Five-star show has Morrow in pole position
Published 04/09/2007 | 08:14
With a well 'oiled' performance, Phillip Morrow 'delivered' the result he needed on the Ulster International Rally.
Morrow now has one hand on his dream prize - a works drive with the Mitsubishi team in next season's British championship.
The 24-year-old from Lisburn, whose day job is delivering home heating oil for the family firm, finished seventh overall on the two-day Ulster event but more importantly he scored his fifth victory in the UK Mitsubishi Evo Challenge category.
It gives him an 18-point lead in a series which carries with it the opportunity to drive for the official Mitsubishi team, perhaps alongside World championship star Guy Wilks, in the 2008 championship.
Morrow now needs six points from the remaining two rounds - fewer than that if his closest rival, Welshman Sebastien Ling, fails to take maximum point from both events.
"It was an important win for me on my home round," said Morrow, a member of Britain's elite young driver squad, "but fair play to Sebastien, he hung in there and got second place, which keeps him in the picture.
"But I'm nearly there. One more good finish in the top five of the next two rounds and the prize is mine even if he wins both of them. It's a good position to be in and I can't wait for the next round, the Yorkshire International, on October 6.
"Fingers crossed, I can wrap it up in Yorkshire and then I won't have to worry about where the money is going to come from for next season."
His prize will be a works Mitsubishi Lancer, run by the official ADR team and with all the costs taken care of.
It is estimated to be worth around £250,000.
Morrow had admitted that without the works drive he would seriously have to consider quitting rallying at this level, the financial strain of £10,000 per event simply becoming too much even with the help of his sponsors and supporters.
But he sees the Mitsubishi prize as an opportunity to kick on and has ambitions of driving at World championship level.
"Rallying at World championship level is my ultimate goal and, hopefully, the chance to work with a top team like Mitsubishi will be a step in that direction," he added.
The Ulster Rally brought him an additional boost when, after finishing third highest of the British championship contenders, behind the Subaru of Mark Higgins and the works Mitsubishi of the driver he may replace next year, Gwyndaf Evans, Morrow was named Pirelli Star Driver of the event.
It means he goes forward to an and-of-season shoot-out with the Star winners from other rounds, including fellow Ulsterman Darren Gass, when the prize on offer will be another fully-funded drive for next season.
"I was delighted, and surprised, to get the Pirelli award because for me the Ulster Rally was all about finishing and not being heroic," said Morrow.
"But it gives me a second shot at securing a place in the British championship next year so my home event turned out to be even better than I had hoped."