For the first time in the history of the Carryduff Forklift MSA Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship, the series heads to the Todds Leap Ulster Rally lanes this weekend for round eight of the 2012 title fight.
Despite being one of Northern Ireland’s premier events, the Ulster has never been a counting round of the country’s rally series. Based at Junction One in County Antrim, the 2012 event provides the Carryduff Forklift series regulars a third opportunity to contest closed road events this year, following on from the Circuit of Ireland and Down rallies.
Heading into the Todds Leap Ulster Rally, Derek McGarrity heads the series standings by a considerable margin of 21 points. He has secured four maximum scores from the five events that he has contested, leaving him as the hot favourite for the 2012 title. With 12 points for a victory, his rivals will be hard pushed to close the gap over the remaining three rounds.
Drew Stewart currently lies joint second in the series standings, despite crashing out of the Hankook Down Rally. In McGarrity’s absence at the Mourne Rally, Stewart claimed a popular victory aboard his Mark 2 Escort.
Stewart also heads the two-wheel-drive category, with David Armstrong 10 points adrift while Fintan McGrady, of McGrady Insurance, holds third.
Derek McGeehan shares second position with Stewart. He has perhaps been the surprise of this year’s series, with consistent scores taking him close to the top of the pile. He is 11 points clear of Ray Brammer, while Kieron Graffin holds fifth ahead of leading Sunoco Fuels Group N pilot, Trevor Ferguson.
Impreza mounted Ferguson currently leads the Group N category by 16 points from the Evo belonging to Gerard McFall.
One category that has already been tied up ahead of the Todds Leap Ulster Rally is the Montgomery Motorsport Historic class. Andy Johnson and Jim McSherry have already done enough to secure the 2012 historic spoils, so they can afford to relax for the remainder of the season.
The Carryduff Forklift series regulars will also pit their driving skills against a host of other championship competitors. More than 150 crews across various Ulster events have entered the rally, including Carryduff Forklift’s own Jonny and Barry Greer, providing a recipe for a great weekend of high octane motorsport action!
The N.I. crews will add yet more competition to the already highly competitive Ulster event and are a welcome addition to the rally. Action begins on Friday afternoon (17 August) and concludes on Saturday 18 August. More details can be found online at www.nirally.com.
Photo: William Neill/NEILLPICS.CO.UK
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