The dramatic British Rally Championship will take another exciting turn this weekend as the Today’s Ulster Rally hosts the penultimate round of the closely-fought series. The narrow, bumpy lanes of Northern Ireland have always played a crucial part in the BRC title race and 2019 will be no different, as Matt Edwards and Tom Cave come to Newry, tied on 68 points.
Fellow countryman Tom Cave last visited the Ulster Rally in 2016 and will be giving it everything to go toe-to-toe with Edwards on the iconic tarmac. The Hyundai i20 R5 star is putting together a strong campaign this season with navigator Dale Bowen. Cave has Irish Tarmac form this already as the Michelin-supported driver clinched the BRC win on the West Cork Rally back in March. The title race couldn’t be closer, and those keen rally fans will be in for a monumental fight between the two title protagonists.
While the BRC title fight this year looks set to be between two drivers, a whole host of local stars who will be eager to put the cat amongst the pigeons in order to stamp their own mark on the 2019 Ulster Rally.
Draperstown man Marty McCormack and co-driver Barney Mitchell know the Northern Ireland lanes well and will want to return to the BRC podium in their Skoda Fabia R5. The pair have yet to win a round of the championship, despite coming close on several occasions, and they lead the Irish charge for a home win – something the passionate local fans would dearly love to see this weekend.
Reigning Irish Tarmac Champion Josh Moffett (Monaghan) last won a BRC round back in 2016 and could be a dark horse for honours this weekend. Along with Keith Moriarty, the duo have already clinched a podium in West Cork but on their local BRC round, the pair will be pushing for the outright win this weekend in their Ford Fiesta R5.
The Scottish crew of Alex Laffey and Stuart Loudon secured a breakthrough sealed-surface podium in Ypres on the last round, and the M-Sport Ford Fiesta R5 crew will be keen to back that up on the Irish Tarmac. Laffey joins McCormack and Moffett in a three-way scrap for the final spot in the overall championship standings as the season starts to come to an exciting conclusion.
Belfast-based driver Jonny Greer with Scottish co-driver Kirsty Riddick are Ulster specialists and with the Ford Fiesta R5 will be ones to watch on Saturday. Greer finished second behind Elfyn Evans in 2016 and pushed for the lead last year before a rare off put paid to his chances. With no title to think about, the Ulsterman will be hungry for his first BRC win – especially on an event less than an hour from his front door.
Billy Coleman Award winner James Wilson from Armagh will be hoping his home round will stop his run of bad luck in Britain’s premier rallying series. Since his win on the opening round with co-driver Arthur Kierans in the Junior BRC, the Irish crew have had a torrid season. With it being Wilson’s home round, he will be stepping into a Hyundai i20 R5 to challenge himself against the BRC top flight.
Local ace Alan Carmichael returns to the BRC after a small break and will be vying for overall points and the National Rally Cup win in his right-hand-drive Hyundai i20 R5. John Morrison and Peter Carstairs currently lead that category in their Kumho-shod Mitsubishi Evo 9 and the Scottish crew will look to take a haul of points from the Ulster to their home round – the Galloway Hills – the final round of the BRC in September.