A number of well known rally drivers joined organisers and special guests at the historic Guildhall Square in Londonderry on Tuesday for the launch of the 2016 John Mulholland Motors Ulster Rally.
This year’s event takes place on Friday and Saturday, August 19-20 centred at Ebrington Square in Londonderry, with stages throughout County Londonderry.
The Ulster Rally is celebrating its 40th anniversary, and with a number of new special stages the event lines up with the newly formed FIA European Rally Trophy (Celtic Trophy), the return of the British Rally Championship as well as the highly popular Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Championship and the McGrady Insurance MSA Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship.
Entries for the event are now open and the organisers, the Northern Ireland Motor Club Ltd anticipate a top line up of local and International competitors and a host of Irish and Northern Ireland Rally Championship frontrunners.
Also included in this year’s Ulster Rally programme is the popular Historic section and the recently introduced Junior category which will be incorporated into the Saturday afternoon stages.
Scrutineering will be held at Ebrington on Thursday, August 18 with the Ceremonial Start at Guildhall Square at 1pm the following day and Rally HQ is also at Ebrington Square.
In previous years the event has attracted around 20,000 spectators, visitors, officials, and competitors from Ireland, the UK and further afield and generates about £1 million for the local economy.
The event will be broadcast on TV, both locally and nationally and will be followed by millions throughout the world.
Ulster Rally Clerk of Course Gary Milligan is excited about this year’s new home at Ebrington;
“It is an honour to be at such a prestigious venue as the Guild Hall to launch the 2016 John Mulholland Motors Ulster Rally,” he said,.
“Cathal Curley was the winner of the very first Ulster Rally way back in 1976 in a Porsche 911 so it’s fitting that we are in Derry/Londonderry, 40 years later, to launch the 2016 event.
“We have the ideal event base at Ebrington Square and as rally fans know from previous Ulster Rallies, the area is well stocked with classic and challenging stages.
“But it’s not just the venue and stages that make these events, the stars of the event are the drivers, co-drivers and their cars and this year’s Ulster Rally promises a fantastic array of machinery crossing the start ramp in the Guildhall Square at lunchtime on Friday 19 th August.
“We especially welcome the re-vamped British Rally Championship back onto the Ulster Rally stages and we are looking forward to the battle for supremacy between the R5 cars in the British series and the Irish Tarmac Championship regulars and we are hopeful that our local home-grown talent will again be fighting for pole position in their respective categories in all the major championships included in this year’s event.
“It’s always a challenge moving to a new venue, but with the support of our new sponsors Derry City and Strabane District Council and John Mulholland Motors, along with the Tourism NI, our local stage sponsors and our many hundreds of volunteers, we believe we have all the right ingredients to make the 40th Ulster Rally the best one yet.”