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Ulster International Rally / Rally NI - 17-18 Aug 12

Posted: August 29, 2012 9:30 PM - 22987 Hits

Round 5 - 2012 Tarmac Rally Championship
Round 8 - 2012 Northern Ireland Rally Championship
Round 5 - 2012 British Rally Championship
Round 6 - 2012 MSA British Historic Rally Championship

BRC Video Report

Posted: August 29, 2012 9:30 PM

Video Clips

Posted: August 29, 2012 9:24 PM





In Car (BRC / ITC)

Posted: August 29, 2012 8:24 PM

Adrian Mc Elhinney / Damien Mc Elhinney (Citroen C2 R2) SS10


In Car (National + Challenge)

Posted: August 29, 2012 8:17 PM

Frank Kelly / Russell Harold (Ford Escort Mk II) SS12


Jon Armstrong / Martin Brady (Ford Fiesta ST) SS10


Gary Owens / Denver Rafferty (Ford Escort Mk2) SS4



Camillus Bradley / Crawford Henderson (Ford Escort Mk II) SS12


In Car (Historics)

Posted: August 29, 2012 8:06 PM

Mark Falvey / Ronald Riordan (Ford Escort Mk I RS1600) SS10


Ernie & Will Graham (Ford Escort) SS1


Richard Morgan / Jim Hill (Porsche 914)


James Slaughter / Gregory Roberts (Ford Escort MkII RS 1800) SS2

Twingos all tied-up on tarmac

Posted: August 29, 2012 9:31 AM

Two Twingo Renaultsport Trophy UK champions emerged from the penultimate round of the 2012 season, as the closed public roads of the Todds Leap International Rally NI echoed to the sounds of the little French pocket rockets this weekend.

20 year-old Scotsman Garry Pearson made absolutely sure of the Twingo R1 Trophy title with another mature drive in the near-standard category. Not only did he finish atop the R1 class, but he secured a top ten place in the MSA British Rally Championship event and with it his first points of the season for Renault UK.

To cap what was a near-perfect weekend for the youngster from Duns, his MSA British Junior Rally Championship rival Steve Røkland faltered with two stages remaining, handing the coveted title to the Borders driver and his co-driver Craig Wallace.

Victory means that he will drive a Twingo R2 Evo on the final round of the French Rally Championship in November. The all asphalt Rallye du Var is based close to Saint Tropez on the Mediterranean coast and is a round of several French and Italian Renault one make series.

18 year-old Chris Ingram also claimed victory in the Twingo Renaultsport R2 Trophy UK by virtue of crossing the start line of the testing asphalt-surface event. With rival Nick Allen absent after a huge crash diverted his Ulster budget, the youngster from Cheshire was guaranteed of his prize-drive by starting the rally, but wanted to show what he has learnt in this first season of multi-venue rallies.

Experienced local co-driver Stephen McAuley took Ieuan Thomas’ place, as the Welshman had unavoidable commitments, but the new relationship worked well and the pair climbed the leaderboard steadily on day one. However Saturday’s slippery conditions caught out the youngster, sliding wide on a fast corner to end upside down in the undergrowth.

The car eventually emerged hours later miraculously unscathed and neither driver nor co-driver was injured, a slice of Chris’s pride taking the brunt of the damage. Another youngster showing maturity beyond his years though, the youngster admitted that it was a momentary lapse in concentration that had caused his untimely exit.

Although not registered, heading the Twingo charge was double British Rally Champion Guy Wilks. Driving Renault Sport Technologies’ own car run by Monster Sport Europe, he was partnered by Irishman David Moynihan and ran as high as sixth place amongst the BRC runners until the final stage.

Having complimented the car’s strong engine, it was a gearbox oil leak that eventually robbed the 2007 & 2008 champion of a good result on this one-off guest appearance in the 192 horsepower machine. The crew stopped before the final stage when oil leaked past a driveshaft seal and caused a small fire – a sensible but frustrating end to the event.

Twingo Renaultsport R1 Trophy UK Champion driver Garry Pearson said:
“It is a brilliant end to a brilliant event; the only problem we had during the rally was that the service van wouldn’t start. It is just a shame that we couldn’t show the car’s real potential because we knew that all we had to do was get to the finish.

“I had a push here and there and it definitely put a smile on my face, but the prospect of missing out on the drive in France kept me in check. I’m really looking forward to getting behind the wheel of my prize-drive Twingo R2 Evo on the twisty mountain roads.”

Twingo Renaultsport R2 Trophy UK Champion driver Chris Ingram said:
“I’m annoyed at myself that such a tiny mistake could cost us a good finish, particularly after our result on the Circuit of Ireland earlier in the year. We weren’t on Guy’s pace, but never expected to be, but he did comment on how well I was driving in my first season in the car. That was a great boost to my confidence.

“I’m really looking forward to Rallye du Var in the Clio R3; it will be another steep learning curve, but that’s what this year is all about. It is a great opportunity to see another event outside the BRC, but I think the pace will be just as hot, as there are plenty of tarmac specialist drivers out there.”

Double British Rally Champion Guy Wilks said:
“The Twingo Evo has loads of potential and I think with a small amount of development for conditions in the UK it could be brilliant. The main thing is that the engine, gearbox and brakes are excellent. OK we had a problem, but that can happen to any car on any event and we could probably still have finished the rally. I didn’t want to damage the car so we opted to play safe.”

“The Twingo series are great, particularly the concept of moving from R1 to R2 and eventually moving up to the Clio R3. It is basically the route that I took when I was starting out and I’d recommend that kind of progression to anyone.”

Determined performance keeps BRC title hopes alive for Tom Cave

Posted: August 29, 2012 9:29 AM

A determined performance on a challenging Ulster International Rally for Welsh rally driver Tom Cave last weekend means this year's MSA British Rally Championship title will go down to the wire, with Tom still in the running. Technical issues with his Citroen DS3 R3 at the beginning and end of the event meant that Tom, and co-driver Craig Parry, finished 6th overall and is now third in the BRC standings, just four points behind joint leaders Keith Cronin and Elfyn Evans.

Tom's issues on the second tarmac event of the season began early. Despite never having contested the event, he was in full swing but after a small spin on the first stage, could not select reverse gear and was stationary for more than 20 seconds as he tried to get the car pointing the right way.

It eventually went in but the damage was done - Tom and Craig were 20th overall. However, they attacked the remaining five stages on Friday evening and by the end of the first leg, had clawed their way back up to sixth overall.

They began the second day of the event in the same manner, setting a string of top five stage times and claiming the win on the event's penultimate stage, to come within 0.7 seconds of a podium position.

However, there was a late sting in the tail for the team. The Citroen refused to fire as it prepared to leave the finale service of the event, following a diagnosed alternator issue. Despite the efforts of the Davies Motorsport Services team and the attending Citroen engineer, Tom and Craig picked up a 50 second penalty for leaving service late and still, the engine would cut out if Tom removed his foot from the accelerator.

The penalty dropped them from 4th to sixth by the end of the event, meaning they now hold third in the BRC standings, four points behind the joint leaders, with one round to go.

Commenting, Tom said;
"It was a pretty disappointing weekend, all told. We spun on the first stage, which was annoying but then, couldn't get reverse and spent 24 seconds stationary as we tried to get the car back on the road.

"We dropped to 20th after the first stage but started the second day in 6th, so I was quite pleased with the pace. We were pushing on for the second day but had an issue on the final service. There looked like an electrical issue - the engine would fire but cut out immediately unless I kept my foot on the accelerator. The Citroen engineer spent five minutes trying to sort it out and in the end, we had to leave and drive round it.

"The ECU has been sent off for inspection and I'm sure it'll be fine for the next event.

"It looks like the last round, Rally Yorkshire, will be interesting. Elfyn and Keith tied on points and us just behind them and 50% extra points on offer, so it's all to play for!"

The final round of the MSA British Rally Championship takes place on 28/29 September and looks likely to be a three-way fight for the 2012 title.

Citroen Racing Trophy Ireland Victory for Carney On The Ulster International

Posted: August 28, 2012 1:22 PM

The penultimate round of the Citroen Racing Trophy Ireland, took place on the Ulster International Rally. It was a drama filled event for the C2 R2 Max mounted runners, who were competing against the best of the British Rally Championship driver’s in the R2 class. Mayo’s David Carney took his second victory of the season, with series leader Kevin O’Connor in second despite taking the majority of fastest stage times. Adrian McElhinney took third and he too lead at one point in this see-saw battle.

The opening Knockboy stage saw David Carney take the jump, 1.8 seconds faster than Adrian McElhinney, and a full 17.3 seconds faster than Kevin O’Connor.
“That first stage wasn’t good” commented Kevin. “I was nervous before the start, something I’m not usually, but I guess I had competing against all of the top British driver’s in my head and I was far too cautious on the first stage. That was certainly my own fault, but our luck didn’t get much better after that.” Indeed after three stages David Carney had a 1.7 second advantage over Adrian McElhinney, making his return to the Trophy for this event, with Kevin O’Connor 14.8 seconds behind, despite a car which wouldn’t rev above 6000rpm on the second half of the Glendun stage, the problem being traced to a throttle body plug which had vibrated loose. Newcomer to the series James Ford was next up, after a good stage time on Glendun, moving ahead of Steve Wood who was now fifth.

On stage times at the end of the day’s six stages, it was Kevin O’Connor who led overnight, by exactly 10 seconds, but a minute road penalty was incurred for being late at the final service. The C2 was pushed into the Junction One service area after a misunderstanding translating the fuel usage figures, meant that it had run out of fuel. So it was Carney who led, by 9.6 seconds from last year’s champion, Adrian McElhinney who had his cousin Damien on the notes, O’Connor third, James Ford fourth on his first ever Irish rally, and Steve Wood in fifth. Steve however had suffered a front right puncture on Torr Head, running over a rock in the middle of the road that was displaced by one of the leading WRC cars. The time loss was seven minutes, the car even slipping off the jack at one point, and it wasn’t the best of events for Steve and co-driver Johnny Baird, with clutch and throttle issues on the second day. Steve’s persistence however looks to have almost secured the Welsh driver third place in the series this season.

Onto day two and Adrian McElhinney moved into the lead immediately on the opening Langford Lodge stage, but David Carney replied on the following Tardree test and re-took the lead in what was shaping up to be a great battle.

It was nearly all over in Tardree for Kevin O’Connor whose C2 arrived at the stage finish with the bonnet peeled right back. “It was a tight second gear left into a square right corner, and we got round the left ok, but on the right hander there was a lot of mud. We slid on and went into a gate, and luckily the gate stopped us from hitting a farmer’s shed. We were extremely lucky however in respect that the bonnet took most of it, and that the radiator was intact. It could have so easily been the end of our rally, and really it cost us any chance of a win.”

The ding-dong battle continued however, as Adrian McElhinney promptly put the yellow C2 back in front on the following Lisnamuck test, and extended it to 12.5 seconds after the long Slieve Gallion stage. Kevin O’Connor was now one minute and twelve seconds off the lead. By the end of stage 12 the second run over Tardree, David Carney had closed the gap back down to 5.8 seconds, Adrian perhaps being a little distracted, by of all things a streaker running alongside the stage!

