Challenging weather conditions forced rally drivers to go all out in their attempt to win the John Mullolland Motors Ulster Rally in Derry (Londonderry) at the weekend, Lucy Begbie reports.
Welshman Elfyn Evans, and his co-driver Craig Parry, powered through the 143 mile course to seize the Ulster Rally win, taking the British Rally Championship title at the same time.
It was a historic day for the 27-year-old Ford Fiesta R5 rally driver from Dolgellau and his family, as it marks the twentieth anniversary of his father Gwyndaf’s win of the Ulster Rally back in 1996.
“The event was really tough, in fact it was probably the toughest of the season with the weather changing all the time – stage conditions changing constantly,” Evans said.
“After making a few wrong tyre choices yesterday (Friday), we played it safe and erred on the side of caution on the second day to make sure we held our advantage and took the win.
“It feels pretty good to win the British Rally Championship title… To combine it with a win is very special, and it’s nice to be going home with the championship.”
Ulsterman Jonathan Greer driving his Pirelli-backed Citroen DS3 R5 took second place on the podium. He maintained a good pace throughout the stages but conceded it was difficult to make the right tyre choice given the rain, slippery tarmac, and the mud and gravel on the road.
“It’s great to be back on the BRC podium, and its’s great to have done it against the calibre of drivers that were here. It makes it that bit special.”
Scottish driver David Bogie, said he was happy to get back to the finish in third place following a wheel bearing collapse on the last stage, with just a mile to go.
“This has to be one of the toughest rallies I have ever done – from the recce, through to two long days of rallying,” he admitted.
The Ulster Rally is the penultimate round of the Clonakilty Black Pudding Irish Tarmac Championship, and is also part of the British Rally Championship. Gary Milligan, the clerk of the course said he was ‘delighted’ with the quality of the entrants which also included local drivers Alistair Fisher, Desi Henry, Martin Mc Cormack and Jonny Greer. The event was further boosted by the late entry of 13 times TT winner Michael Dunlop in a Ford Escort.
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