For the third year in succession McGrady Insurance have announced their sponsorship of the MSA ANICC McGrady Insurance Northern Ireland Rally Championship. It is once again a major boost for the premier rally series in Northern Ireland, which has conceived back in 1977, and marks the sixth time that Fintan McGrady and his team have backed the championship, the association initially starting in the mid 90’s.
“It’s great to be supporting the Northern Ireland Rally Championship once again” said Fintan. “It suits our business profile and it gives us a chance to support people that support us during the year. It’s an excellent series, which I think is second to none, with good quality events more or less on your door-step.” Fintan and McGrady Insurance director Aidan Hughes were present to announce the 2016 sponsorship, and indeed that the McGrady Insurance Rally Team will be contesting the series, with Fintan at the wheel of his potent 2.5 litre Millington MK2 Escort. With previous 2 litre class titles and an overall two-wheel drive title in the N.I championship, Fintan is relishing the challenge, especially with his car now handling to his liking.
There is quite a challenge for the drivers, co-driver’s and teams this year. Starting on the 13th February at Kirkistown, the championship moves to the fabulous Circuit of Ireland event, held in April. The Tour of the Sperrins is returning to gravel after many years on tarmac, whilst the Mourne Rally makes a welcome return to the championship. A new addition in 2015, the Tyrone Stages also returns, before the two day Ulster Rally, the Bushwhacker Rally in the Omagh forests, and the finale on the closed roads of County Down. Andy Gilmore, chairman of the ANICC Rallies Committee feels the championship provides a unique challenge. “It’s about variety. From the first event which is race-track based, to the closed roads, tarmac forest drives and the forests, it offers a mix of terrain for the crews.” The experienced Alan Bolton is the new co-ordinator for the championship, with competitors registrations already flowing in steadily.
Three times champion Kenny McKinstry agrees. “I’ve always enjoyed the series, and the rallies are great events in their own right. I’m not sure whether I’ll contest all of the rounds, but I’d love to see Emma contest the whole series, and indeed for more young drivers to have success in it.” Davy Greer from Carryduff Forklift, who put up that magnificent prize within the NI series for the R2 Road to Wales in 2015 also showed his on-going support. The prize-drive DGM Sport Citroen DS3 R3 driven by Road to Wales series winner Rob Duggan on the WRC Rally GB event, was proudly on display to help kick off 2016.
Marshals are a vital and important part of any rally, and with the new MSA registration scheme, the importance of their role is emphasised. As a kind gesture for their services to the sport, McGrady Insurance has offered a free marshals bib and beanie hat to those marshals who e-mail a copy of their MSA registration certificate to firstname.lastname@example.org. The items will be available for collection at NI Championship events.