All would change on stage 13, which was to prove unlucky for McElhinney. He picked up and puncture on the second Lisnamuck test, dropping almost two minutes, and third place would be end result for the returning Donegal man. James Ford was delighted to finish fourth in his first season in a front wheel drive car, and Steve Wood scored those valuable points in fifth. For CRT Ireland Trophy leader Kevin O’Connor, it was another second place with one round remaining in Cork. It was to be David Carney’s rally once more however. The young Westport driver and his co- driver Ray Fitzpatrick had driven a good rally, making no mistakes, and set a fast pace once more. As he crossed the finish of the final stage, he was understandably pleased.
“Absolutely delighted” quipped David. “I drove that one there like I have never driven before.”

One round remains on the Cork 20 International, and although Kevin O’Connor is in the best position to take the series, he knows there are two tough days of rallying to complete. “It’s not over until we cross the finish line of the last stage in Cork. We need to finish to claim the Citroen Racing Trophy Ireland title, and that is our aim.” To keep up to date check www.citroenracingtrophy.com or type Citroen Racing Trophy into Face-book for more details.

BRC Rally NI classes, cups and titles

Posted: August 28, 2012 1:17 PM

MSA BRITISH MANUFACTURERS RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP

This year’s MSA British Manufacturers’ title is a three-way battle between the brands: Citroën, Renault and Ford. Scores towards the title are calculated from the two leading cars from each of the manufacturers.

With Citroën DS3 drivers Keith Cronin scoring his third victory of the season and Osian Pryce claiming his first ever BRC podium with an excellent third place, it means that Citroën UK has extended its lead in the manufacturer’s championship and currently stands on 183 points. Elfyn Evans’ stunning second place in his Ford Fiesta R2, coupled with Matthew Cathcart’s impressive sixth in his similar car, sees Ford Motor Company consolidate its second place on 151 points, whilst the lone finisher for Renault UK Garry Pearson means that they remain third on 133.

MSA BRITISH JUNIOR RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP

Underpinning the BRC’s commitment to reward its rising stars, a new-look Junior Championship has been introduced for this season. Open to drivers of 23 and under in Class 10 (R1) cars, this initiative sees the winner recognised with the prestigious title of MSA British Junior Champion.

20-year old Renault Twingo R1 driver Garry Pearson did exactly what he had to do in Ulster - and that was finish. Lying second in the Junior category until Norwegian Ford Fiesta R1 rival Steve Røkland retired with fuel problems on stage 12, Pearson from Duns was able to keep out of trouble and cross the line to win Class 10. He also claimed tenth place overall in the BRC event, secured the MSA British Junior title and secured his Twingo Trophy prize drive with one round remaining.

At the finish Pearson said: “Even though I just had to finish, it’s been a tough day. Keeping concentration when you haven’t got to drive flat out is really difficult. However, I had to make it to the finish otherwise my team and family would have killed me! I’m therefore relieved – and delighted - to become the Junior Champion in my first year with the BRC.”

Pearson’s victory also sees him become one of the finalists for the end of season Pirelli Star Driver shootout, plus he will be presented with his MSA award at the Royal Automobile Club’s prize giving ceremony in January.

PIRELLI STAR DRIVER

This year’s Pirelli Star Driver competition selects a winner from each round. Each of the six – plus the MSA Junior Champion - will then go forward to an end-of-season shootout where they have the opportunity to win a Pirelli funded prize designed to boost their progression in the sport.

So far this season the winners on each round have been: Mark Donnelly - Rallye Sunseeker, Tom Cave - Bulldog Rally of North Wales, Jussi Kumpumäki - Pirelli Rally and Matthew Cathcart - Jim Clark Rally. The winner of the yellow jersey and a nomination towards the end-of-season finale at the Todds Leap Rally NI was Osian Pryce. The Welsh youngster kept a cool head under pressure and scored his very first BRC podium with an impressive third overall.

BRC TEAMS CUP

The new-format BRC Teams Cup is aimed at professional motorsport teams running two cars. Six teams are currently registered.

Drivers are pre-nominated, but can change from event-to-event. All six rounds count towards the final championship classification, with the first of the team’s two cars scoring points.

Top-scorer in Ulster was Elfyn Evans, who’s second place in his Ford Fiesta R2 allowed M-Sport Ford to increase its lead to 96 points, with Arron Newby’s eighth place in his Skoda Fabia R2 seeing him claim fifth in the Teams’ Cup and bring second-placed Pirelli TEG Sport’s total to 80-points.

Osian Pryce’s third place on the rally meant that Davies Motorsport Services were the second highest scorers this time round, which sees the Welsh team move up another place in the standings to third on 73 points.

Likewise, AVS Motorsport jump up a place with a total of 72 points – just one behind DMS - thanks to James Grint’s gritty ninth overall. The Citroën DS3 driver collected the points in Ulster rather than the team’s regular scorer Gethin Jones, who uncharacteristically crashed his Fiesta ST on Saturday morning.

For Ford Junior Team Finland it was another unhappy event, with both its Fiestas recording DNFs for the second rally in succession. Jussi Kumpumäki was the first to retire with a spectacular exit when he rolled his car at speed on Friday’s stage two. The following day saw Niko-Pekka Nieminen end his rally with an off road excursion and consequent visit to a Northern Irish ditch, which means the team drops to fifth with a score of 49 points.

For Callum Black and the Millers Oils 586 Team, the Rally NI was a fairly uneventful affair, which is exactly what driver and team were looking for. With the event only the second with their Citroën DS3, a seventh-place finish overall gave the team an opportunity to increase their Teams’ Cup points tally to 31.

RAVENOL OILS BRC PRIVATEERS CUP

For competitors who compete outside of one of the six official teams, the Ravenol Oils BRC Privateers Cup allows 18 out of the 27 registered drivers to score points towards this recently introduced category.

Rally winner Keith Cronin was once again the highest finisher in this category, which sees him increase his lead in the standings to 14-points, ahead of Jonny Greer, whose fourth place overall allowed him to collect the second-best haul of Privateer points. Even though it was another disappointing event for Desi Henry - who had to stop and change a puncture on Friday evening and then clipped a wall and retired with a bent rear axle on Saturday evening – he still hangs on to third in the category, which means that the top three privateers all drive Citroën DS3s.

The next two drivers in the Ravenol Oils BRC Privateers Cup standings both use Renault Clios and, whilst fifth-placed Peter Taylor chose not enter the Rally NI, afterwards fourth-placed Mark Donnelly wished he had made the same decision. Having overcome the problems with his car’s gearshift and then clutch, Donnelly’s rally finally came to and end on the penultimate stage.

BRC ONE-MAKES SERIES

Citroën Racing Trophy UK

His three overall rally victories has also provided Keith Cronin with three victories in the Citroën Racing Trophy and again, the Irishman received a cheque for €6000 first prize. Cronin now leads the series on 78 points ahead of Tom Cave on 69, who finished fourth of the Citroëns on this occasion and then Osian Pryce on 66 and finished second of the DS3s in Ulster.

Fiesta SportTrophy

With his stunning performance rewarding him with second place overall, it comes as no surprise that Elfyn Evans was the quickest of the Fiesta runners. Matthew Cathcart was a more than worthy second in the FST, whilst Ruary McLeod was third, after surviving a lengthy delay when he beached his Fiesta on a grassy bank during SS3. The standings now read: Evans 100, Cathcart 69 and Jones 55 points, even though the Fiesta ST driver crashed out of the Rally NI on Saturday morning.

Twingo Renaultsport R1 & R2 Trophies UK

Chris Ingram was all set to take another maximum points haul in his Twingo Renaultsport R2 Evo in Ulster, but unfortunately it a non-finish for the 18-year old after crashing out in Saturday morning’s slippery conditions. However, with his rival Nick Allen not able to enter following his accident on the Jim Clark Rally, Ingram was still able to clinch the R2 title and therefore will now go forward to take up his prize: a fully funded drive in a Clio Renaultsport R3 on the Rally du Var, near St. Tropez in November.

Likewise, Garry Pearson was able to secure the Twingo R1 title in Ulster with one round remaining. He also receives a supported drive on the Rally du Var, but in this case, behind the wheel of a Twingo Renaultsport R2 Evo.

….AND FINALLY

The sixth and final round of the MSA British Rally Championship – International Rally Yorkshire - takes place on 28th & 29th September and, with 1.5-times the points on offer, the competition in the yet-to-be-decided championships and classes is going to be fiercer than ever.

Gass/Sherry Power To First Ever Irish Tarmac Championship Rally Victory For DMACK

Posted: August 28, 2012 1:14 PM

DMACK took a momentous maiden overall victory in the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship today after Darren Gass secured a dominant win on the Ulster Rally. Gass and co-driver Enda Sherry powered their Subaru Impreza WRC to success after having led the event from the second stage on Friday night.

DMACK was more than a match for the other more established tyre brands with Gass using its medium compound moulded slick to score fastest times on over half of the 14 competitive stages.

The traditional mixed weather ensured the Ulster lanes were tricky and slippery – with inconsistent grip levels adding to the challenge. However, Gass took it all in his stride. He was second on the opening stage just 0.2 seconds off local driver Derek McGarrity. But, equipped with DMACK’s medium compound slick, he went fastest on the high-commitment Torr Head stage to move into the lead – and never looked back.

Gass and McGarrity traded times until the second pass of Torr Head when Gass went fastest by over 11 seconds to hold a commanding overnight lead.

When McGarrity retired with gearbox problems on the 24.8km Slieve Gallion stage, the longest test of the rally, Gass and Sherry were left with a lead of over a minute.

They cruised to victory by 1 minute 12 secs from second place driver, and championship rival, Garry Jennings.

The win comes at an important time for DMACK in Ireland as the manufacturer launches a new range of passenger car tyres countrywide in September.

DMACK’s next asphalt outing is next weekend on the FIA World Rally Championship’s Rally Deutschland.

Dick Cormack, DMACK motorsport director, said:
“Not only is this a fantastic result for DMACK but it’s also great for Darren. He and Enda have delivered some fantastic performances for us this year and they’ve driven with skill and maturity well above their years. It’s easy to forget Darren’s just 21-years-old and it’s rewarding for DMACK to be involved with such a talented young driver.”

Darren Gass said:
“We’ve been on the right tyres for each loop throughout the whole event and we couldn’t ask for anything more from DMACK. It’s been an important victory for us as now we just need a top-six finish in Cork to take the overall championship.”

Cronin/Clarke claim third 2012 BRC victory in Ulster

Posted: August 28, 2012 1:12 PM

Keith Cronin and co-driver Marshall Clarke scored their third MSA British Rally Championship victory in succession when they won this weekend’s round five, the Todds Leap International Rally NI. Driving their Citroën DS3, they led the event from the first of its 14 stages and never looked likely to relinquish their advantage, which stood at impressive one-minute 32.7-seconds by the time cars crossed the finish line in Antrim.

Just as impressive was the performance of second-placed Elfyn Evans/Phil Pugh in their Ford Fiesta R2. Like the winners, the two Welshmen also held their position throughout the rally and, as well as securing Class 6 for R2 category cars, they also beat the rest of the R3 category field and were one-minute and five-seconds ahead of their nearest rivals. But most importantly, their fifth class win of the season means Evans secures the title for the R2 category with one round remaining.

Behind the R2 Champion, it was the battle for third place between three crews driving Citroën DS3s that became the focus for the second day of the rally. Eventually it was Osian Pryce/Iestyn Williams who claimed the podium place by a slender 0.7 seconds, his performance earning him this event’s nomination for the Pirelli Star Driver Award.

The Welshmen initially finished ahead of Tom Cave/Craig Parry, with Jonny Greer/Gordon Noble just 6.7 seconds behind in fifth. However, a subsequent 50-second penalty for leaving a service halt late meant that Cave/Parry were relegated to fifth when the final results were published.

