James Wilson is set to close out a beneficial year in the British Rally Championship on this weekend’s Ulster Rally. The Armagh driver arrives back home hot off the back of another top-five finish in Wales last Saturday.
Wilson finished fifth overall on the Rallynuts Stages Rally which featured three of Britain’s most famous gravel stages, Myherin, Sweet Lamb, and Hafren. He was only seven seconds off a podium position and had it not been for losing fifth gear on Rallynuts’ penultimate stage, Wilson could well have sneaked into the top three.
“It was a very good rally,” said Wilson. “To get to drive through those stages, it was an incredible experience, and that was the big reason we did the rally.
“They are definitely the best forest stages I have done before. They were just so smooth and fast but at the same time there was a lot of work in them. You really needed to carry a lot of speed to put in a decent time.”
Rallynuts was another new event for Wilson, he has been ticking first-time rallies off his list throughout 2021. With co-driver Arthur Kierans alongside, the border county duo set a sixth-fastest time on Rallynuts’ opening run through Myherin.
With one mid-Wales stage under their belt, they felt much more comfortable going into stage two. Unfortunately it was red-flagged but Wilson and Kierans were able to complete the remaining four stages with three fourth-fastest times.
Keen to try something different ahead of next year, Wilson was behind the wheel of a Rally2 Ford Fiesta for the first time. He enjoyed his new office for the day but it is back to his usual Hyundai i20 for this weekend’s Ulster Rally.
“I am looking forward to the Ulster Rally now, it is the closest event to home for me all year. I haven’t done a tarmac event in a very long time so I’m aiming to have a steady run and get the car to the finish.”
2019’s Ulster Rally is Wilson’s most-recent closed-road rally and this year’s running comprises the same three loops of three stages around County Down. The Ulster Rally moved from its traditional August date this year, so crews will face an even more challenging event thanks to the unpredictable November road conditions.
The Ulster Rally gets underway with shakedown on Friday evening before three passes of McGaffin’s Corner, Bronte Homeland, and Shinn Bridge on Saturday.
Photo by British Rally Media