The Todds Leap Ulster Rally which takes place on Friday and Saturday has attracted an entry of 145, just eight short of the highest ever total received last year.
This year the action switches to Counties Fermanagh and South Tyrone and the battle for the Ulster Rally crown is expected to be keenly contested between current Irish Tarmac Championship leader Garry Jennings, fresh from his victory in Lurgan Park, Donegal International Rally winner Sam Moffett, his brother Josh, Tour of the Sperrins Rally victor, Donagh Kelly, Derek McGarrity and Declan Boyle all set to do battle on testing new special stages.
The main runners in the British Rally Championship, include second placed local man Alastair Fisher, Omagh’s Pirelli Star Driver Mark Donnelly, Portglenone’s Desi Henry and Carryduff’s Jonny Greer, all have entered alongside championship leader, Finland’s Jukka Korhonen and Welsh drivers Tom Cave and Osian Pryce, all of whom will aim to take the Rally NI title.
Also keen to display their talents in Rally NI will be Ford Fiesta drivers, Kesh teenager Jon Armstrong, Enniskillen’s Timothy Cathcart and Monaghan’s Daniel McKenna.
The Ulster Historic Rally always provides local motorsport fans with a feast for the eyes and the ears, with a host of classic vehicles and their drivers rolling back the years.
The Ford Escorts of Wesley Patterson, Ryan Barrett, Ernie Graham and Drew Wylie are expected to set the pace alongside the likes of Roy Smith in a Porsche 911 and Steve Perez in his Lancia Stratos.
The Ulster National Rally has attracted the largest entry of the five events, which make up the Todds Leap Ulster Rally.
Spectators will be in for a treat with Moy’s Frank Kelly back to defend his title in his spectacular Mk II Ford Escort.
His challengers include Draperstown duo Camillus Bradley and Derek McGeehan, Dungannon’s Paddy McVeigh, Fergus O’Meara, Keith White and Trevor Ferguson.
The Ulster Challenge Rally, which is a support event to the British Rally Championship, has also attracted a top list of entries, with defending champion, Richard Sykes, expected to be fiercely challenged by Russ Thompson and Ross Hunter, while Irish youngsters, Dean Raftery and Jonni McDaid, will be keen to make their mark on the event.
The special stages selected all offer something different. From the tight ‘Widow Magee’ outside Omagh, the exciting ‘Topped Mountain’ near Enniskillen, ‘Sloughan Glen’, which was used for WRC event Rally Ireland, the spectacular ‘Mallabeny Hill’, ‘Carren Bridge’ and ‘Fardross’; there will be a lot of tarmac tackled and spectacular action seen.
And on both days, there is the Modern Tyres Spectator Special Stage and Service Park at St Angelo Airfield, just outside Enniskillen, which will allow the fans to get up close and personal with the action.
Spectators will have the chance to get up close and personal with the drivers, the cars and the action this year as organisers have designed the Spectator Special Stage at St Angelo Airfield, just outside Enniskillen.
Backed by title sponsor Todds Leap, Fermanagh District Council, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, the Fisher Foundation and a number of local businesses, the award winning two day event caters 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.