watch the remainder of the rally as spectators.

Others that joined the retirement list included Drumquin’s Alan Smyth who was fifth overall until his Mitsubishi Evo X broke a shaft near the start of the fourth stage, while Cookstown’s Kevin McBride, in another Evo, also ended his rally off the road.

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