In a repeat of 2007, the inaugural year of the Citroen C2R2 Cup, the first three rounds have been won by three different drivers, but it is a new boy who leads as the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship turns for home on the Ulster ...
In a repeat of 2007, the inaugural year of the Citroen C2R2 Cup, the first three rounds have been won by three different drivers, but it is a new boy who leads as the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship turns for home on the Ulster International Rally.
Andrew Hockridge admitted at the first event back in April that he had never contested a series anywhere near the level of the BRC. But it didn't stop him from taking victory on the tricky conditions of the Pirelli Rally, having avoided punctures where second placed Martin Roberts suffered two. Martin McCormack took third after problems with a faulty fuel sensor, but that was nothing to Matt Cotton's who barrel rolled his hired C2 into an unforgiving Kielder ditch.
The switch to tarmac on the Jim Clark Rally also saw the return of one of the 2007 front-runners, George Thomas. Despite broken engine mounts early on and an electrical problem near the finish, he proved unstoppable, winning by a clear 13 minutes at the end. McCormack had held second until about three quarters through, beginning to reel in Thomas before a bridge put paid to his efforts. This left Matt Cotton a surprised and delighted runner up, the Cornishman having overcome the memory of the huge crash on the Pirelli. Martin Roberts was third, after a frustrating event where electrical gremlins plagued him all rally, although the result was enough to put him in the lead of the Championship.
Another returnee on the Jim Clark also contested Rally Isle of Man, having missed the first round with a badly broken ankle. Jason Pritchard grimaced through the first tarmac round, but had recovered sufficiently on the Manx lanes to take victory. McCormack put up a fight, but went off in the treacherous conditions, handing the mantle of chaser to Hockridge. He was lucky to be at the rally, having crashed heavily while testing, but still managed to beat last year's C2R2 Cup Champion Martin Laverty into third.
With Thomas not entering the Ulster, Laverty may be one of the favourites for the event. Hailing from Magerafelt he will have stiff opposition from another 'local' driver though, in the form of Draperstown's Martin McCormack.
The rally starts at 3pm on Friday 22nd August from the Mall in the centre of Armagh, with the whole event centred on the nearby City Hotel. Six stages on Friday are followed by a further ten on Saturday with the finish back in the Mall at 5.30pm.