Belfast Telegraph

Air Ambulance to benefit from Circuit of Ulster Targa contest

By Sammy Hamill

Faced with the ever-increasing costs of competing in motorsport events, Targa rallies are becoming ever more popular. Restricted to regular road cars, drivers don't even have to hold competition licences.

And now a group of Ulster motor clubs have banded together to stage the ultimate Targa rally which is aimed at raising money for the Northern Ireland Air Ambulance Service.

Called the Circuit of Ulster, it takes place on March 25 and will see crews select a starting point - Magherafelt, Coleraine or Larne - and navigate their way round a series of venues in the north of the province. Navigation will be by straight-forward 'tulip' diagrams to arrive at a series of timed test sites.

One of the leading exponents of Targa rallying is Robert Woodside, and his family firm, the Woodside Group, have stepped in as overall sponsors, allowing £100 of the £175 entry fee to go to the Air Ambulance charity. Already, close to 100 drivers have signed up, contributing nearly £10,000 to the charity so far.

Like many drivers who take part in Targa rallies, Woodside has opted for a road-going Mazda MX5 as opposed to the R5 Ford Fiesta or DS3 Citroen he has used on stage events such as the Circuit of Ireland.

But the range of cars is endless, from Mini Coopers to Toyota Starlets and all kinds in between - so long as they are road legal and two-wheel-drive.

Stephen McFerran of the Cookstown club is the clerk of the course but close to a dozen clubs from around Ulster have rowed in behind him to support the project which could see as many as 200 cars taking part.

And for those concerned their cars may not make it all the way round, Agnew Recovery Services will be on hand to provide free transportation back to their starting point.

Entry details are available on the Circuit of Ulster website and on Facebook.

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