Cars left the start at Antrim’s Junction One Outlet Centre on Friday lunchtime and headed northeast for the rally’s first loop of three stages. The morning rain meant that talk in the service area was all about tyres and many of the crews opted for a combination of slicks and intermediates, either on the car or being carried as spares which could be swapped when required.

Right from the word go, Cronin/Marshall signalled their intentions and went fastest through the opening stage by a margin of 5.6 seconds ahead of Evans/Pugh, with Pryce/Williams 2.7 seconds behind in third. Also impressing in their Ford Fiesta R2 were Jussi Kumpumaki/Jani Salo, who held fourth place as competitors lined up to start SS2 and the most notorious stage of the rally, the eight-mile coastal run over Torr Head.

Unfortunately, this was to be the Finns’ final stage, when a small bump on a corner on a fast downhill section sent their car across the road and into a bank, the impact launching e Fiesta into a series of rolls. Thankfully, the safety cage did its job and both of them emerged unharmed, but the same could not be said for their Fiesta. The stage was then stopped whilst the car was recovered, which saw organisers accredit all following competitors with notional times.

One more stage remained before the first service halt of the day and the time sheets revealed that Cronin/Marshall had extended their lead to 16.6 seconds. All of the BRC competitors confirmed the changing nature of the road surface could catch anyone on the wrong choice of tyres.

A repeat of the first three stages followed and, starting the loop in bright sunshine, most crews opted for slick tyres. However, as Cronin/Marshall came to the end of SS6, the rain started to fall and, for the remaining competitors, conditions became decidedly worse. The lack of grip was clearly demonstrated by Ruary MacLeod/Paul Beaton, when their Fiesta slid off the road and onto a bank, forcing the driver to run down the stage to muster a group of marshals and push the car off its grassy perch.

But for Alastair Fisher/Daniel Barritt, Desi Henry/Barry McNulty and James Grint/Craig Drew, things got worse in the preceding stage, when all three crews had to stop and change a wheel after collecting a puncture. Experiencing problems of a different kind were round one winners, Mark Donnelly/Dai Roberts, when their Renault Clio’s ‘flat-change’ system stopped working. This meant they had to rely on using the clutch, which subsequently stopped operating as it should due to the extra strain.

At the overnight halt after six stages, it was still Cronin/Clarke in the lead – now by 55-seconds - with Evans/Pugh second and Greer/Noble third, having overtaken Pryce/Williams on the last stage of the day. Cave/Parry were now in fourth having battled their way through the field from 15th, following a spin on the very first stage.

Saturday’s early morning rain had made the road surface extremely unpredictable when competitors embarked for the day’s first two stages. With a knuckle-clenching blend of wet asphalt, shiny tar, mud and gravel, the conditions were worse than anything the crews had encountered on the previous day, as Chris Ingram/Stephen McAulay found out, when they rolled their Renault Twingo Evo R2 into the trees on SS7. Thankfully, both of them walked away unscathed and it didn’t stop the 17-year old driver from wrapping up the Twingo Renaultsport R2 Trophy title.

The conditions in stage eight were no better and, at an extremely slippery junction, Gethin Jones/Kevin Devine – who rarely have an accident – hit a wall with their Fiesta ST, Desi Henry/Barry McNulty did likewise and bent their Citroën DS3’s rear axle, as did Alex Parpottas/Chris Davies, who carried on for two more stages before ending their rally in a ditch.

As a measure of how slippery the roads were, Jukka Korhonen in the Pirelli Star Driver Skoda Fabia commented that he had never driven on roads like it in his life. Rich words from a Finn! And, although he and co-driver Mikael Korhonen made it through the morning without issues, a broken driveshaft on SS12 brought their rally to a premature end.

The conditions also caught out Greer/Noble, who spun and lost 30-seconds in SS7, which meant Pryce/Williams went back to third and Cave/Parry started to close up. Behind them, Donnelly/Roberts were still struggling with their car’s clutch and were being pursued by Guy Wilks, who was driving a Renault Twingo Evo R2 by invitation of the French manufacturer as part of the car’s test and development programme. However, a gearbox oil leak was to put the twice British Rally Champion and his co-driver David Moynihan out of the event on the penultimate stage. Also testing a car on this event was former BRC front-runner Craig Breen who, together with co-driver Paul Nagle, were demonstrating the new R2 Peugeot 208 by running as course car.

As the day went on, the sun came out and the temperatures got higher and higher, which saw the roads dry out and speeds increase – especially those of Evans/Pugh, who were fastest though SS9, the 6.7-mile run of Lisnamuck. But the demands of the bumpy Ulster asphalt forced further retirements during the course of the afternoon, with Fiesta crews Fisher/Barritt and Parpottas/Davies bringing their rallies to a disappointing conclusion in a ditch.

In contrast, Cave/Parry were on a mission and, when they posted the fastest time on the penultimate stage, would have overhauled Greer/Noble for fourth, if it had not been for a 50-second penalty that was applied when their car would not start as they went to leave the final service halt of the day..

An ever-improving Matthew Cathcart/James Morgan were sixth in their Fiesta after Donnelly/Roberts finally lost the battle with their car’s transmission. Solid runs by Callum Black/Paul Wakely in their Citroën DS3 and Arron Newby/Martyn Taylor in their Skoda Fabia saw them finish seventh and eighth respectively, whilst Grint/Drew were ninth.

Tenth place went to a delighted Garry Pearson/Craig Wallace and, by scoring a finish in his Twingo Renaultsport R1, Pearson became the 2012 MSA British Junior Rally Champion. His cause was helped when rivals Steve Røkland/Tom Andre retired their Fiesta R1 in SS12 with fuel problems.

But it was Cronin/Clarke who dominated the event and the result moves the Irish driver closer to a third British Rally Championship title by claiming his third consecutive win this season. Evans/Pugh were equally as pleased with their giant-killing performance, taking their fifth Class 6 (R2 category) win in as many events, Evans wrapping up the 2012 R2 title in the process.

The outcome of the event means that Cronin and Evans now share the Drivers’ Championship lead, with Cave four points behind in third. Therefore, with the opportunity to score 50% more points, the battle for the 2012 MSA British Rally championship title will be decided on the sixth and final round, the International Rally Yorkshire, which takes place on 28th & 29th September.

Class Podium Sees Newby Climb BRC Table On Ulster Rally

Posted: August 28, 2012 1:11 PM

Tricky conditions greeted competitors for round five of the 2012 British Rally Championship but despite mixed fortunes for both drivers, the Pirelli TEG Sport Team left the Toddsleap International Rally Northern Ireland in a positive mood.

Continuing his excellent run of results which saw him win two more rallies outright during the break in the BRC calendar, 17-year-old Arron Newby claimed a deserved 13th overall in the Pirelli TEG Sport Team's Robert Wiseman Dairies-sponsored Skoda Fabia R2.

The young driver from Carnforth, along with co-driver Martyn Taylor, overcame the damp and slippery conditions and improved from a top twenty placing overnight to finish 13th overall and claim more vital BRC points to move up to 16th place in the championship table.

However, such was his progress that he finished third of the registered points scorers in Class R2 meaning a podium finish and with it, an elevation to fourth place in the standings with one round to go.

For Finnish team-mate Jukka Korhonen, his rally ended in disappointment when placed inside the top ten with just three stages to go when the Pirelli-backed Skoda Fabia R2 he was sharing with namesake Mikael suffered a broken driveshaft.

Despite the setback, the 27-year-old from Siikajarvi, who won last year's Pirelli UK Star Driver award, still holds a top ten placing in the overall championship as well as third place in the highly competitive Class R2 going into next month's final round on International Rally Yorkshire.

Stuart Newby, Team Owner:
"This is always a tough event and whilst we are disappointed for Jukka, we are delighted with the way Arron drove and to bring the car home on the Class R2 podium was a bonus. The idea was not for him to win the event but to drive for a finish and to gain more experience which is exactly what he did. We now hold third and fourth place in that very competitive class going into the final event in Yorkshire where we expect both drivers to finish the season strongly. We are still well placed in the BRC Teams Cup and again it's been a great team effort so we are looking forward to a good result back on gravel next time out."

The International Rally Yorkshire is based in Scarborough and uses the classic gravel stages around Pickering over the weekend of September 28/29th and sees two former Pirelli TEG Sport drivers Elfyn Evans and Keith Cronin tied on points in the lead.

Gass mark won!

Posted: August 28, 2012 1:09 PM

DARREN Gass was crowned 2012 Todds Leap Ulster Rallly champion at a sun-splashed Junction One in Antrim on Saturday evening after producing two days of seemless driving to clinch his maiden victory in the prestigious event.

The Markethill man, driving a Subaru Impreza, who currently leads the Irish Championship, was only behind once throughout after Derek McGarrity won the first stage by just .2 of a second.

From that point on the pair went toe-to-toe until McGarrity’s retirement on stage 10, due to mechanical problems, all but handed Gass the title.

With his main championship rival, Garry Jennings, suffering a frustrating first day without a handbrake and receiving a 10 second penalty after missing a chicane on stage seven, Gass cruised home to seal the overall win by a massive one minute 12.2 seconds.

And the Co Armagh man, co-driven by Enda Sherry, was delighted with the result after a long weekend behind the wheel: “I’m very happy, delighted, because it’s a hard rally to win,” he beamed.

“ It’s the one everyone wants to win so I’m happy. And it means a whole lot for the Irish Championship because we didn’t get on too well in Donegal so it was nice to get a win and keep [Garry] Jennings behind me.”

“I didn’t come into the event expecting to win, but I did come into it knowing I’d have to drive as hard as I could. Derek [McGarrity] beat me by .2 of a second in the first stage, but we led from then and it was a good race until he retired.

“It felt as though a little bit of the pressure was lifted when he retired, but then I was a little disappointed too because it’s harder to get to the finish when there’s no one coming behind you.”

And although Jennings, co-driven by Rory Kennedy, who finished second overall, was disappointed with the final result and by a frustrating day one, he was pleased by his turn around in form on Saturday.

“I’m satisfied with second place after all the trouble we had on Friday night,” said the Kesh man, who also drove an Imprezza.

“ We were lucky to start the rally at all but we were fit to stay with them, even though we spun twice on Friday night. We lost a lot of time and then we lost the brakes on Torr Head, but the tyres were good and we had some fastest and second fastest times on Saturday.

“To get two or three fastest times on the final day and the rest were second fastest gets your confidence back,” concluded Jennings, who finished ahead of third placed Daragh O’Riordan, who also suffered a 10 second penalty on stage seven for missing the same chicane.

Rally NI ended similarly to the Ulster Rally, with Keith Cronin, in a Citroen DS3 R3 T alongside Marshall Clarke, romping home ahead of the field by just over one minute and 27 seconds.

Cronin and Clarke were delighted at the end of Rally NI, with Marshall saying:
“It’s absolutely magic to win your home event. It is really special as I have marshalled on this event when it was the Ulster and now to win sitting beside Keith is a great feeling.’”

The current British championship leader led from start to finish, dominating proceedings throughout to take the win ahead of the impressive Elfyn Evans, who did well to finish second in a Ford Fiesta R2, while another Welshman, Osian Pryce, was third in another Citroen.

While that trio enjoyed success in Antrim over the weekend there was disappointed for one local man, Omagh’s Mark Donnelly, who was in championship contention coming into the Ulster Rally, but he was forced to retire prior to the final stage after a difficult weekend.

