Ulster’s young aces set for Pirelli shoot-out
Having sat out the Circuit of Ireland in favour of their British championship ambitions, the young guns of Irish rallying are back in force for the Pirelli International, starting from Carlisle tomorrow evening.
And in an entry list which again reflects the British rules of giving priority to two-wheel-drive cars, it is two of Ulster’s fastest-rising young stars who top the starting order.
But this time is it is Mark Donnelly, from Omagh, who is No 1 seed ahead of Draperstown’s Marty McCormack.
Both in new cars run by foreign teams for round two, they battled second-for-second through the Welsh forests of the Bulldog Rally before 19-year-old Donnelly in a Finnish Renault Clio snatched victory on the final stage from McCormack’s French Sainteloc Citroen DS3 in the R3 category.
Waterford’s Craig Breen, last year’s Ulster Rally winner, makes it an all-Irish one-two-three at the top of the entry list.
Under the new rules, the potentially rally-winning four-wheel-drive cars start further back which means the Super 2000 Skoda Fabias of Carryduff’s Jonny Greer and Dublin’s Robert Barrable start at numbers 28 and 29 respectively.
However, with both drivers steadily gaining experience of their Skodas, which are new to British rallying this season, they are expected to be in the mix for outright victory against the winners of rounds one and two, Scottish champion David Bogie in his Mitsubishi, and young Welshman Elfyn Evans in his Pirelli Star Driver Subaru.
Desi Henry (Ford Fiesta) and Daniel Barry (Mitsubishi) also make the trip to the Kielder forest complex along with a contingent of drivers in the historic category including Dessie Nutt, Derek Boyd and Keith McIvor in their Porsches.