NORTH Tyrone duo, Declan McCrory and Aidan Wray, had an enjoyable and successful outing at the Clare Stages Rally on Sunday.
The Clady pair finished fourth and fifth respectively in the overall standings, with McCrory taking the class five honours and Wray the class four title.
For McCrory, as well as sealing the local bragging rights ahead of his friend, it was his first chance to get behind the wheel of his new R5 Ford Fiesta.
There were a couple of teething problems, however, but once those were ironed out there was no holding him and co-driver Stephen O’Hanlon back.
“It was my first time in an R5 car,” he explained. “It’s unbelievable. It’s really, really fun to drive. It’s relatively forgiving and fun.
“We were unfortunate through the year with breakdowns and whatnot, so to get a class win is great.
“We had problems through the first six stages with the turbo and when we got it fixed it was a different beast. We were down on power, but then we got it sorted and it was a different car.”
In difficult wet and slippy conditions, Wray initially struggled on the first loop of three stages after selecting the wrong tyres. Once rectified, the local car dealer, who had Kieran McGrath on the notes, was back to top form.
“We had a bit of a mess up on the first loop, we chose the wrong tyres so we lost about a minute,” he acknowledged.
“We changed the tyres after that and over the next three stages the car worked far better and we improved by a minute over the full loop and we weren’t going full at it.
“It was a good overall result considering what happened at the start.”
A HOST of North Tyrone crews are eagerly awaiting the first stage of Omagh Motor Club’s McKelvey Asbestos & Construction Ltd Buswhacker Rally today when they will take on the well-known stages around Killeter and Lough Braden, while servicing will be accommodated within Aghyaran GAA grounds.
Martin Cairns and Peter Ward are the top seeded local crew and they will be in action in their Ford Fiesta WRC directly in front of Omagh Motor Club’s Fivemiletown Rally sponsor, Martynas Samsonas, who has travelled from Lithuania to compete in his newly transformed four-wheel-drive BMW.
Following Samsonas on the road are Donemana pair, Sean Devine and Niall Burns in an R5 Fiesta and they will be followed by Frank Wray’s Mitsubishi Evo and Paul Britton’s Subaru Impreza.
Castlederg men, Robert McKelvey and Andrew Bustard, in a pair of Evo’s round out the top 30, just ahead of Mark Preston and Gary Cairns in two similar Mitsubishi machines.
Strabane’s Alan Acheson and Sion Mills’ Darragh Cairns will also be in action during what is sure to be a hugely exciting and entertaining event.
The Bushwhacker Rally is the sixth round of the NI Championship and it retains its compact format of 10 stages of approximately 32 stage miles and is based at the traditional Lough Bradan and Killeter forests. Start and finish venues will be held at the Silverbirch Hotel with central servicing will be accommodated within Aghyaran GAA grounds outside Killeter.
Spectators are encouraged to use the three official viewing areas in total on the Lough Bradan and Killeter stages. Also, access to the stage start and finish areas will be restricted and the club is appealing to all spectators to obey instructions from the marshalls and event officials to assist in running a safe rally.
Further access information can be obtained in the rally programmes on the Club’s Facebook page and website – www.omaghmotorclub.co.uk.