He suffered clutch problems throughout, but still managed to compete in the top 10 before a different mechanical issue forced him out of the event, along with double British champion, Guy Wilkes, who debuted the Renault Twingo R2 Evo.

Said Donnelly after the event:
“We struggled with the clutch throughout the whole rally and lost a lot of time on Friday night, but then we had to retire because of something completely different!

“It was hard, but we showed some good pace at time, so I’m quite happy with that. If it wasn’t for the problems I don’t think we’d have lost as much time, but it’s easy saying that now.

“It’s really difficult when your confidence is knocked by something like that. We only had a small chance of the British title at this stage, but on tarmac it’s very difficult against the Citroen’s on tarmac.

“But we came here, we gave it a shot, but what can you do?”

Meanwhile in the Ulster Historic Rally, Tomas Davies and Julian Reynolds enjoyed an exciting battle for the title, exchanging places on top of the timing boards on regular occasions before the latter co-driven by Patrick Walsh, in his Ford Escort RS1600, sealed the victory with a 5.2 second final stage win.

And like the overall event, the National Rally also had a first time winner in the form of Frank Kelly and navigator Russel Harold, driving a Ford Escort Mk II RS, who held off the concerted challenges of Derek McGeehan in his Mini WRC and Camillus Bradley in a Ford Escort Mk II to claim the title on his debut at the event by just 6.1 seconds.

And the Challenge Rally was won, relatively comfortably, by Richard Sykes and co-driver Simon Taylor in a Citroen C2 R2 Max, ahead of Jon Armstrong and Russ Thompson.

Results

Posted: August 28, 2012 12:03 PM

Combined (Ulster International / Rally of Northern Ireland)
1 Darren Gass/Enda Sherry (Subaru Impreza WRC) 1h 40m 03s,
2 Garry Jennings/Rory Kennedy (Subaru Impreza WRC) 1h 41m 15s,
3 Daragh O’Riordan/Tony McDaid (Subaru Impreza WRC) 1h 42m 13s,
4 Robert Barrable/Paddy Robinson (Skoda Fabia S2000) 1h 42m 16s,
5 Keith Cronin/Marshall Clarke (Citroen DS3 R3) 1h 45m 37s,
6 Elfyn Evans/Philip Pugh (Ford Fiesta R2) 1h 47m 15s,
7 Steve Perez/Paul Spooner (Ford Focus WRC) 1h 47m 31s,
8 Sam Moffett/James O’Reilly (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 Gp N) 1h 47m 58s,
9 Osian Price/Iestyn Williams (Citroen DS3 R3) 1h 48m 19s,
10 Jonathan Greer/Gordon Noble (Citroen DS3 R3) 1h 48m 24s.

Leaders After:
SS1 Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS2-14 Darren Gass/Enda Sherry (Subaru Impreza WRC)

Stage Winners
SS1 Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS2 Darren Gass/Enda Sherry (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS3 Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS4 Darren Gass/Enda Sherry (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS5 Darren Gass/Enda Sherry (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS6 Darren Gass/Enda Sherry (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS7 Garry Jennings/Rory Kennedy (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS8 Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS9 Darren Gass/Enda Sherry (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS10 Darren Gass/Enda Sherry (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS11 Garry Jennings/Rory Kennedy (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS12 Garry Jennings/Rory Kennedy (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS13 Darren Gass/Enda Sherry (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS14 Robert Barrable/Paddy Robinson (Skoda Fabia S2000)

THE CITROËN RACING TROPHY UK SERIES LANDS ON THE ULSTER TARMAC

Posted: August 17, 2012 11:49 AM

Round five of the MSA British Rally Championship, the Ulster International Rally, based at the Junction One complex in Antrim, starts at lunchtime on Friday, taking in six special stages, before eight stages are tackled on Saturday before the tea time finish back in Antrim. Included are some daunting strips of tarmac including the famous Torr Head stage, which runs right along the coast-line of the Irish Sea. You can see as far as the Mull of Kintyre from this road which runs from Ballycastle to Cushendun, but the DS3 R3 mounted Citroen Trophy drivers will have no time to admire the awesome views as they tackle it twice on Friday.

After an eleven week break in the Citroen Racing Trophy UK series, the seven DS3 R3 mounted crews are very much eagerly waiting what is one of the most challenging and demanding rounds of the series. The DS3’s are poised at the top of the British Rally Championship, with Tom Cave jointly leading with Fiesta mounted Elfyn Evans and DS3 mounted Keith Cronin next on the points table and in a favorable position when it comes to dropped scores. Osian Pryce is fifth on that table, with Jonny Greer sixth, Desi Henry eighth, and Jarkko Nikara tenth. Sadly Jarkko who has shown good speed all season will not be contesting the Ulster International, due to a shortfall in funding, but a new recruit for this event is Longford’s Tommy Doyle, who recently sold his R3 Clio, and has now joined the ranks of the DS3 drivers. Tommy made his debut in the DS3 on last weekend’s Tipperary Stonethrowers Rally, finishing 11th overall and 2nd in class, and has enjoyed much success in the past few seasons at home, and even on the IRC Ypres Rally abroad.

Leading the Citroen Racing Trophy UK standings after four rounds is Portglenone’s Desi Henry, who was also testing in Tipperary taking a fine 8th overall and winning the class. Desi’s car is prepared by John McKillop, whose house is actually on the first special stage of this rally, but John will be away from home for most of this weekend. Keith Cronin is second in the point’s race, but on dropped scores would be leading the Trophy, after only joining the Citroen ranks on the second round. His Jim Clark Rally victory makes him a hot favorite for this event, and he’s taking a test with the Autosport Technology team to get back into the groove this week. On the Jim Clark it was Tom Cave who was putting it up to Keith. The 20 year old Welsh driver is very much in form at present, and has been very busy in the interim period, winning the Rally of Thailand in an S2000 car, and the Coracle Stages in the Welsh forests in a Group N car. A test this week will see him reacquaint himself with the R3 class DS3. “I’m feeling quietly confident at this stage. I feel that recently, my driving is the best it has ever been and that helps my confidence enormously. My tarmac performance also seems to have improved over the last year or so, so I’m aiming for a top three finish in Ulster.
“It’s not going to be easy though, that’s for sure. I think the plan is to be on the pace on Friday for the first six stages so that I’m not on the back foot for Saturday. Sensible but fast with no mistakes.”

Jonny Greer, who works in the family DGM Sport business in Carryduff, near Belfast is looking forward to his home round of the series, after claiming third place on the Jim Clark. He also took part in Tipperary last Sunday, claiming 13th overall and third in class. Osian Pryce who was fifth on the Jim Clark has also been testing this week in his Davies Motorsport Services run car, whilst James Grint is his AVS Motorsport run car will be starting his first event on Irish tarmac, so it will a learning experience for the young man from Chepstow. Also competing in a DS3, but not registered for the series is Callum Black, in his appropriate black DS3, and he claimed ninth on the Jim Clark event.

The Ulster International will see a new experiment by the Citroën Racing Trophy for the UK and Irish runners, as we have a major social media drive. End of stage interviews, results, in-car footage, blogs and exclusive interviews will all be posted live on the Citroën Racing Trophy’s Facebook and Twitter accounts over the weekend. You can follow the progress of the Citroën Racing Trophy via Facebook at facebook.com/citroenracingtrophy on Twitter @crtrophy and via You-tube. As a further incentive Charles Hurst and the CRT organisers have put up three prizes with the winners selected from a prize draw, from those who follow the Citroën Racing Trophy on Twitter and like the Facebook page to follow the latest news.

Prizes as follows:

    1st A unique framed and signed Citroën WRC team print PLUS a passenger run in a DS3 R3 rally car on a rally test day!
    2nd A Citroën Racing light-weight rally jacket
    3rd A Citroën Racing soft shell rally jacket
There are truly prizes for everyone this weekend on the Citroën Racing Trophy!

Twingo Trophy: Take two on tarmac

Posted: August 16, 2012 2:10 PM

The inaugural Twingo Renaultsport R1 and R2 Trophy UK follow the MSA British Rally Championship onto asphalt for their second successive sealed surface event in 2012 this weekend, as crews head across the Irish Sea for Todds Leap International Rally NI, part of the Ulster Rally.

The French one-make series are brand-new to the British Isles in 2012, having been successfully launched in France and Italy last year. Two series, one for the Twingo R1, the other for more powerful Twingo R2 rally cars, run alongside Britain’s premier rally championship, offering prizes on each event and an end of season prize-drive for each series winner.

So with a drive in the next model of Renault rally car on the final round of the French Rally Championship on offer, the Twingo crews have made a great impression in the all two wheel drive BRC.

Garry Pearson and Craig Wallace have already secured the Twingo R1 Trophy, but their prize drive on Rallye du Var is also dependent on victory in the British Junior Rally Championship at the end of the season.

With two wins from three events, the young Scot from Jim Clark’s home town of Duns is on course, merely needing to hold his nerve on the Ulster lanes to take the title and the drive in France despite a non-finish at home.

The fight for Twingo R2 Trophy honours called on Cheshire and California to do battle. The much more powerful R2 variants of Renault’s Twingo “pocket rocket” screamed through all three BRC forest events, although not scoring Twingo points until the second round.

San Francisco’s Nick Allen and Solihull’s Andy Bull took first blood in Wales, after Chris Ingram and Joe Cruttenden had fuel problems. The American showed great camaraderie when he helped Ingram to the finish on the end of a tow rope; not strictly in the rule book, but proving that chivalry is alive and well.

Ingram didn’t have the chance to help Allen in the infamous Kielder Forest complex, after transmission trouble sidelined the affable Yank. But it was another infamous road that caught him out on tarmac, landing badly after the tricky Swinton crossroads bump and smashing into a tree. Ingram too had a big moment at the crossroads, but he kept the power on, he and new co-driver Ieuan Thomas taking top spot and with it scoring points for Renault UK.

With Allen’s two retirements leaving him on the back foot, he has decided to skip the lanes around Antrim and Londonderry, leaving Ingram needing just to start the event to claim a Clio or Mégane prize drive on Rally du Var.

However he will no doubt wish to prove his pace against a Twingo Evo driver who is not registered for points in Ulster. Double British Rally Champion Guy Wilks will contest the event in an identical car this weekend as a guest one-off drive, sharing valuable test data with the youngster.

The Todds Leap International Rally NI is based at Antrim’s Junction 1 retail outlet park which, as well as providing the venue of the service area, is also the location for the rally’s start and finish. At 13.00 on Friday cars leave the shopping centre for a leg of six stages and 50 competitive miles in the afternoon and evening, before returning to Antrim for the overnight halt at 21.00. A further eight stages totalling 72-miles take place on Saturday, with the finish scheduled to take place at 17.20 back at Junction 1.

Carryduff Forklift N.I. Series Heads to Ulster Rally!

Posted: August 16, 2012 2:01 PM

For the first time in the history of the Carryduff Forklift MSA Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship, the series heads to the Todds Leap Ulster Rally lanes this weekend for round eight of the 2012 title fight.

Despite being one of Northern Ireland's premier events, the Ulster has never been a counting round of the country's rally series. Based at Junction One in County Antrim, the 2012 event provides the Carryduff Forklift series regulars a third opportunity to contest closed road events this year, following on from the Circuit of Ireland and Down rallies.

Heading into the Todds Leap Ulster Rally, Derek McGarrity heads the series standings by a considerable margin of 21 points. He has secured four maximum scores from the five events that he has contested, leaving him as the hot favourite for the 2012 title. With 12 points for a victory, his rivals will be hard pushed to close the gap over the remaining three rounds.

