The Todd’s Leap Ulster Rally gets into gear on Friday with the start from Castle Coole on the outskirts of Enniskillen, the island town having proved a popular centre for what has become one of the best organised rallies in these islands.
A key element missing from this years event, it is not a round of the British RallyChampionship and the reason, there is no such a series this year.
The Ulster Rally has been for many years a key ingredient to the British Rally Championship which to be fair has been in decline but we are promised a new look series in 2016. The good news for the followers of the sport is that the Northern Ireland Motor Club is pleased to announce that the Ulster Rally has been included in the draft calendar for the revamped 2016 MSA British Rally Championship.
The Ulster Rally has been the recipient of the ‘Best Event Award’ in the British Rally Championship in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013. The Championship organisers, International Motor Sports confirmed earlier in the year that when the series returns to action next year it will feature four wheel drive machinery in its leading classes, supported by a strong two wheel drive class structure for career-minded drivers.
Commenting on this development, Ulster Rally Clerk of the Course Gary Milligan said: “We are very proud and are keen to continue our long association with the BRC so it is great to get the confirmation that the Ulster Rally has been included in the draft 2016 MSA British Rally Championship calendar.
“This provides encouragement to all the volunteers who come together to make the event such a success.”
While the usual number of competitors who have contested the British series in past years may be largely missing, this can not take away from the excellent entry that has been received for this weekend.
The Ulster Rally is an important counter in the Clonakilty Black Pudding Tarmac Rally Championship, the premier series in Ireland and the Northern Ireland Rally Championship.
In the battle for Tarmac points, Donagh Kelly is on 60 with Sam Moffett on 40 and last weekend Moffett used a southern based event as a warm up for the Ulster Rally, a driver to watch with his Ford Fiesta World Rally Car. One driver more than any other competing this weekend who wants to climb on the top spot of the podium come Saturday evening is Garry Jennings.
A superb performance from start to finish saw Jennings take his second victory on the Joule Donegal International Rally.
Kesh based Jennings would dearly to win his home event and if he can repeat the form from Donegal he must surely be the driver to beat. A win this weekend would see him score the triple, adding to his 2013 and 2014 victories.
Looking to the future of the sport of rallying the organisers of the Ulster Rally have confirmed the addition of a new Junior section to this year’s programme.
The current crop of young Irish rally talent will get the opportunity to compete alongside some of their motorsport heroes as they fight it out for the honour of top Junior over six classic Ulster stages tomorrow on the second leg of the two day event.
Junior competitors will be able to score points in the hotly contested Clonakilty Black Pudding Irish Tarmac Junior Championship. The competitors in the main event have twelve stages with the first car starting from Castle Coole at 3.50pm this afternoon and the winner will mount the rostrum at St.Angelo Airfield tomorrow afternoon at 5.30pm.