It wasn't exactly surprising. Most of the experts had predicted an Andrew Nesbitt victory on the Stena Line Ulster Rally and that is exactly what they got. The Armagh man accompanied by James O'Brien turned the short, sharp 'Ulster' into a ...
It wasn't exactly surprising. Most of the experts had predicted an Andrew Nesbitt victory on the Stena Line Ulster Rally and that is exactly what they got. The Armagh man accompanied by James O'Brien turned the short, sharp 'Ulster' into a demonstration run after the first few stages and the pair eased their Impreza onto the Belfast finish ramp with more than three minutes in hand over Toyota crew Jonny Milner and Nicky Beech in second place.There had been moments of drama of course, but most of these came in the first few hours. Derek McGarrity tried hard to take the fight to Nesbitt but was eventually defeated by his own gearbox, while several 'likely lads' didn't make it past the first stage. Robert Woodside's Impreza challenge halted there, as did that of Kris Meeke, whose experiment with inverted flight in the Puma resulted in retirement less than a mile from the finish. At the finish Daniel and Michael Doherty claimed the final podium position for Subaru less than two minutes behind Milner after a good run, while Eamonn Boland and Francis Regan brought their 'new shape' Impreza home fourth after a fight back from the lower end of the top 10 caused by a broken drive shaft.
The Super 1600s were always likely to shine on the 'Ulster' but few would have predicted fifth overall and a category win for Gwyndaf Evans and Chris Patterson in the hitherto unreliable MG ZR. That's where they finished though, 23 seconds clear of pre-event favourites Justin Dale and Andrew Bargery in their Peugeot 206. Maurice Gass and Geoffrey Orr brought their Impreza WRC home seventh, just ahead of Davy Greer and Stephen McAuley in the Manx-winning Corolla. Greer had GpN winner Trevor Cathers and Dessie Wilson treading on his tail at the finish too, the Mitsubishi finishing just 10 seconds behind the Toyota, with another Mitsubishi in the hands of Roy White and Greg Shinnors completing the top 10 a further 12 seconds adrift.
Overall, it was a successful return for the 'Ulster' with a strong entry and well-run stages. A successful return to winning form for Andrew Nesbitt too. Interest now switches to Cork and the next Toshiba Tarmac round in just under a month's time.