Josh McErlean (Kilrea) and William Creighton (Lisburn) are separated by eight points coming into their home round of the Junior BRC – the Today’s Ulster Rally.
McErlean with British co-driver Keaton Williams have had a strong season to date with two fourths and two wins mid-season – putting them in the pound seats for the Ulster bout. William Creighton and Liam Regan are the most consistent pairing in the BRC this season with the Peugeot 208 crew having never been off the podium. The top step may have eluded them so far this season, but the Irish team won the Junior section on the Ulster in 2017 and be will throwing everything at the event to reduce the deficit to McErlean ahead of the season finale.
Welshman James Williams and co-driver Tom Woodburn dominated the previous event to take their first win of the season and one of the biggest wins for the Ford Fiesta R2T. Despite not scoring on two rounds, the young pairing sit third in the overall standings and are ready to take the fight to the locals this weekend.
McErlean and Creighton will be vying for a £4,000 prize pot from Peugeot UK and TOTAL – making the fight for the win that little bit more interesting.
Claudy driver Jordan Hone with Aileen Kelly sat alongside may be in the lone Opel ADAM R2, but that won’t stop them from fighting at the sharp-end. We have yet to see the full potential from Hone this season, but don’t discount him from the top of the timesheets this time out as the young-gun beat the BRC regulars last year on the Ulster on his way to top two-wheel-drive crew.
Ruairi Bell and Darren Garrod lead the Ford Fiesta R2T runners in the championship standings coming into the Ulster. Garrod won the event overall with Matt Edwards last year and will be hoping he can guide Bell to success 12 months on. Bell recorded his first podium last time out in Ypres and has his eyes fully focused on the €60,000 Junior WRC prize from M-Sport and Pirelli for the highest placed Fiesta in the series. Finlay Retson and Richard Crozier suffered a sizeable off in Ypres and face a race against time to get their Fiesta rebuilt. Retson won the Cadet Cup category in Northern Ireland 12 months ago and he believes he has the pedigree to overhaul the three-point deficit to Bell ahead of them.
Letterkenny ace Marty Gallagher and navigator Dean O’Sullivan switched mid-season from a Peugeot to a Ford Fiesta R2T. In Ypres, the Irishman learnt the turbo-charged machine and set some respectable times, which would have seen him on the podium had it not been for a mechanical failure. On home soil, Gallagher will be let off the leash as he looks to put the Fiesta on top of the podium and record his first BRC win since Rally Isle of Man 2017.
The Today’s Ulster Rally will start with a Ceremonial Start at The Albert Basin on Friday evening (17th) before nine stages on the Northern Ireland Tarmac on Saturday (18th) with the winners spraying the champagne at Newry High School early evening.