Sam Moffett & Karl Atkinson have one hand on the Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Championship trophy after finishing 6th overall on the John Mulholland Motors Ulster Rally. His closest rival Alastair Fisher retired with engine failure on just the second stage of the fourteen stage Derry based event. From there on it was a matter of Moffett playing things safe and keeping his concentration to bring the car home in what proved to be very challenging conditions for all drivers over the weekend. Jonny Greer who finished in third place behind Keith Cronin and Fredrik Ahlin was the top points scorer in the tarmac championship with one of his best tarmac displays to date.
When Fisher retired Moffett was lying in fourth and although he dropped a couple of places on the latter part of the event he was content with his finish. By his own admission it was difficult to find a pace that suited and with heavy rain and bright sunshine alternating over the weekend, discretion was the order of the day. Joe McGonigle in seventh place had a few scares on the final day with one trip up a bank in particular that he was lucky to get away with, but he now moves into third overall in the championship. Stephen Wright was also back out and among the points and he finished eighth overall and moves into fifth place in the series. Every one of the finishers had a tale to tell of close calls and punctures and only 53 cars eventually finished what was a very tough and demanding Ulster Rally.
The Group N battle will go to the final round in Cork as William Mavitty edged out Gavin Kelly by just three seconds to go into category lead after a ding dong battle over both days. The 2WD International Category saw William Creighton finish an excellent 11th overall in his Peugeot 208 R2 and move into the championship lead with James Wilson who finished 15th overall in a similar car very much in the hunt going into the final round in Cork. Marty Gallagher’s run ended with gearbox problems early on the second day.
The Modified championship sees Kevin Eves still leading the way as he recovered from his Donegal accident to take another set of maximum points. Heading to the Ulster Rally his closest rival was Eugene Meegan but his rally ended in a field on Stage 10 as did another championship contender Art McCarrick who went off on the same stage. This left John Devlin to take second placed points and move him into second overall in the Modified Championship.
Barry Jones extended his lead in the Historic Championship with Keith McIvor moving up to second place with Ernie Graham non starting and Shawn Rayner retiring. There are still two more rounds to go in the championship with the Manx Rally the next on the agenda for the historic crews.
The Junior Championship will go right down to the wire in Cork as Justin Ryan edged past Jenna McCann to take maximum points and Justin now has only a three point deficit going into the final round. The championship is now between these two but there are a couple of registered crews in Cork that could still decide the destination of the title.