Belfast Telegraph

Strong Irish line-up will aim to deny Ahlin in the Ulster Rally

Top of the entry list

By Sammy Hamill

Sweden's Fredrik Ahlin heads the line-up for next week's Ulster International Rally but the top of the entry list is dominated by Irish drivers - seven of them seeded in the first 10.

Ahlin, already winner of three rounds in his R5 Skoda Fabia, leads the British Championship but disappointingly only Welshmen Osian Pryce, his closest rival in the points table, Matt Edwards and Reece Yates will be making the trip to Londonderry.

There have been no entries from David Bogie or from Tom Cave, two potential winners.

Multi-Scottish champion Bogie, a regular visitor to Irish rallies, has bowed out of the BRC series after his hopes of another British title were effectively ended with an accident in the Belgian round and Welshman Cave has opted to focus on the WRC2 division of the World Championship.

It leaves Ahlin and Pryce to take on a strong home contingent which is split between challengers in the British series and the Irish Tarmac Championship.

Alastair Fisher gets the No.2 spot courtesy of his second place behind Elfyn Evans in last year's Ulster Rally and Sam Moffett, who leads him by eight points in the Tarmac series, is at No.3 ahead of Pryce, a past winner of Rally NI.

Keith Cronin, the reigning Irish champion, has switched to the British Championship this year with the M-Sort Ford team and is seeded fifth.

In fourth place in the table and still not out of the title chase, he will be one of Ahlin's biggest rivals for BRC points, as will another home favourite, Marty McCormack, who is at seven in his Skoda Fabia behind the Hyundai i20 of Robert Barrable.

Jonny Greer (Citroen DS3), Desi Henry (Skoda Fabia) and Stephen Wright (Ford Fiesta) complete the top 10.

Further down the starting list are two of the rising stars of Ulster rallying, Callum Devine and William Creighton, who are joint leaders of the British Junior Championship.

Their rivals include the likes of Merion Evans, Marty Gallagher and Oscar Solberg, who is the son of Norwegian WRC star Henning Solberg.

But the list of significant absentees includes recent winners like Garry Jennings, Donagh Kelly and the current Northern Ireland champion Derek McGarrity, who have preferred to stick with their more powerful WRC cars which are ineligible for both the British and Tarmac Championships.

Also missing is Josh Moffett, who will follow up his eighth place on the Rzeszow Rally in Poland at the weekend by continuing his European Championship campaign on the Barum Rally in the Czech Republic later in the month.

Sponsored by the John Mulholland Motors Group, the Ulster Rally will be based at Ebrington Square in Londonderry and will start from the Guildhall at lunch time on Friday (August 18) for two days of action in the north west of the province.

The finish is back at Ebrington on Saturday evening.

1 Fredrik Ahlin and Torstein Eriksen (Skoda Fabia), 2 Alastair Fisher and Gordon Noble (Ford Fiesta), 3 Sam Moffett and Karl Atkinson (Ford Fiesta), 4 Osian Pryce and Dale Furniss (Ford Fiesta), 5 Keith Cronin and Mikey Galvin (Ford Fiesta), 6 Robert Barrable and Damien Connolly (Hyundai i20), 7 Marty McCormack and David Moynihan (Skoda Fabia), 8 Jonny Greer and Kirsty Riddick (Citroen DS3), 9 Desi Henry and Liam Moynihan (Skoda Fabia), 10 Stephen Wright and Arthur Kierans (Ford Fiesta), 11 Matt Edwards and Darren Garrod (Ford Fiesta), 12 Joe McGonigle and Ciaran Geaney (Skoda Fabia).

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