A host of Rally stars joined organisers and special guests in the stately grandeur of the Castle Coole Estate to launch the 2014 Todds Leap Ulster Rally.
The event, which will return to Fermanagh for a second year will again play host to all the best drivers and cars from across the UK, Ireland and beyond, and an action packed extravaganza is expected by race fans on August 15 and 16.
Backed by title sponsor Todds Leap, Fermanagh District Council, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and a number of local businesses, the award winning two day event offers a race line-up to cater for all the premier British and Irish Rally Championships including the MSA British Rally Championship and BRC Challenge, the Irish Tarmac, MSA British and Irish Historic and the Northern Ireland Rally Championships.
Ulster Rally Clerk of Course Lewis Boyd paid tribute to the local competitors and key event partners adding: “It is again very satisfying to be here at Castle Coole in Fermanagh to launch the 2014 Ulster Rally.
“This time last year we celebrated a win for Alistair Fisher and Gordon Noble at the Scottish Rally. This year they are returning from a fantastic 2nd place in the Junior World Rally Championship event in Poland and its Daniel McKenna who celebrates a Scottish victory to strengthen his lead of the British Rally Championship. I believe that Co. Fermanagh, and its neighbouring counties, continue to be the perfect location for this year’s event. We have to thank everyone who help make it all possible especially the enthusiastic support of Todds Leap, Fermanagh District Council and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and I look forward, with their help, to the safe running of this event on 15th and 16th of August.”
2012 NITB award winner, Todds Leap, the activity, conference and training centre is once again backing the race as title sponsor.
Managing Director Benny O’Hanlon said: “Todds Leap is pleased to be sponsoring the Ulster Rally for the seventh consecutive year.
“As Northern Ireland’s number one activity centre we are totally dedicated and committed to backing regional events which support the tourist trade and the local economy. The Todds Leap Ulster Rally attracts thousands of spectators to Northern Ireland each year and reaches a wider global audience, show casing the region at its sporting best. Todds Leap is looking forward to another successful rally and we wish the organisers, participants and supporters all the best for what will be a thrilling event.”
Welcoming the return of the event to Enniskillen, Chairman of Fermanagh District Council, Bert Johnston, said; “Fermanagh District Council is delighted to support the 2014 Ulster Rally. County Fermanagh is internationally renowned for its motorsport heritage and we look forward to welcoming rally drivers, crews, officials and spectators from across Europe to the Fermanagh Lakelands in August. We wish everyone involved a safe and enjoyable rally.”
Entries for the event are just about to open and the organisers, Northern Ireland Motor Club Ltd anticipate a top line up of local and international competitors including Scottish Rally winner McKenna, last year’s Rally NI winner Osian Pryce, Jon Armstrong and a host of British and Northern Ireland Rally Championship frontrunners.
The Irish Tarmac Championship will be well represented with current Championship leading driver, and recent Donegal Rally winning cousins Declan & Brian Boyle, Killarney winner Sam Moffett along with previous Championship winners Garry Jennings, Derek McGarrity and a multitude of other WRC cars expected to return to do battle. Also included in the Ulster Rally programme is the popular Historic section from both the British and the Irish Historic Championships.
The Enniskillen area has enjoyed a prominent place in the history of the Ulster Rally, having hosted the traditional Saturday morning breakfast halt in Ballinamallard during the 1980’s and 1990’s, and after the success of last year’s event, which won the ‘Best British Championship Event Award’ for the fourth time in the last five years, the organisers are delighted to be returning to the Fermanagh Lakelands.
The Todds Leap Ulster Rally encompasses 130 competitive miles over 15 stages in the Fermanagh and Tyrone regions. Set to kick off at lunchtime on Friday 15th August with a ceremonial start in Enniskillen town centre, the rally finishes back in the town centre on Saturday from 4pm.
This year will also see the return of the family friendly Spectator Special stage and other attractions at the St. Angelo Airport complex along with the event’s Central Service Park – all within easy reach of Enniskillen town centre. Rally HQ will be based at the Belmore Court & Motel and the organisers expect 300 drivers and co-drivers, supported by over 600 service crew, to be competing in up to 150 rally cars over the two day period.
For the last number of years the event has attracted over 10,000 spectators, visitors, officials, and competitors from Ireland, the UK and further afield and generated in access of half a million pounds for the local economy each year. It’s also set to be broadcast on local TV, nationally and on global networks reaching 850 homes worldwide.