Drew Stewart currently lies joint second in the series standings, despite crashing out of the Hankook Down Rally. In McGarrity's absence at the Mourne Rally, Stewart claimed a popular victory aboard his Mark 2 Escort.

Stewart also heads the two-wheel-drive category, with David Armstrong 10 points adrift while Fintan McGrady, of McGrady Insurance, holds third.

Derek McGeehan shares second position with Stewart. He has perhaps been the surprise of this year's series, with consistent scores taking him close to the top of the pile. He is 11 points clear of Ray Brammer, while Kieron Graffin holds fifth ahead of leading Sunoco Fuels Group N pilot, Trevor Ferguson.

Impreza mounted Ferguson currently leads the Group N category by 16 points from the Evo belonging to Gerard McFall.

One category that has already been tied up ahead of the Todds Leap Ulster Rally is the Montgomery Motorsport Historic class. Andy Johnson and Jim McSherry have already done enough to secure the 2012 historic spoils, so they can afford to relax for the remainder of the season.

The Carryduff Forklift series regulars will also pit their driving skills against a host of other championship competitors. More than 150 crews across various Ulster events have entered the rally, including Carryduff Forklift’s own Jonny and Barry Greer, providing a recipe for a great weekend of high octane motorsport action!

The N.I. crews will add yet more competition to the already highly competitive Ulster event and are a welcome addition to the rally. Action begins on Friday afternoon (17 August) and concludes on Saturday 18 August. More details can be found online at www.nirally.com.

Battles rage throughout the BRC in Ulster

Posted: August 15, 2012 2:33 PM

MSA British Rally Championship competitors will not only be battling for overall positions when they congregate in Antrim for round five of the six-round 2012 season - the Todds Leap International Rally NI - held this Friday and Saturday. Some will also be fighting for points in the five support championships and three manufacturer one-make series’ that are included in this season’s BRC. And HERE’s how they stand:

MSA BRITISH MANUFACTURERS RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP

This year’s MSA British Manufacturers’ title is a three-way battle of the brands: Citroën, Renault and Ford, with scores towards the title calculated from each of the manufacturers’ two leading cars.

Wins and podium places in rounds two, three and four means that Citroën UK leads the standings by 28 points, with Renault UK’s win on round one securing them second place. They are currently just one point ahead of Ford Motor Company who’s R2 Fiestas have been punching above their weight against the more powerful R3 cars that represent the French manufacturers.

MSA BRITISH JUNIOR RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP

Underpinning the BRC’s commitment to reward its rising stars, a new-look Junior Championship has been introduced for this season. Open to drivers of 23 and under in Class 10 (R1) cars, this initiative sees the winner recognised with the prestigious title of MSA British Junior Rally Champion.

20-year old Renault Twingo R1 driver Garry Pearson from Duns currently holds a 20-point lead in the category. He was hoping to extend his advantage last time out, when his main rival Steve Røkland (also 20-years old) from Norway was absent from the entry list, but a non-finish by the Scotsman due to a broken driveshaft means that the counter is reset this weekend.

PIRELLI STAR DRIVER

This year’s Pirelli Star Driver competition selects a winner from each round, plus the winner of the MSA British Junior Rally Championship. Each then go forward to an end-of-season shootout where they compete for a prize designed to boost their progression in the sport. This award is being demonstrated this year by 2011 Pirelli Star Driver Jukka Korhonen, who was awarded a fully-funded programme to contest the 2012 BRC driving a Škoda Fabia R2.

So far this year the three winners of the coveted yellow jersey - the item presented to the successful driver that best symbolises the Star Driver nomination - are: Mark Donnelly (round one), Tom Cave (round two), Jussi Kumpumäki (round three) and Matthew Cathcart (round four).

In keeping with the rules of the selection process, the winner from this weekend will not be announced until the finish. However, if other years are anything to go by, it would be foolish to predict the nominee, as the Todds Leap International Rally NI often springs a surprise when it comes to the Pirelli Star Driver competition.

BRC TEAMS CUP

The new-format BRC Teams Cup is aimed at professional motorsport teams running two cars. Six teams are currently registered.

Drivers are pre-nominated, but can change from event-to-event. All six rounds count towards the final championship classification, with only the highest-placed of the team’s two cars scoring points.

After four rounds the battle for the BRC Teams’ Cup is still wide open, with M-Sport Ford topping the tables and proving that consistency is key if you want to win a championship. Flag bearer for the Fiesta-based team has been Elfyn Evans, who’s shown that a Class 6 (R2) car is scant disadvantage against the Class 5 (R3) cars.

The Welshman was ably supported by Matthew Cathcart on the Jim Clark Rally but, with the return of Trillick’s Alastair Fisher to the fold this weekend, the driver line up reverts to what it was for the first three rounds of the season.

11-points adrift in second place is the Pirelli TEG Sport team. Also running a pair of R2 cars - but in this case Škoda Fabias – the team will again comprise Pirelli Star driver Jukka Korhonen from Finland and 17-year old Arron Newby from Carnforth, who will be aiming for better luck and a clean run this weekend following his dramatic exit from the Jim Clark Rally.

Another team that has shown that consistency pays off is AVS Motorsport, with its main points scorer Gethin Jones from Chepstow, driving one of the team’s Ford Fiesta STs. Currently third in the standings and seven points behind Pirelli TEG Sport, the team re-recruits Citroën DS3 driver James Grint from Hitchen to provide the its second entry in Northern Ireland.

Although not registering until the round two – which it won – a second Team’s Cup victory for Davies Motorsport Services in round four saw it jump to fourth in the points table, just three behind AVS and, more significantly, the team is now in an excellent position to challenge for the title. Once again, Welshmen Tom Cave and Osian Pryce will represent the team, both driving Citroën DS3s.

With Niko-Pekka Nieminen and Jussi Kumpumaki caught out by the unpredictable roads of Berwickshire and therefore scoring a pair of non-finishes on the Jim Clark Rally, it means that Ford Junior Team Finland dropped from equal-second to fourth in the space of one round. They now occupy fifth place, six points behind DMS.

After the team’s sole entry of Callum Black retired from round one and then had to miss the next two rounds whilst his new Citroën DS3 was being built, the Millers Oils 586 Team made a welcome return to the BRC for round four. Therefore the team is currently sixth, although its 34-point deficit to fifth s likely to be reduced significantly this weekend.

RAVENOL OILS BRC PRIVATEERS CUP

For drivers who compete outside of the six official teams, the Ravenol Oils BRC Privateers Cup allows 18 out of the 27 registered competitors to score points towards this recently introduced category.

With three maximum scores for current overall Championship leader Keith Cronin, it is hardly surprising that he is also the leading privateer. The Irishman is just three points in front of fellow Citroën DS3 driver Desi Henry, who’s consistent finishing record has seen him score well in this category.

Making it an all-Irish 1,2,3 is Mark Donnelly, the Renault Clio Driver also scoring well and is now just five points behind Henry. He is being chased by Carryduff’s Jonny Greer, who is only four points further back and is destined to do well on his home turf driving his Citroën DS3.

BRC ONE-MAKES SERIES

The MSA British Rally Championship features three, one-make series

Citroën Racing Trophy UK

With a €10,000 prize fund for the top three finishers on each event, seven of the eight drivers competing in DS3s are registered for this year’s Citröen Racing Trophy UK.

Top-scoring on round one and then posting a series of consistent finishes means that leading the series by three points is Desi Henry, but with two outright wins to his name, Keith Cronin is catching up fast and currently holds second place.

Just four points separate the twice-British Rally Champion and round-two Citröen Racing Trophy and overall winner Tom Cave, whilst in fourth and not that far behind is Osian Pryce, followed closely by Jonny Greer.

Fiesta SportTrophy

His run of outstanding performances this year means that Elfyn Evans is clear leader of the FordFiesta SportTrophy. He currently stands 25-points in front of second-placed Gethin Jones, who has also impressed by putting his older and less powerful Fiesta ST ahead of his rivals in more modern R2 Fiestas.

However, Matthew Cathcart is only four points behind and, if his current form continues and he uses his knowledge of Northern Irish asphalt to his advantage this weekend, he could well improve on his third place.

Twingo Renaultsport R1 & R2 Trophies UK

In the Twingo Renaultsport R1 & R2 Trophies UK - where a £3000 per-event prize fund is up for grabs - current BRC Junior Championship leader Garry Pearson was able to secure the R1 series’ title on the Jim Clark Rally – his local event.

Top R2 driver is now Chris Ingram, after Nick Allen crashed his Twingo heavily on the Swinton Crossroads jump in the closing stages of round four. The damage sustained means that the California-based driver will not be competing this weekend, as his car is still being repaired.

Spectators to experience a more interactive Ulster Rally in 2012

Posted: August 15, 2012 1:23 PM

MOTORSPORTS fans will be able to keep up to date with all the action at this year's Todds Leap Ulster Rally, which takes place on Friday and Saturday, August 17 and 18, quicker than ever thanks to coverage provided by the iRally App and via the easily accessible 'Rally Information Hub'.

Alongside these facilities, which will allow spectators to access information on the event as it happens on the stages, rally fans will also be able to test their skills against the giants of the sport, both past and present.

The event, which is based at Junction One shopping centre, Antrim, will be even more interactive for rally fans this year.

The 'Rally Information Hub' will be situated in the heart of Junction One shopping centre, close to the Rally Service areas, where the cars and crews are refettled between each competitive section of the rally.

Visitors to the Hub will be able to get close to the cars as they return to service - hot from competition on the stages through counties Antrim and Londonderry; listen to interviews with competitors and obtain autographs; chat to the drivers, navigators and rally officials and access live results and obtain regular rally bulletins.

If all that isn't enough to get potential spectators appetites whetted for the big event, then maybe the chance to test their skills against some 'Rally Giants' will appeal.

At the Information Hub area will be multiple rally simulators, which will have competitions running throughout the weekend. Visitors will be able to test their driving skills against their friends and rally drivers, past and present.

Also available for rally fans ahead of what promises to be the biggest and most exciting Ulster Rally in living memory, will be the opportunity for them to access information via their hand-held devices.

New for 2012 and a first for the Ulster Rally will be the introduction of the iRally service. This has been made possible through NITB support and brings the rally information service onto a whole new plain.

iRally is the world's first and only comprehensive rally App. It covers all rallying, including the World Rally Championship and Intercontinental Rally Challenge. It is strictly independent and unbiased, free to download and use and claims to be one of the most successful sports Apps ever.

It will bring editorial coverage and build-up pre-event, then full on event stage by stage information so fans can see how the Rally Giants are doing throughout the entire weekend.

The service offers text comments from leading drivers at stage ends on the iRally App - these will also be available on the ToddsLeap Ulster Rally website - stage and overall times from the main event; broadcast of available video material before, during and after the event, and full-on dedicated production of rally radio from the event.

iRally information will also be available in the Rally Information Hub at Junction One, while organisers will be updating their Facebook and Twitter pages real time with stage results and other news from the event.

