LAST year’s winner Darren Gass in his Subaru World Rally Car heads a strong invited entry for this Orchard Motorsport Lurgan Park Rally.
Darren will have his sister Kerrie co-drivng this time, on what will be her first rally, reflecting the great family day out spirit of North Armagh Motor Club’s Lurgan Park showcase event.
Armagh man Darren, a former British Junior Rally Champion, will still be taking the rally seriously. He will be driving his recently acquired Solo Petroleum backed Subaru, which he took to victory on the ALMC Stages. Darren commented on the run-in to the event. “I’m going to try my best to win. It won’t be easy, especially with Kenny McKinstry and some of the other top drivers in the entry.”
Fresh from the thronged rally launch at the Rushmere Shopping Centre, where he performed “demonstration runs” in his Subaru, 11 times Lurgan Park winner Kenny McKinstry was in upbeat mood about the event. As he enjoyed lunch in Craigavon Civic Centre hosted by the Mayor, Councillor Alan Carson, Kenny declared his intention to give the rally everything. He hopes to not only round up his number of wins to a dozen, but also to capture the lion’s share of the re-introduced £2500 prize fund.
Third in the list of fifty invited drivers is multiple Circuit of Ireland winner Derek McGarrity in his Subaru. Derek missed out on winning last year’s event by a whisker and he is out to redress the balance this time. But then all the drivers in the various classes will be out to prove a point. The exciting Escort Challenge contenders will be no exception, and are headed by Wesley Patterson, Adrian Hetherington and Mickey Conlon in their respective ‘Mk2’s’.
A big point of interest on the rally will be the appearance of seven times Circuit of Ireland winner Jimmy McRae, driving a stunning 5 litre, 380hp Chevrolet Camaro engined Firenza. XS Racing will run the Firenza, and they will also launch a new F1000 Rally Championship in the Park, featuring the new Chevrolet Spark and young F1000 Junior Champion driver Cameron Davies.
In addition there will be an historic section on the rally, an appearance by the iconic rally cars of the ‘Slowly Sideways Club’, and a huge display of Rally Sport clothing by Event Sponsor, Orchard Motorsport.
Although there are several female co-drivers in the event, there is just one driver listed, Emma McKinstry. Banbridge based Emma will drive one her father Kenny’s Subaru Impreza WRC’s. Former works Peugeot driver Garry Jennings from Kesh is the top GpN seed in his Lancer, with Irish Forestry Champion Pat O’Connell from Cashel in Tipperary the 2nd GpN seed and he rounds off the top ten. Gilford’s Mark Doyle has Bobby Campbell co-driving in his Celica GT4. Bobby co-drove the late Bertie Law to victory in 1984.
As well as backing from Brian Stinson’s Armagh based company, Orchard Motorsport, the rally enjoys the support of Craigavon Borough Council, and that includes the use of the beautiful Lurgan Park. Once again the central paddock area in the Park will provide a social focal point as well as the scene of some frantic activity as the cars are refettled between the 8 special stages. This will be the 32nd running of the rally in Lurgan Park.