News 2019-04-06 - McGeehans Increase NI Championship Lead!

Father & Son - Derek & Mark lead the NI Rally Championship.
The McGeehan Motorsport team were back in action at the Eakin Bros Brian James Trailers Stages Rally and it was another successful day as Derek and Mark McGeehan increased their lead in the McGrady Insurance Northern Ireland Rally Championship!

Based in Strabane with stages near Donemana, the six-stage closed road event featured another strong entry with a variety of World Rally Car and R5 machinery set to do battle at the third round of the hotly contested championship.

Derek & Mark McGeehan - BMW Mini WRC
The father and son McGeehan team were back out in their trusty Mini WRC and they were immediately on the pace. It was the first time that Mark had read pace notes for his father on closed roads but they gelled immediately to set a stunning second fastest time on the rally opener.

It was a great start to the event for the joint-championship leaders but unfortunately, their momentum was slowed by a 20-second time penalty for arriving late at a stage two time control. They dropped to 10th overall and Derek arrived into service a little bit flustered.

"The timing for the road sections is very tight," he said. "We were stuck behind other vehicles."

Derek & Mark McGeehan - BMW Mini WRC
The crew opted to query the time penalty in the hope it would later be quashed and after giving their Mini a spanner check, they were ready to begin their comeback drive.

Fourth fastest time through stage three combined with a strong run through stage four raised them up to seventh overall and in striking distance of sixth with two stages remaining. However, that penalty still loomed over them.

After another spanner check, the final two stages lay in wait. Derek and Mark headed out with a renewed determination and third fastest time on stage five raised them up to sixth overall.

They stayed in that position after the final stage but now that time penalty became more important than ever - it made the difference between finishing sixth overall and finishing third.

With no sign of the penalty being removed, they headed to the rally office to state their case where the event officials, unfortunately, decided that the penalty should be applied. As a result, the crew were confirmed as sixth overall finishers.

Derek and Mark were disappointed not to regain their podium position but the result allowed them to extend their Northern Ireland Rally Championship lead. Having entered the event as joint leaders, they now head the standings by more than 20 points!

Derek & Mark McGeehan - BMW Mini WRC
Feeney in a Spin!

Nigel Feeney didn't really know what to expect from the Maiden City Stages event. It was only his second closed-road event in around nine years so the rally was always going to be a baptism of fire as he acclimatised to Mini WRC power on Northern Ireland's twisty, bumpy lanes.

Navigated by Conor Duffy, the crew used the opening loop of stages to settle in before gradually upping their pace. They were just outside the top 30 after stage two and started to go on the attack over the second loop.

Nigel Feeney & Conor Duffy - BMW Mini WRC
They climbed into 27th overall after stage three but then their challenge almost unravelled with a massive moment during the fourth Test!

"I think our suspension is set too soft and we bottomed out on some bumps," Feeney revealed afterwards. "We had a massive sixth gear spin down a narrow road and then I couldn't get the car back into first gear."

Nigel Feeney & Conor Duffy - BMW Mini WRC
Their Mini WRC completed one and a half rotations during the incident but they came away largely unscathed with just a little bit of panel damage.

"My navigator got out of the car to slow down other competitors while I tried to turn the car around," Feeney added. "We must have lost about two minutes."

Nigel Feeney & Conor Duffy - BMW Mini WRC
The incident dropped the crew to 60th overall but both Nigel and Conor breathed a huge sigh of relief as they reached service. They gathered themselves together and went back out for the final loop of stages where they set top 20 stage times to recover to 43rd overall before the finish.

It wasn't the result they were hoping for but after that scary stage four incident, they were simply happy to reach the end of the event regardless of their finishing position!

McGeehan Motorsport Service Area
McGeehan Motorsport Service Area

Published on  August 14th, 2019