The Ulster Rally has featured as a round of the Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge for the past three years, the popular International event providing a perfect addition to the championship, as it occupies a vacant slot in the calendar and ...
The Ulster Rally has featured as a round of the Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge for the past three years, the popular International event providing a perfect addition to the championship, as it occupies a vacant slot in the calendar and offers a second asphalt rally in the seven-round season. For the many Ireland-based crews that support the Mitsubishi championship, it also provides the one opportunity of the year for them to compete without having to cross the Irish Sea.
Following the Swansea Bay Rally, the championship tables show David Bogie occupying the top spot, just one point ahead of Richard Cathcart, who has since withdrawn from the Evolution Challenge following recent announcements in the press. A great shame all round, as this year's championship was proving to be the most fiercely contested ever.
However, even with the absence of his former close rival it will not be an easy run for Bogie, as he will be looking for better fortunes than on his last asphalt outing on the Isle of Man, when an accident put him out of contention.
Nik Elsmore is next in the championship standings and could well be a contender for both a win in Ulster - and for the overall title - currently being just five points off the series lead.
Fourth-placed Neil McCance is the most local of the Evo Challenge drivers for this event. However, over the years geography has proved to have no bearing on success and he will be driving to lay the spectre of his former Ulster Rally outings to rest -- a real possibility if his performance on the Manx tarmac in May is anything to go by.
Former championship leader Daniel Barry had a great start to the season. However, his dramatic exit from round five, the Swansea Bay Rally, saw him toppled from the top spot and, since the accident at the end of July, his team have worked tirelessly to rebuilt his Evo IX. Barry now needs a strong finish in the final two rounds to get his title hopes back on track.
Victor on the Isle of Man -- and therefore the only Evo Challenge driver to win on tarmac so far this year - is Keith Cronin and is therefore a favourite for the Mitsubishi podium this weekend. His confidence and pace have grown as the season has progressed and, if it wasn't for the occasional blip of bad luck, he would certainly be higher in the championship than his current position of sixth.
Having dipped out of the Evo Challenge to pursue points in the British series, David Meredith returns to the Mitsubishi fold this weekend by virtue of the two championships combining for the Ulster Rally.
This weekend's event is based in Armagh and gets underway on Friday evening with six stages before the overnight halt. A further 10 stages follow on Saturday, the combined total of which provide the overall International field of 80 cars - which includes six Evo Challenge runners - with 134 competitive miles.
Announced earlier this month, the Evolution Challenge continues to offer its champion one of the best prizes in British Motorsport, the winner of the 2008 series being given an official works drive in this year's Wales Rally GB in a brand new Group N Evolution X. The winning driver will also be considered for selection when details are announced about Mitsubishi's 2009 works campaign.
The 2008 Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge is backed by Mitsubishi Motors UK and Ralliart, with support from its associate sponsors: Pirelli tyres, Speedline Corse wheels, Sparco racewear, Performance Friction Brakes, Sunoco Race Fuels, ADR Motorsport, Walkinshaw Performance and PIAA lights, who sponsor the junior award for under 25 year old drivers.