County Monaghan’s Stephen Wright has been confirmed as the 2019 McGrady Insurance Motorsport UK Northern Ireland Stage Rally Champion!
After claiming two rally victories during the 2019 season, as well as a handful of podium finishes, he secured the trophy after finishing the year on equal points with the outgoing champion, Derek McGarrity.
But it was Wright who got the nod on the tie-break, courtesy of his higher number of second-placed finishes, and the County Monaghan man is the first driver from the Republic of Ireland to have secured Northern Ireland’s most prestigious rally accolade.
“Taking on any championship was not on my radar at the start of the year but the competitor friendly format and variety that each event offered in the Northern Ireland Championship kept bringing me back,” a delighted Wright said.
The 2019 series was brought to a premature end when Mid Antrim Motor Club was forced to cancel November’s final round of the series due to a lack of entries. That left Wright, who won at Kirkistown in February and at the Down Rally in July, as the new N.I. Champion.
Glengormley’s Derek McGarrity had to settle for the runner-up position on this occasion after coming close to a record ninth title, with Derek McGeehan – who led the series for much of the year – in third.
However, Draperstown’s McGeehan can take some consolation from the results given that his son, Mark, has secured the Navigators’ Championship title. It was 21-year-old Mark’s maiden season reading pace notes and he helped to keep his father on the straight and narrow throughout all seven events, handing him the prestigious trophy at the end of the year.
In the battle for the two-wheel-drive championship, Banbridge’s John Devlin managed to snatch the trophy from James Kennedy’s grasp by four points after a tit-for-tat battle between the two drivers.
Meanwhile, in Group N, Beragh’s Adam Vance secured the award in his maiden season while Belfast’s Kyle White picked up the Junior title and Saintfield’s Drew Wylie sealed the Historic trophy.
Other class winners include:
Class 1: Adam Vance (Beragh) / David Vance (Beragh)
Class 2: Colm McFall (Ballycastle) / Ronnie Craig (Ballycastle)
Class 3: Mark Faulkner (Ballygowan) / Steven McCrossan (Omagh)
Class 4: Kyle White (Belfast) / Sean Topping (Banbridge)
Class 5: Marc Johnston (Enniskillen) / Olivia Coulter (Crumlin)
Class 6: John Devlin (Banbridge) / John McCarthy (Dublin)
Class 7: Niall Carey (Cushendall) / Ciaran Carey (Magheralin)
Class 8: Mark Massey (Belfast)
Class 9: Derek McGarrity (Glengormley) / Mark McGeehan (Draperstown)
Class 10: Drew Wylie (Saintfield) / Noel Watt (Ballymoney)
Final championship standings have now been confirmed and are available for download from nirallychampionship.com. Award winners will be presented with their prizes at the Association of Northern Ireland Car Club’s awards ceremony on Saturday 18 January in Armagh City Hotel.