Robert Barrable was an interested but frustrated spectator as Garry Jennings swept to victory in the Todds Leap Rally NI at the weekend.
He would loved to have been out on the roads challenging the Kesh driver but he had made his decision and had to stick with it.
That decision was to forgo the opportunity of a first British championship win and concentrate instead on the Barum Rally Zlin, an Intercontinental Challenge round starting tomorrow.
“Originally the plan was to try to do both rallies but we quickly realised that wasn’t possible,” said the 22-year-old Swords driver, who has been an impressive front-runner since switching to an S2000 Skoda Fabia after winning the UK and Irish Citroen Trophy championships last season.
And it is the S2000 switch which is taking him to the Czech Republic, home round of IRC champions Skoda.
Barrable caught the eye of the Skoda hierarchy when he made his IRC debut on the Ypres Rally in Belgium in June, finishing 10th but running as high as fifth in his privateer Fabia, and they invited him to their home event.
“It is such a great opportunity to go and do one of Europe’s top rallies I couldn’t turn it down even though it meant missing out on Ulster,” he explained.
“I went up to watch but it was very frustrating; I wanted to be part of it and trying for the win.
“But I have to say Garry drove really well and it would have been interesting to see how I would have done against him.”
Barrable is joined in the Czech Republic by a buoyed-up Craig Breen, the 2010 Rally NI winner who, having elected to miss this year’s event, recorded his first World Championship Academy victory of the season on Rally Deutschland.
Having won in his R2 Academy Ford Fiesta, Breen now switches back to his Ulster-winning S2000 version for a rally that is new to both him and Barrable.
“I’ve watched DVDs of the rally and the terrain looks very similar to Ireland so Robert and I should feel pretty much at home,” said Breen.