Belfast Telegraph

Robert turns down Ulster for Czech challenge

By Sammy Hamill

He would have been one of the favourites to win the Todds Leap Ulster Rally but Robert Barrable has opted out.

Instead the 22-year-old Billy Coleman Award winner from Swords will head to the Barum Rally Zlin in the Czech Republic later this month.

“Originally the plan was to try to do both rallies but that’s not going to be possible as they are just a week apart,” said Barrable who has made a major impact since switching to an S2000 Skoda Fabia after winning the UK and Irish Citroen Trophy championships last season.

Indeed, it is the exciting Skoda switch which is taking him to the Barum Rally, which is a round of the Intercontinental Challenge series.

It is the home round of IRC champions Skoda and after Barrable (pictured) made an impressive debut in the series on the Ypres Rally in Belgium — he finished 10th but ran as high as fifth in his privateer Fabia — team bosses then invited him to the prestigious Czech event.

“It is such a great opportunity to go and do one of Europe’s top rallies,” he said.

“But it is also the fact that I’m effectively out of the running for the British championship that made up my mind to concentrate on just one event.

“Retiring from the Jim Clark Rally in Scotland was the tipping point.

“I really needed to score good points there.

“But after taking the lead on the first stage, the alternator failed and that was it all over and effectively the end of my chances of winning the championship.

“If I had got the result in Scotland I was hoping for then it would have been important to go to Ulster.

“But as it is I think the best option is to take up the Skoda invitation to the Barum Rally.

“It is a pity, really, because I think I would have stood a good chance of winning in Ulster.

“But there are useful links to be forged with Skoda which could be important for the future.”

Barrable, one of the few drivers to successfully switch from racing to rallying — he was Irish Formula Ford champion at 18 — will also miss the Galway Summer Rally, round seven of the Irish national championship, to make the Czech trip.

Barrable recently won the Sligo Rally — the first by an S2000 car — and lies second in the series behind Tim McNulty.

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