Air ambulance lift-off set for boost from the Circuit of Ulster
Close to 300 rally competitors, drivers and navigators will set out tomorrow morning on the Woodside Group Circuit of Ulster, their aim not just to complete a marathon route but to raise money for Northern Ireland's first air ambulance.
From starting points in Toome and Larne they will circle the northern part of the province in an old style rally which features navigation and speed tests on private land.
Organised by a conglomerate of Ulster motor clubs, the competitors come from all parts of Ireland and range across the whole spectrum of motorsport, from stage rallies to autotests.
The group setting out from Larne, for instance, will include Dermot Carnegie, a driver who was champion in both rallycross and autotests, as well as two Robert Woodsides, winners in everything from stage rallies to sprints, hillclimbs and autotests.
Up at Toome, the starting list will be led by one of the top exponents of this type of targa rallying, Eric Patterson, and includes leading autotest drivers Paul Mooney and Peter Faulkner.
Meanwhile, the local race season kicks off at Kirkistown tomorrow with the news that the NI Formula Ford Championship is to be included in the Mazda Road to Indy, an American series in which the winners head to the US for a lucrative shoot-out.
The Irish Championship was included last season and saw Niall Murray go close to landing the $200,000 prize. He was champion at Kirkistown, too, but is moving on to sports car racing.
The NI series will also benefit from a £10,000 prize fund supplied by new sponsors Dawson-WAM.