Belfast Telegraph

Ahlin and Pryce throw down gauntlet to locals in Ulster Rally

 

By Sammy Hamill

Fredrick Ahlin, leader of the British Championship, is among the confirmed entries for the Ulster Rally which is now just two weeks away. The Swede has won three of the five rounds so far in his R5 Skoda Fabia and holds a 22 point lead over Welshman Osian Pryce, a former winner of Rally NI which was then the British Championship division of the main Ulster event.

Ahlin and Pryce join a line-up which will see the BRC contenders go head-to-head with the leading drivers in the Irish Tarmac Championship for the only time this season. Sam Moffett tops the points table in the Irish series, eight points ahead of Alastair Fisher, and both are in the August 18/19 entry list which stands at more than 80.

It also includes Keith Cronin, the current Tarmac champion who has switched his attention to the British title chase and is in fourth place. Marty McCormack and Desi Henry, first and second in the Tyrone Stages last weekend, are included too in their Skodas.

The BRC junior division sees the first appearance here of Oscar Solberg, son of World Championship driver Henning Solberg and nephew of former World champion Petter.

Solberg was top junior in the opening round of the series but has since been surpassed by two Ulster drivers, Callum Devine and William Creighton, who are now joint leaders heading into their home round.

The John Mulholland Motors-sponsored event will be based at Ebrington Square in Londonderry with a Friday lunchtime start for two days of stages in the north west.

Meanwhile, Josh Moffett was 15th fastest in qualifying for the European Championship Rally Rzeszow in Poland.

Russian Alex Lukyanuk set the fastest time despite still recovering from injuries he sustained in an horrific accident during a test session in May. Another co-driver, Aleksey Ljadukhin, was killed in the crash.

Nikolay Gryazin was second fastest with Mads Ostberg, making a rare ERC appearance, third. European champion Kajeten Kajetenowicz was ninth fastest and Bruno Magalhaes, current leader of the series, 14th.

Another driver sampling a foreign event this weekend is Frank Kelly who is tackling the Rokiskis Rally in Lithuania in his Mk2 Ford Escort. The adventurous Kelly has also been as far afield this year as New Zealand.

On the racing front Niall Murray, leader of the Dawson-WAM Northern Ireland Formula Ford Championship, switches to sports car racing this weekend to tackle the Brands Hatch round of the British GT Championship.

Murray, who scored back-to-back wins at Kirkistown last weekend, is teaming up with former British GT4 champions Century Motorsport for Brands Hatch and the Donington rounds of the British series and joins Danish driver Jacob Mathiassen in their Ginetta G55 for the two-hour races.

"I've wanted to do GT racing for a long time and am very excited that finally the right deal has been put in place. Brands Hatch and Donington have been two of my favourite and most successful circuits," said the reigning British champion.

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