French in favour of Ulster Rally battle
French car giants Peugeot and Renault look set to go head-to-head on the Todds Leap Ulster Rally in August.
Peugeot have confirmed their latest rally car, the 208 R3T, will make its world debut on the Antrim-based round of the British Championship and it has also been revealed that rivals Renault are considering sending their new R4 Megane to the rally.
The drivers are still unknown, but the Ulster route to unveiling new rally cars has been used in the past by Citroen.
In 2008 their C2R2 Max was launched with Sebastien Ogier driving and in 2010 the DS3 made it first appearance in the hands of Bryan Bouffier.
Now it is the new generation of Peugeots, the 208, which was recently tested by Ulster’s former Intercontinental Challenge champion Kris Meeke.
Could he drive it on the Ulster Rally? No one is saying but he has strong links with Peugeot, having won the IRC title for them in 2009 and is presently sidelined.
Omagh’s Mark Donnelly is this season’s leading Renault driver in the British series, winner of the opening round, the Sunseeker Rally, and fourth in the standings heading into his home round.
He was in attendance as new clerk of the course Louis Boyd outlined plans for the 2012 event at the Junction One shopping complex which will again be the hub for the August 17-18 rally.
He revealed a route that is 80 per cent new, but it will again include the classic Tor Head stage on the north Antrim coast.
It will be run in five divisions and count towards the two major championships, the BRC and the Irish Tarmac, as well as the British historic championship, the Northern Ireland championship and the UK and Irish Citroen Trophy competitions.
For the first time, the national category which includes the NI championship, will be headed up by a female clerk of the course, Louise Hannon.
The line-up will include 18-year-old Omagh schoolgirl Amy Cox, the youngest ever female competitor when she finished sixth in the national category last year.