He won last year but Eamonn Boland will not be in the line-up for this year’s Ulster Rally in two weeks time.
It was the fourth of Boland’s five victories in 2008, and the first-ever by a southern driver, as he took the Irish Tarmac championship for the first time. But with this year’s title already out of his grasp after a disappointing run of results, Boland is bringing his season to a premature end.
He is not expected to compete on the final round in Cork in October and may tackle an overseas event instead.
But the Wexford driver apart, the main players in the chase for this year’s Tarmac crown, including Eugene Donnelly and his closest challenger Gareth MacHale, will be in action on the August 21/22 Toddsleap.com-sponsored event along with other potential front-runners like Derek McGarrity, Tim McNulty and Glenn Allen.
The Antrim-based rally is also a critical round of the British championship in which young Cork driver Keith Cronin is locked in battle with Manxman Mark Higgins.
They have won two rounds each so far and are level on points as they come to Ulster for the penultimate event in the series.
And it will be an important home round for up-and-coming Ulster drivers Alastair Fisher, Jonny Greer and Marty McCormack who hold three of the next four places in the championship standings.
An unexpected ‘wild card’ in the BRC entry list is Welsh veteran Gwyndaf Evans, winner of the event 20 years ago, who will be teamed with young Scot David Bogie in a pair of the latest Evo X Mitsubishi Lancers.
Meanwhile, fresh from finishing eighth on Rally Finland last weekend, Matthew Wilson, son of Ford World championship team boss Malcolm Wilson, will take part in the Clonmel-based Stonethrowers Rally on Sunday as part of the development programme for the new R2 Ford Fiesta.