All links will be on www.rally.ie during the event

Moffetts busy month

Posted: August 14, 2012 1:47 PM

2012 Billy Coleman award winner Sam Moffett faces a busy schedule over the coming weeks, having just contended the Stonethrowers Rally as a test , he will now focus his attention on the Ulster Rally before a trip to Belgium in early September for The Tour of Flanders,

Speaking at the finish ramp in Clonmel Sam commented on his season so far
"We really only came here to Clonmel as a test because we have nt competed on tar since Donegal, it has been one of the toughest rally s I've competed on so far, the conditions were horrendous ,between torrential rain , shiny tar, and really bad mucky lanes, even just to finish today was an achievement. On paper we won Group N, but Colm Murphy finished in 3rd overall so as far as I'm concerned we are 2nd in Group N, I have to really hand it to Colm , some of his times today were phenomenal, the rest of us were just scratching our heads wondering how he does it.
Next weekend it's back to the Tarmac championship, which has been our focus this year, obviously we got the Group N win in Donegal international, which was a great highlight and something I always wanted, I was nt expecting such a fierce fight with my brother Josh , we started out leading, but we made 2 silly mistakes on Saturday and dropped 20secs behind, so the battle was on, We clawed it back bit by bit to eventually win by 18secs, It was a really fast pace and we raced right to the end, as an example, on the second last stage Port lake we were only separated by 0.4 of a second, so it was a hard earned victory.

In hindsight we were lucky to finish at all , as it materialised that a new fuel pump that had been fitted was faulty, and the car had actually stopped on Friday, we had all but given up trying to start it and had rang Gerry McGarrity to come with the trailer , but for some reason I decided to try it once more, and it fired up , we were running way down the field , but at least we were still in the event.

The problem re occurred, when we went to Mitchelstown Forestry for our first gravel event, After the first stage the car stopped again and this time there was no starting it, so it was instant retirement, this was disappointing because we wanted to clock up some gravel miles, but we had put in a respectable time on stage one, so hopefully next time will be better..

But for now my aim is to win Group N on the ulster rally, Gary Jennings still leads the class in the championship, but he is opting to pursue the Overall championship and has hired a WRC car, that will leave things a bit easier for us, but it's still a long tough rally so we will still have to push and keep the concentration level up....

After the Ulster rally , in early September is the Tour of Flanders in Belgium , it's a bit of an unknown,
I've never been there before so it will be a challenge , but I'm looking forward to it , I ve been studying some in cars , it's very flat terrain with big cuts , it will be totally different to Irish events but hopefully we can go well and get a decent result..

TUTHILL’S DESSIE NUTT EYES A PODIUM ON HOME SOIL

Posted: August 14, 2012 12:44 PM

Irishman Dessie Nutt is aiming to move into the top two of the British Historic Rally Championship when he contests next weekend’s Todds Leap Ulster Historic Rally at the wheel of a Tuthill-prepared Porsche 911.

Based in the town of Antrim, Northern Ireland, Todds Leap Ulster Rally uses closed public roads in the counties of Antrim and Londonderry. The event marks the sixth round of the MSA British Historic Rally Championship and this year challenges a healthy field of 45 historic entries.

Flying the flag for Oxfordshire-based Tuthill Porsche will be 2009 British Historic Rally Champion Dessie Nutt. After a strong start to the 2012 season, Nutt is currently third in the championship standings, 19 points behind second-placed Nick Elliot.

Nutt and co-driver Geraldine McBride claimed the victory in the historic category on last year’s rally, and the pairing will be looking to use their past experience to secure another win next week.

“I had a lot of fun on last year’s rally. We won every stage and it made it even more special because I was competing on home soil,” explained Nutt, who has entered more than 200 events with Tuthill Porsche.

Nutt added:
"Competing on asphalt in Ireland is never easy, but the Porsche 911 is perfectly suited to the types of conditions that we are expecting next week. The car benefits from very good traction on the slippery asphalt, and as long as we can keep a clean line and try to avoid the bumps, then I think we can leave with a good result. The support from fans in Ireland for rallying is like nothing else, and the whole atmosphere is electric.”

The Todds Leap Ulster Historic Rally is set to take place over two days, beginning on Friday 17 August and will consist of 12 special stages (7 separate stages) over 100 competitive miles.

Tuthill Porsche director, Richard Tuthill, commented:
“Last year’s event was very successful for Tuthill Porsche. We had five-time British champion Jimmy McRae in one of our cars and Dessie won the historic category. The Todds Leap is a rally that Dessie is very comfortable with, and this will undoubtedly pay dividends when he gets out on the stages. He also won the last round of the championship, the Harry Flatters Rally which was also run on asphalt so I think he’s got a very chance of claiming another win next week. Richard Jackson is also competing in the post historic category in his Safari car that has been changed to UK specification.”

Tuthill is the UK’s leading preparation company for historic Porsches. Bjorn Waldegard, the inaugural 1979 World Rally Champion, won the Safari Rally for Tuthill Porsche last year and previous Tuthill drivers have included Markku Alen, Stig Blomqvist, Michele Mouton, Walter Rohrl and Patrick Snijers.

BRC crews get back to business in Ulster

Posted: August 14, 2012 12:18 PM

Following an 11-week summer break, teams competing in the MSA British Rally Championship are back in action next weekend for round five, the Todds Leap International Rally NI. Based in Antrim, the event takes place on Friday 17th and Saturday 18th August on closed roads in the Counties of Antrim and Londonderry and represents the second of two asphalt rallies this season’s six-round BRC calendar.

The International Rally NI forms part of the overall Ulster Rally, which is sponsored by Todds Leap outdoor activity centre. As well as hosting the MSA British Rally Championship, the event also features the NGK Spark Plugs BRC Challenge and a series of national rallies that encompass rounds of the Irish Tarmac Championship, the MSA British Historic Rally Championship and the Northern Ireland Rally Championship.

The phrase ‘it’s anyone’s race’ is often over used, but in the battle between the British Rally Championship crews it’s not, as the change to a two-wheel-drive only formula this season has provided some of the closest ever competition in the Championship’s 54-year history. Out of the four rounds that have taken place so far, the role of honour has seen three different winners, with Bantry’s Keith Cronin the only driver to have claimed victory on more than one occasion.

Whilst his commanding performance in round four – the Jim Clark Rally – may make him favorite for the top step of the BRC podium in Ulster, the Citroën DS3 driver accepts that it won’t be easy and his aspirations to net a third British title could be influenced next weekend. Even with two wins under his belt, Cronin goes to Ulster lying second in the championship standings, albeit just two points behind joint leaders, Elfyn Evans and Tom Cave.

Whilst Cave from Aberdovey – also driving a Citroën DS3 - has been a winner in the UK this season by taking a home victory on the Bulldog Rally of North Wales (round two), he has also tasted success overseas when he won July’s Rally of Thailand outright driving for Proton. For his fellow countryman Evans from Dinas Mawddwy, it’s been supreme consistency of pace in his less-powerful Class 6 (R2 category) Ford Fiesta that has given him the mantle of joint-championship leader with just two rounds remaining.

Evans comes to Northern Ireland fresh from his convincing WRC Academy victory on last weekend’s Rally Finland, a result that sees him head the points table for this global series as well as the BRC. Another Fiesta driver and WRC Academy front-runner - who was lying second in Finland until a throttle problem struck – is Trillick’s Alastair Fisher, who returns to the BRC fold for his home event and will certainly be looking for better luck, having scored just one finish in the Championship so far this season.

Adding his name to the list of possible Class 6 (R2) winners is another twice-British Champion Guy Wilks. The former JWRC and IRC contender returning to the BRC for the first time since 2008 when he guest-drives Renaultsport’s Twingo R2 Evolution.

Currently lying fourth in the BRC standings is Mark Donnelly. The Omagh driver will be doing all he can next weekend to close the gap of 11-points between him and the championship leaders and will be desperate not to experience a repeat of the misfire that plagued him on the Jim Clark Rally two months ago - and during last year’s Rally NI too!

Osian Pryce from Machynlleth is next in the points table, five behind Donnelly and another man who is hoping to get back to his early-season form. Behind the Welsh Citroën DS3 driver is Northern Irish Citroën DS3 driver Jonny Greer from Carryduff. He currently shares sixth place with Carlisle Renault Clio driver Peter Taylor who is unable to make it to Ulster this year.

There’s also a tie for eighth position currently, with Portglenone’s Desi Henry hoping he can make the most of a home advantage in his Citroën DS3. He shares his points total with the highest placed Finnish driver Jukka Korhonen, the reigning Pirelli Star Driver hoping that he can score his first Class 6 (R2) victory in his Skoda Fabia.

Rounding off the top-ten championship positions is another competitor from Finland Jarkko Nikara. Having challenged for the overall lead in all of this season’s four events, the Citroën DS3 driver’s tenth place is certainly not a reflection of his pace and, due to a recent spell of bad luck, he is another who has opted to miss next weekend’s event.

Other Citroën drivers that will be looking to make up for lost time next weekend will be Callum Black from Brackley, who is contesting his second event in his new DS3. Although having his similar car since the beginning of the year, James Grint admits that he is still honing his tarmac skills and hopes to have a less eventful run than he did a few weeks ago in the Scottish Borders.

Moving from ones to watch in Class 5 (R3) to those competing in Class 6 (R2): just outside of the top-ten in the standings - following his impressive performance on the Jim Clark Rally - is Enniskillen Fiesta driver Matthew Cathcart and is another that hopes a home crowd will spur him on. However, he will have to fend-off the challenge from the two Finnish Fiesta chargers Jussi Kumpumaki and Nimo-Pekka Nieminen, both looking for a clean run this time around following accidents of varying severity in Berwickshire.

Another aiming to climb the Class 6 rankings will be Arron Newby, who’s Skoda Fabia has been repaired following its roll on the Jim Clark Rally. Pleasingly, the youngster’s confidence has been somewhat restored following his third outright victory this year at a single-venue event. Others hoping to make an impression in the R2 category next weekend will be Ayr’s Ruary MacLeod and Hoddeston’s Alex Parpottas – both in Fiestas – plus Renault Twingo Evolution driver Chris Ingram from Manchester, who showed good pace on asphalt last time around.

Whilst Class 10 (R1) will be fought-out by the two Junior drivers of Garry Pearson from Duns in his Renault Twingo and Steve Røckland from Norway in this Ford Fiesta, the only runner in Class 8 is Gethin Jones from Cheptow in his Fiesta ST.

BRC organisers are pleased to report that making their British Rally Championship debut next weekend will be Ballinamallard’s Jonny Leonard and the not-so-local Stephen Turner from Tasmania - both driving Ford Fiestas R2s. Unfortunately, following a significant accident in the closing stages of the Jim Clark Rally, another long-distance traveller - Nick Allen from the USA – will not be making an appearance in Ulster.

The Todds Leap International Rally NI is based at Antrim’s Junction 1 retail outlet park which, as well as providing the venue of the service area, is also the location for the rally’s start and finish. At 13.00 on Friday cars leave the shopping centre for a leg of six stages and 50 competitive miles in the afternoon and evening, before returning to Antrim for the overnight halt at 21.00. A further eight stages totaling 72-miles take place on Saturday, with the finish scheduled to take place at 17.20 back at Junction 1.

For live information, photos, driver quotes, radio coverage and results, the BRC App can be downloaded by searching ‘British Rally Championship’ in the App Store or Google Play.

Ulster Rally Ahead for Citroën Racing Trophy Ireland Drivers as the Trophy Gets Social!

Posted: August 14, 2012 11:41 AM

Round five of the Citroën Racing Trophy Ireland 2012 takes place on the Ulster International Rally on the 17th-18th August. The event run by the Northern Ireland Motor Club has attracted the most exciting C2 R2 Max line up this season, and with the added competition of all the R2 class competitors in the British Rally Championship it’s going to an amazing race over the fourteen special stages which lie in store, and with extra live coverage on offer to report all of the dramas.

