An exciting and hotly contested Bushwhacker Rally was held in Omagh last Saturday. Derek Mc Garrity emerged victorious with a 13 second margin over Martin Cairns with Kenny Mc Kinstry in third place a further 14 seconds in arrears.
Fourth place was claimed by Colin Britton (just nine seconds off Mc Kinstry) with local man Mark Donnelly fifth. Once again Frank Kelly was best 2WD, the Moy driver had his Escort in sixth overall.
The Bushwhacker was the round 6 of the Valvoline MI championship and the final round of the NI rally championship. The ten stage event attracted 98 entries.
It quickly developed into a shoot out between Cairns and Mc Garrity.
Cairns was driving his Impreza WRC S10 and he led the rally from the start until stage 8 where he had a three second gap to Impreza WRC S14 of Mc Garrity. On ss9 Mc Garrity upped the ante and he took 6 seconds on the 1.9 miles and a further 13 seconds on the final 6.7 mile test near Gortin to win the rally by thirteen seconds. With this win, Mc Garrity has claimed his third NI rally championship.
Cairns was not too disappointed as he collected maximum Valvoline Championship points and he also finished ahead of rally legend Mc Kinstry. Another major development at the final test was the retirement of Garry Jennings. Jennings had driven the socks of his Group A Impreza all day and his engine expired at the start line of thestage. He was third overall rally at the time and if he finished in that position Jennings would have won the Valvoline Forest title. Disappointment for the Kesh man who must now go to the final rally of the series in Glens of Antrim on Oct 27 to clinch the title. Jennings left Omagh with 88 championship points to his credit and he is still favourite for the championship.
Colin Britton had an excellent run to 4th overall and best group N car. As a result of Jennings retirement Britton is the recipient of the 19 championship points which will add to his status in the Glens of Antrim.
Frank Kelly was sixth and best 2WD ahead of many four wheel drive machines. Those who spectated the event will testify that Kelly’s driving was inspired. A good week for Kelly-he won the Mk2 section of the Dunlop National Championship in Clare the previous Sunday.
Stephen Wright put in another consistent drive and he collected seventeen points and he maintains his lead at the top of the Valvoline leaderboard. Vincent Mc Aree was tenth overall and he earned 16 points which keeps him in the mix for the championship.
Other Valvoline registered drivers who caught the eye included Ger Lucey (who strengthened his hold of fifth place in the championship), Shay Power (who extends his class 5 lead),Ray Benskin Jnr ( had another class 4 win), Tommy O’ Connell (won class ten and thus he became the first ever Irish Forestry Historic Champion) and Dean Raftery who had another Class nine (junior) win. Adrain Mc Elhinny and Ian Downey both retired on stage 8 and 9 respectively.
Championship points after Round 6 Bushwhacker
S.Wright 100, C.Britton 96, V.Mc Aree 93, G.Jennings 88, Ger Lucey 75.
It is important to note dropped scores will come to play after the final round.
If two dropped scores were implemented now the table would read:
G.Jennings 87,C.Britton 79, V. Mc Aree 77 and S.Wright 72.
TOP TEN BUSHWHACKER RALLY
Derek McGarrity / James McKee Impreza WRC S14 34:33
Martin Cairns / Kevin Flanagan Impreza WRCS 10 34:46
Kenny McKinstry / Noel Orr Impreza WRC S10 35:00
Colin Britton / Arthur Kierans Evo 9 35:09
Mark Donnelly / Sean Ferris Evo9 35:14
Frank Kelly / Liam Brennan Escort Mk2 35:36
Derek McGeehan / Damien Connolly Mini WRC 35:38
Steven Wright / Suzanne Wright Evo 6 35:50
Vivian Hamill / Paul Hamill Escort MK2 35:52
Vincent McAree / JP McAree Evo9 35:54