With just days to go before the 2017 John Mulholland Motors Ulster Rally, Clerks of the Course Philip Murray and Lewis Boyd are looking forward to a top quality entry for the 2017 event which takes place in Derry/ Londonderry and Strabane on Friday 18 and Saturday 19 August.
Speaking as competitors commenced their pre event preparations on Sunday, Philip Murray said: “we are pleased with the class of entries we have received for this year’s event ,including more than 18 R5 and S2000 cars, which will provide a real spectacle for the fans over the two days.
"With local drivers like Alistair Fisher, Desi Henry, Martin McCormack, Jonny Greer, Marty Gallagher, Adam Bustard and Callum Devine on the top of their game right now they have a fantastic opportunity to make a mark on their home turf and this years event welcomes our youngest ever competitor in 16-year-old navigator Eathan McColgan and leader of the Irish Tarmac Junior Championship, Jenna McCann”.
MSA British Rally Championship leader Frederik Ahlin from Sweden and his Norwegian co-driver Torstein Eriksen make a return and lead the competitors away from the Guildhall Square at lunchtime on Friday 19 August. Next up is Alistair Fisher and Gordon Noble and following an 'off' on the last rally in Killarney they will be looking to close the gap to current Irish Tarmac Rally Championship leader Sam Moffitt who starts the event just behind them at number 3.
Next over the start ramp is Keith Cronin and Osian Pryce. Both competitors were claimed by the same corner in the previous round of the BRC in Wales with a high-pressure fuel pump failure for Pryce and a roll for Cronin. The top ten line up also includes Robert Barrable in the Hyundai R5, Jonny Greer in the Citroen DS3, Desi Henry in the ŠKODA Fabia and Stephen Wright in a Fiesta R5, all promising a weekend of great action for spectators.
Local man, Callum Devine with co-driver Keith Moriarty in the Opel ADAM R2 seem unbeatable at the moment with wins in both Ypres Rally of Belgium and the Nicky Grist Stages in Wales, and will worth watching out for on his home stages.
Competition will be stiff between William Creighton, Marty Gallagher, Meirion Evans and Kyle White, all competing in the same spec Peugeot 208 R2's. Creighton secured three highest place finishes so far this season but it’s Evans that’s will be going for gold in search of his first outright victory in the Junior BRC.
New to the Rally this year is Oscar Solberg, nephew of the WRC and World Rallycross RX Champion, Petter Solberg. Oscar competed last year in the WRC supporting Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy so has a good understanding of the pace of his competitors.
A special visitor to this year’s event is John Coyne from Laguna Beach, USA with the spectacular Tuthill Porsche 997 R-GT. The noise and power of special car will be well worth a trip to the stages.
Other competitors of note in this year’s line-up include Joe McGonigle, Camillus Bradley, Nabila Tejpar with a late entry from Josh Moffet and Josh McErlean in a Fiesta R5. Fresh from the Ulster Grand Prix on two wheels, 15 times TT winner Michael Dunlop also makes a welcome return in his Den Motorsport Ford Escort MkII.
After leading the Junior Championship, John McCabe crashed out in home rally of West Cork and is now navigating for Jenna McCann who’s moved up into the lead and goes for the win in her first Ulster Rally 6 points ahead of Justin Ryan.
John Mulholland, Ulster Rally event sponsor is out in his new Skoda Fabia R5 sporting a black and gold livery in recognition of winning the UK ŠKODA retailer of the year.
If your planning to see some action…then download the spectator guide to see where all the stage viewing areas are and you can also order a programme online. Programmes will also be available from the Media Office at the Service Park in Ebrington, Visit Derry Offices, Derry~Londonderry as well as newsagents and garages throughout the area.
Listen live to all the action as it unfolds over the two days. It’s really easy and it’s free, just visit www.ulsterrally.com and click the ‘Listen Live’ button. So if you are watching the stages, log in on your phones for the live commentary. Alternatively, if you can’t make it, you can log on from anywhere in the world on any device.
This new radio service is free with coverage starting on Friday at 12 noon.