Daughter inspires dad's comeback
Published 21/03/2013 | 07:59
It has been more than a decade since Robin Phillips clinched the Northern Ireland rally championship on the final event of the season and almost as long since he last drove a rally car in anger.
But the former Volkswagen UK junior team driver is back for next week's Circuit of Ireland stand-in event, the Triton Showers Easter Rally – and it is all thanks to his daughter Laura.
"I have a 19-year-old daughter who is mad about motorsport," Phillips said.
"We did sweeper at the Mourne Rally last year in a Citroen DS3 and she loved it. So I promised her we'd do a rally together and this is it," he added.
"I'm hiring a Group N Mitsubishi from David Greer Motorsport but I'm dreading to see the speed the guys go nowadays.
"When you stand and watch production cars it doesn't look like they're going that quick but it's a different story inside the car."
It was in 2000 that Phillips won the NI series on board his Toyota Celica after a year-long battle with Denis Biggerstaff's Metro 6R4.
And he returns to action just as Biggerstaff's son, Stuart, who emulated his dad by winning the title in 2010, also makes a comeback after sitting out most of last season due to mechanical problems with his Subaru.
Phillips is seeded 34 and Biggerstaff 20 in a 110-strong entry list for the March 30 Easter National Rally which this year is taking the place of the international Circuit of Ireland.
The line-up is headed by reigning Irish Tarmac champion Darren Gass with five times Circuit winner and current NI champion Derek McGarrity at two and Declan Boyle, winner of the Mayo Rally 10 days ago, at three ahead of Garry Jennings, Kenny McKinstry, Donagh Kelly and rally sponsor Kevin Barrett.
It is an all-Subaru top seven with McGarrity and McKinstry in S14s, the last of the iconic Prodrive Imprezas.
Notable absentees are British champion Keith Cronin and record-equalling Tarmac champion Eugene Donnelly.
Cronin announced that he is planning to contest the new Citroen Top Driver series in the World championship's WRC3 category along with Alastair Fisher.
Top of the entry list: 1 D Gass (Subaru Impreza), 2 D McGarrity (Subaru Impreza), 3 D Boyle (Subaru Impreza), 4 G Jennings (Subaru Impreza), 5 K McKinstry (Subaru Impreza), 6 D Kelly (Subaru Impreza), 7 K Barrett (Subaru Impreza), 8 A Ring (Mitsubishi Evo), 9 J Moffett (Mitsubishi Evo), 10 S Moffett (Mitsubishi Evo), 11 P Morrow (Mitsubishi Evo), 12 P Hurson (Ford Escort), 14 J Leonard (Mitsubishi Evo), 15 C Bradley (Ford Escort), 16 F O'Meara (Ford Escort), 17 A Hetherington (Ford Escort), 18 G Robinson (Mitsubishi Evo), 19 W Patterson (Ford Escort), 20 S Biggerstaff (Subaru Impreza).