The Todds Leap Ulster Rally gets into gear on Friday afternoon – one of the most popular rallies in these islands which is highly regarded for its top class organisation.
It is little wonder that the organisers have received a full entry which is aided by the fact that a number of championships are included, such as the British Rally Championship and the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship.
A good deal of local attention no doubt will focus on the ongoing battle in the Tarmac series.
Declan Boyle is currently heading the points table but he will face fierce competition from last year’s Ulster winner Garry Jennings and worth keeping a close watch on the progress of Donagh Kelly.
Making a return is three times winner Eugene Donnelly who will drive a Subaru Impreza S14 and the Group N challenge is led by Josh Moffitt in his Mitsubishi Lancer and Irish Championship category leader Stephen McCann.
There was disappointment a few weeks ago that there will not be a British Rally Championship next season, but for now series leader Daniel McKenna, last year’s Rally NI winner Osian Pryce and local ace Timothy Cathcart, lead the Citroen assault ahead of a number of young Irish drivers including Jon Armstrong, Stephen Wright and Dean Rafftery.
A huge interest continues with Historic rallying and rally fans have a treat in store with a host of classic vehicles and their drivers rolling back the years. The Ford Escorts of Will Onions, Stanley Orr, Denis Moynihan and David Stokes will do battle with locals Raymond Johnston and Seamus O’Connell for the category honours and one of the all time greats of the sport Jimmy McRae will compete behind the wheel of a Vauxhall Firenza and British Historic Championship front runner Dessie Nutt will be in a Porsche 911.
The Ulster National Rally not surprisingly has attracted a large entry. Heading the charge is NI Championship leader Derek McGarrity in his Mini WRC.
He will be joined by Alan Carmichael in another Mini WRC and Paddy McVeigh in a Subaru Impreza WRC.
Frank Kelly is back to catch the eye in his spectacular ‘Baby Blue’ Mk II Ford Escort, which he took to victory in 2012, and he can expect stiff competition from Wesley Patterson, Alistair Cochrane, Declan Gallagher and Shane McGirr to name just a few.
Spectators will have the chance to get up close and personal with the drivers, the cars and the action again this year as organisers have designed the Lakeland Tyres Spectator Special Stage at St Angelo Airfield, just outside Enniskillen.
With 130 competitive miles over 15 special stages in the Fermanagh and Tyrone regions and it is a lunchtime ceremonial start in Enniskillen town, finishing at the Spectator Special Stage and Service Park Base at St Angelo Airport Complex tomorrow afternoon. Rally HQ will be based at the Belmore Court Motel, Enniskillen.