Next week’s Modern Tyres Ulster Rally is switching back to its popular two-day format, with a night stage on the Friday evening promising to add to the challenge for those taking part and the excitement for the thousands of people who are expected to line the route.
The Northern Ireland Motor Club event has traditionally started late on Friday afternoon and concluded the following day and that format is returning in this its 45th year. Event Director Philip Murray says the re-think follows talks between competitors and officials from the rally.
“A single day rally proved popular and it was very successful but the team running this year’s Ulster Rally much prefer the idea of a two-day event. That train of thought has been backed up by competitors,” explained Murray. “A two-day event differentiates it from other events here in Northern Ireland. As for the stages themselves, they are of an exceptionally high quality.”
The Friday leg commences at 5pm and consists of three special stages in both the Newry and Loughbrickland areas, with the highlight being the challenging 15-mile ‘Bronte Homeland’ test. On the Saturday, two loops of three stages totalling the best part of 70 competitive miles are set to challenge crews who will travel from across the UK and Ireland to take part.
“The Saturday stages last appeared on the Ulster Rally some 15 years ago,” Murray explained. “They are a good mix of fast roads and tight, twisty sections. They are demanding, they have a bit of everything – the exact type of roads you relish as a driver because they challenge you.
“As for the Friday stage running in the dark, the Ulster Rally is renowned for that. When we sat down to start planning the route for this year’s event it was agreed that every crew should run in the dark,” he added. “That was important because a night stage is not all that common now.”
The 2022 Ulster Rally begins with a ceremonial start at Modern Tyres’ state-of-the-art facility in Newry’s Carnbane Industrial Estate, with the same location hosting the post-rally celebrations. This will also be the venue for the service park where fans of all ages can see the cars up close.
Spectators will have further opportunities to see the cars, and meet the drivers and co-drivers at rally regroups in Banbridge town centre on Friday, August 19 at 6.30pm and again at Armagh City Hotel car park from 11.45 the following morning.
Those wishing to follow the action on both days will be able to do so by visiting the Ulster Rally website (www.ulsterrally.co.uk) or Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ulsterrally). Results and commentary will also form part of the live action across the weekend.