Opposition in the R2 class is going to be very strong. With such an exciting line up, and Citroën Racing offered a 5000€ prize for winning the R2 class outright, a former CRT champions has registered again for the Trophy and has decided to make an exciting return. Donegal’s Adrian McElhinney won the 2009 and 2011 CRT Ireland Trophies, and he is back in a newly built right hand drive C2 Max, and looking forward to the Ulster Rally challenge.
“Once I heard about the superb entry of front wheel drive cars, I decided to put an entry in” commented Adrian.” I had originally planned to be out in Donegal, but work commitments took priority, so it’s brilliant to be back out on the Ulster. We had a wee run out in this new car to shake it down on the ALMC Stages, so it will be interesting to see how we will fare against the top British Championship crews, and of course the top Irish C2 crews.” Adrian’s cousin Damien will be in the co-driver’s seat.

Of course the importance at this stage is very much on the championship, and Kevin O’Connor from Askeaton, County Limerick is in command, after victories in West Cork, the IRC Circuit of Ireland and Donegal events. Kevin however will want to prove his pace against this quality field and he will have to bear in mind that the newly registered crews could well steal a few points. With the significant prize money available, the usual 3500€ available for the CRT Ireland win, but upped to 5000€ if they take R2 outright, it’s a big incentive to Kevin who is on a limited budget.

Westport’s David Carney lies second after what has been a good season to date, the highlight being a win in Killarney. Steve Wood from Aberystwyth in Wales has also entered and his consistency has also come more speed on each round to date. Kieran Daly who showed so well in Killarney, and was second in Donegal will not start this round, but Armagh’s Sean Agnew will with Peter Deery in the hot seat. Sean has been adapting to his newly upgraded car this year and is looking forward to the Ulster.

Another new registration for the CRT Ireland series is Preston driver James Ford, who acquired Desi Henry’s old C2 Max this year.
“I decided to go the C2 Max route after starting the year in a 300 horse power MK2 Escort. It’s a bit different to drive, but the C2 is a good package, and I am getting more used to front wheel drive driving. We had some brake problems on the Jim Clark Rally, but we think we have cured those, and we had a good run out on the Rally of the Midlands, winning the class by a few minutes. We plan to do the Tyneside stages, on Otterburn, just before the Ulster, but the Ulster will be my first rally in Ireland, so it will be a new challenge for us.”

This year’s Todds Leap Ulster International Rally will once again be based at the excellent venue of the Junction One shopping complex in Antrim, and will include six stages on Friday, including runs over the awesome Torr Head and Glendun stages, two of the best tarmac special stages in Northern Ireland. It promises to be a fantastic battle of the 1600cc class R2 front wheel drive rally cars.

Getting Social on the Ulster!

The Ulster International will see a new experiment by the Citroën Racing Trophy for the UK and Irish runners, as we have a major social media drive. End of stage interviews, results, in-car footage, blogs and exclusive interviews will all be posted live on the Citroën Racing Trophy’s Facebook and Twitter accounts over the weekend.

You can follow the progress of the Citroen Racing Trophy via Facebook at facebook.com/citroenracingtrophy on Twitter and via You-tube.
(Links will be on www.rally.ie during the rally).

As a further incentive Charles Hurst and the CRT organisers have put up three prizes with the winners selected from a prize draw, from those who follow the Citroën Racing Trophy on Twitter and like the Facebook page to follow the latest news. Prizes as follows:

    1st A unique framed and signed Citroën WRC team print and a passenger run in a DS3 R3 rally car on a rally test day!
    2nd A Citroën Racing light-weight rally jacket
    3rd A Citroën Racing soft shell rally jacket
There are truly prizes for everyone this weekend on the Citroën Racing Trophy!

Tom Cave hopes for smiling Irish eyes

Posted: August 14, 2012 11:09 AM

MSA British Rally Championship leader Tom Cave will head to Northern Ireland later this week, as he contests the Toddsleap International Rally, the fifth and penultimate round of the 2012 series. The 20 year-old Welshman starts the tarmac event as joint leader of the series and knows that a solid result, and hence points haul, is essential as he targets the coveted BRC championship title in his Citroen DS3 R3.

While the BRC has had a 11-week summer break, Tom has used the time well; he won the Rally of Thailand as a works driver for PROTON Motorsports and also won the Coracle Stages Rally, his third win in a row on the event.

However, he is also keenly aware that this weekend will be a stern test. Despite leading the standings along with fellow Welshman Elfyn Evans, former BRC champion Keith Cronin is only two points adrift and is likely to be a favourite on what will be the closest rally to his 'home' event.

Tom's plan is simple; replicate his most recent round of the BRC, the Jim Clark Rally, the series' other tarmac event. He aims to establish a pace on the first leg, Friday, which keeps him towards the front of the timesheets then adjust that as necessary to achieve the best result possible on Saturday, the second and final day of the event.

Commenting, Tom said;
"I'm feeling quietly confident at this stage. I feel that recently, my driving is the best it has ever been and that helps my confidence enormously. My tarmac performance also seems to have improved over the last year or so, so I'm aiming for a top three finish in Ulster.

"It's not going to be easy though, that's for sure. There are a lot of very quick drivers out there. Keith [Cronin] is likely to be the pace-setter and he's only a couple of points behind us in the championship. Elfyn [Evans] is also quick and very consistent and there's also people like Guy Wilks doing the event, in a car which can be very competitive.

"I think the plan is to be on the pace on Friday for the first six stages so that I'm not on the back foot for Saturday. Sensible but fast with no mistakes."

The event begins with a ceremonial start in Antrim before six stages on Friday 17 August, with two runs over three roads separated by a service. Then on Saturday, the crews will face eight further stages, again run as two loops of four before the first crews are expected to arrive at the finish at 17.40hrs.

Clerk of the course delighted by record Ulster Rally entry

Posted: August 10, 2012 2:42 PM

Lewis Boyd, the new Clerk of the Course of the Todds Leap Ulster Rally, says he is delighted with the record entry for the 2012 event which takes place in Antrim on Friday and Saturday, August 17 and 18.

Lewis, from Seskinore in County Tyrone, is especially excited by the level of young talent entered in the Todds Leap Rally NI, which has been boosted by the late entry of double British Rally champion Guy Wilks in a Twingo Renaultsport R2 Evolution.

He said:
"I'm delighted with the record number of entries we have received for all the events and I think the British Rally Championship contingent in Rally NI will provide a brilliant spectacle for the fans over the two days. "Northern Irish competitors like Mark Donnelly, Desi Henry, Alastair Fisher and Jonny Greer are on the top of their game right now, and we have a few new drivers coming up through the ranks like Enniskillen's Matthew Cathcart who are really getting noticed this season. They have a fantastic opportunity to make their mark on their home event."

Keith Cronin heads the Rally NI crews away from Junction One on Friday afternoon followed by joint British Rally Championship leader Tom Cave, both driving Citroen DS3's. Mark Donnelly is the leading Northern Ireland challenger at three ahead of the other joint British Championship leader, Elfyn Evans in a Ford Fiesta, Trillick's Alastair Fisher, Guy Wilks and Cork's Tommy Doyle. Desi Henry, Jonny Greer and Welshman Osian Pryce round out a quality top 10. The Todds Leap Ulster Rally has also attracted a high quality entry with Derek McGarrity, Garry Jennings, Darren Gass, Daragh O'Riordan and Steve Perez all fighting for Irish Tarmac Championship honours.

The Ulster Historic Rally is packed full of quality cars and drivers from the UK with the likes of David Stokes, Will Onions, Tomas Davies, Ernie Graham and Julian Reynolds facing up to the local challenge from Wesley Patterson, Ryan Barrett, Keith McIvor, Raymond Johnston and Dessie Nutt to name just a few. On the Ulster National Rally, a round of the Carryduff NI Championship for the first time, last year's winner Pat Kirk leads the way ahead of the Mini WRC of Derek McGeehan. However we can expect some of the two wheel drive cars like Camillus Bradley, Frank Kelly, Rodney White or Drew Stewart to chase them hard for the win. 2010 National Rally winner George Robinson can also be expected to be in the hunt along with Ballymena's Alan Carmichael in his Subaru Impreza.

Finally, the Ulster Challenge Rally, which is a support series to the British Rally Championship, rounds out the five different sections of the 2012 event with any one of the 10 drivers entered capable of taking the victory.

The Todds Leap Ulster Rally promises ultra-close action, and with 150-plus entries there will be cars to please every generation. To find out where to pick up an official Ulster Rally programme, check out www.ulsterrally.com for more details.

The 2012 Todds Leap Ulster Rally gets underway at Junction One International Outlet shopping centre, Antrim, on Friday, August 17, with the official start at 1pm.

Double British Champ Wilks tempted by Evo Twingo

Posted: August 8, 2012 5:23 PM

Double British Rally Champion Guy Wilks will showcase the Twingo Renaultsport R2 Evolution on British asphalt, taking the wheel of Renault Sport Technologies’ own Twingo Evo on the Todds Leap International Rally NI, part of the Ulster Rally.

The car has already made an impression on gravel in the UK at the start of the 2012 MSA British Rally Championship season, when former works driver Justin Dale gave it its world debut in the forests near Bournemouth on Rallye Sunseeker.

Despite both Wilks’ British titles coming at the wheel of four wheel drive works machinery, he has vast experience of front wheel drive cars, cutting his teeth in the BRC’s one makes series, before taking several Super 1600 wins both here and in the Junior World Rally Championship.

Guy Wlks drove the Twingo Evo at the recent Twingo Trophy customer day

The County Durham driver will be co-driven by the vastly experienced David Moynihan, a partnership that has already proved itself, the pair taking three podium places en route to Wilks’ second BRC title.

The car will be run alongside the Twingo Renaultsport Trophy UK by series technical partners Monster Sport Europe, again a partnership with Wilks that goes back to the JWRC days.

Wilks has already tested the car briefly on tarmac at a Twingo Trophy customer day, pronouncing himself very happy with its power and performance:

“It is a great little car,” he said, “with plenty of grunt and nicely balanced. I think we can improve its performance with a test on some bumpy tarmac before the event. Then we can show it off to its very best against the current crop of BRC hotshots.”

“The concept of going from its little R1 brother to learn the events before moving up to this level of performance is a great one too. A similar one-make series route to the one that I took in rallying.”

Twingo Renaultsport Trophy youngster Chris Ingram had already decided that the Evo was the way forward, quickly upgrading his own car for Bulldog International Rally North Wales. But at just seventeen, he is still gaining experience on the BRC’s events and while he has undoubted talent, a new car, new co-driver and new events means that he is still getting to grips with the Twingo Evo.

Todds Leap Rally NI is based in the town of Antrim and uses closed public roads in Counties Antrim and Londonderry, starting on Friday 17th August at 12.45 and finishing on Saturday at 17.40. Rally HQ, the service area, start and finish of the event are all centred on Junction One International Outlet Shopping Centre on the edge of Antrim town.

Ulster Rally programme on sale from Thursday

Posted: August 8, 2012 5:01 PM

THE official 2012 Todds Leap Ulster Rally programme goes on sale from Thursday, August 9 at all good newsagents across Northern Ireland and Donegal, and can be ordered online at www.rallymagazine.com.

The glossy, information-packed publication can also be purchased at the following outlets:

    Holiday Inn Express at Junction One (Rally HQ);
    Junction One Visitors Centre;
    Texaco/Centra service station at Junction One;
    Anne's Newsagents at Junction One;
    Broomhedge service station,
    Moira Road, Lisburn, and Ballydown filling station,
    Castlewellan Road, Banbridge.

Entries Received

Posted: July 23, 2012 11:28 AM

Available at:

2012 Todds Leap Ulster Rally Early Entry Closing Date Fast Approaching

Posted: July 23, 2012 10:51 AM

With the early closing date for entries for the 2012 Todds Leap Ulster Rally, Rally NI and the Ulster National Rally approaching fast, competitors are urged to secure their places on the starting list without delay.

Wednesday 25th July marks the early closing deadline for all five events and a late fee will apply on any application made from the 25th right up until the final closing on Wednesday 1st August.

All competitors travelling from the UK mainland are also urged to get their travel plans in place to ensure they fully benefit from the Ferry discount provided by Stena Line. The offer will end soon so check out the event website for more details.

The easiest way to secure an Ulster, Ulster National or Rally NI entry is to log on the event website at www.ulsterrally.com, select the appropriate event from the Competitors Section and use the Online Entry Form.

The Ferry Discount Information is available from the competitors section on the event website, as well as a list of the crews who have already secured their place on the start list.

Craig Breen/Paul to drive Peugeot 208 R2 as "Zero Car"

Posted: July 18, 2012 11:59 AM

Development work on the Peugeot 208 R2 is continuing with a view to its scheduled launch in November. The next major step in the new car’s programme will be an appearance on the Ulster Rally. After serving as ‘zero car’ on the Tour de Corse, the 208 R2 will make its second ‘competitive’ outing in the hands of Craig Breen/Paul Nagle.

Getting kilometres under its belt

Ahead of its trip to Ireland, the latest Peugeot Sport-designed and developed hot hatch will have covered 4.142 miles in eight separate test sessions, plus its run at last May’s Tour de Corse. A balanced proportion of that distance has been on gravel (44 percent), while the remaining 56 percent has been on asphalt, of course. Before the 208 R2 goes on sale internationally, it is expected that it will have completed at least 5.000 miles as Peugeot Sport strives to achieve the best possible trade-off between reliability, performance and driving enjoyment for the newcomer’s price. In addition to the different test sessions that await it, a number of other rallies also feature on the 208 R2’s development calendar.

‘Zero car’ for the Ulster Rally

For its second public appearance, the 208 R2 will run the same specification that was seen in Corsica. This time, however, Peugeot Sport has recruited the services of Craig Breen, the driver who has so far covered the furthest distance in the 208. The youngster has profited from his extensive experience of the R2 class to clock up no fewer than 1.045 miles at its wheel. Following the recent tragic death of his co-driver Gareth Roberts, he will be joined for his return to the stages by Paul Nagle, Kris Meeke’s usual navigator. The 208 R2 will run as ‘zero car’. The event will be an opportunity to showcase the new car’s potential to an audience of Irish and British rally teams and drivers, with whom the R2 class is particularly popular. From a technical viewpoint, Peugeot Sport will use the rally to validate the car’s set-up on the low-grip, bumpy asphalt that is frequently encountered in the sport. The 208 R2’s international promotion programme will then continue with visits to four other major European rallies, including the Sanremo (Italy) and the Rallye du Var (France). Meanwhile, the production schedule for the 208 road car has been adjusted as a function of demand, which means that the 208 R2 will now be homologated in October, by which time the minimum production-run of 2,500 1.6-litre normally-aspirated 208s will have been reached. image

The 208 R2 – Technical description

The 208 R2 is powered by a 1,600cc, 185-horsepower normally-aspirated engine mated to a five-speed sequential gearbox with a manual shift mounted on the steering column (like the 207 S2000). In addition to this unique feature for a car in this class, the gearbox benefits from air cooling. The 208 R2 is equipped with three-way adjustable dampers with hydraulic bump stops, plus specific wishbones which permit longer suspension travel. To simplify the ordering and management of parts and to facilitate the conversion from a gravel to an asphalt specification (and vice-versa), Peugeot Sport has opted for a single calliper as standard, re-machined discs. Thanks to the floating calliper arrangement, the conversion from gravel to asphalt spec only requires the calliper mounting spacer to be changed. The 208 R2 runs on Michelin tyres and tips the scales at 1,030kg, in compliance with the regulations.

Three questions to Craig Breen

What made you decide to carry on rallying?
Gareth and I put in a great deal of hard work this year to build up a good relationship with Peugeot Sport. The two of us played a part in the development of the 208 R2 and we got on well with the team. The plan was to do the Ulster Rally with Peugeot Sport and it would be such a waste of all the work Gareth and I put in if I had decided to quit now. It’s for him that I want to continue competing and to succeed. It won’t be easy without him but I’m sure he’ll be guiding me onwards.

What has your approach been to the Ulster Rally?
I’ve got mixed feelings. On the one hand, it’s quite exciting to be driving for a committed manufacturer for the first time, even if it is as ‘zero car’. It’s a big step in my career and it was one of our objectives with Gareth, so it promises to be difficult without him. It will also be a big step for me competing with my new co-driver, Paul Nagle. He’s very experienced and talented and I think he will make a big contribution to the team. Before Ulster, Paul and I will contest Rally Finland in the SWRC class, in my own car. That will be a great way to see how we work together.

What is your opinion of the 208 R2?
It’s got a great deal in its favour, and I can compare with all the other R2 cars. It’s very powerful and its handling is very stable. It is easy to drive and it doesn’t take you long to feel comfortable with it. I’ve had a chance to drive it on asphalt and on the loose surfaces : it’s quick on both and I believe it has the potential to be very successful. Its road holding in mud and in heavy rain is just incredible. The last time I drove it in testing, we covered a fair distance without any problems whatsoever. I’m impressed by the suspension control as much as I am by the agile dynamic chassis performance.

Rally Guide 2

Posted: July 11, 2012 10:18 AM

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Todds Leap F1 Race & Holiday Give Away

Posted: July 4, 2012 1:11 PM

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Entries Open

Posted: July 2, 2012 2:46 PM

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2012 Todds Leap Ulster Rally Sparks New Ladies Reign...

Posted: June 28, 2012 9:00 PM


Launching this year's Todds Leap Ulster Rally at Junction One, Antrim is
(front) driver Amy Cox and (back l-r) Laura Conlon (service park manager), Louise Hannon (Clerk of Course),
Lissa McCully (Start/Finish manager) and co-driver Wendy Blackledge.
Photo: William Cherry/Presseye


Top motorsport extravaganza, the Todds Leap Ulster Rally will this summer celebrate the debut of its first ever female Clerk of Course, Louise Hannan who will move into the driving seat of the Ulster National Rally, one of five races set to feature at the two day event on 17th and 18th August at Junction One Outlet Shopping Centre, Antrim.

Omagh lady Louise joined a top line-up of ‘Rally Girls’ at Junction One to officially launch the 2012 Todds Leap Ulster Rally. Alongside Louise were competitors Amy Cox and Wendy Blackledge as well as a number of senior officials who will manage stages and the Service Park at the Junction one based rally.

Backed by Antrim Borough Council, Junction One, title sponsor Todds Leap and NITB, the award winning two day event offers a five race line-up featuring events from National B status right up to full International standard. Events include the popular Ulster Historic Rally, a counting round of the Kololi Beach Club MSA British Historic Rally Championship. Also on the programme is the International event - Todds Leap Rally NI, the National A status Ulster Rally and National B events the Ulster Challenge and the Ulster National Rally. In 2012 the Todds Leap Rally NI will see the worldwide competition debut of the Peugeot 208 R2.

Entries are set to open on Monday 2nd July and organisers, Northern Ireland Motor Club Ltd anticipate a top line up of local and international competitors including Welshman Elfyn Evans and Tom Cave from England, currently joint leaders of the MSA British Rally Championship, Omagh man Mark Donnelly winner of the opening round of the BRC and currently in 4th place, Carryduff’s Jonny Greer, Antrim’s Desi Henry and Magherafelt’s Marty McCormick. Also likely to compete this year is 2011 Rally NI winner Gary Jennings fresh from his Donegal Rally win, George Robinson from Ballymena, Newry’s Darren Gass and Fermanagh men Alastair Fisher and Matthew Cathcart .

Antrim gears up for the 2012 Todds Leap Ulster Rally...

Posted: June 5, 2012 5:06 PM

Calling all motor enthusiasts! The lights are on once again as Antrim gets set to welcome back the Todds Leap Ulster Rally.

The two day event will kick off from Junction One International Shopping Outlet on Friday 17th August, when the competitors will take on some of the trickiest stages the island has to offer before returning to Junction One on Saturday afternoon for a champagne finish.

Mayor of Antrim, Councillor Paul Michael comments,
“We are delighted that the Ulster Rally is returning to Antrim again this summer. This is a fantastic event for our Borough, with last year’s rally attracting over 20,000 people and generating £1million to the local economy. Antrim Borough Council is proud to support this prestigious event and look forward to welcoming competitors and spectators from across the world as we showcase the excellent facilities and services that are available on our doorstep.”

Lewis Boyd, Clerk of the Course for the 2012 Todds Leap Ulster Rally said,
“It’s great to be back in Antrim again this year with a course that is sure to challenge both old hands and newcomers to the race. We are grateful to both Antrim Borough Council and Junction One for the use of their fantastic facilities during the rally.”

The Ulster Rally (incorporating Rally NI) is the only event to be part of both the British Rally Championship and the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship. It also includes a Historic rally which is a round of the popular British Historic Rally championship and the Irish Tarmac Historic series.

COMPETITION DEBUT FOR NEW PEUGEOT SPORT 208 R2 ON ULSTER RALLY

Posted: May 17, 2012 2:07 PM

The new PEUGEOT 208 R2 Rally Car is expected to make it's competition debut on the Ulster Rally.
The car ran as Sweeper on the recent IRC round in Corsica.

Rally Guide 1 Available

Posted: May 15, 2012 12:06 PM

The organisers of the 2012 TODDS LEAP Ulster Rally have published Rally Guide 1 for the August 17/18 rally weekend.

Ulster Rally Guide 1 has been created to give you all the information you will require to successfully secure an entry for the 2012 event and will assist you to plan your travel, accommodation and your provisional event service details prior to your arrival in Antrim.

The 2012 Ulster Rally will comprise the following events:

    Todds Leap Ulster Rally:
    counting towards
    Irish Tarmac Rally Championship (4wd vehicles)

    Todds Leap Rally NI:
    counting towards
    MSA British Rally Championship
    Irish Tarmac Rally Championship (2wd vehicles)
    Citroën Racing Trophy UK
    Citroën Racing Trophy Ireland
    Ford Fiesta Sport Trophy UK
    Twingo Renaultsport Trophies UK

    Todds Leap Ulster Historic Rally:
    counting towards
    Kololi Beach Club MSA British Historic Rally Championship
    HRCR Appendix K Cup
    Tuthill Porsche Challenge
    Water End Properties Asphalt Cup
    Irish Historic Tarmac Rally Championship

    Todds Leap Ulster Challenge Rally:
    counting towards
    NGK Spark Plugs BRC Challenge
    Fiesta Sport Challenge

    Todds Leap Ulster National Rally:
    counting towards Irish Tarmac Rally Championship ‘Modified Challenge’
    Carryduff Forklift MSA Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship
    Fiesta SportTrophy Ireland
Rally Guide 1 available at:

Website / Details

Posted: May 15, 2012 12:04 PM

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