Rob Duggan doubling up in his bid to clinch British crown
Rob Duggan sprang to prominence when he won the Road to Wales competition in last year's Northern Ireland championship and this weekend he could be crowned British Junior champion on the Ulster Rally.
Duggan made long trips from Killarney to contest every round of the NI series, sometimes travelling back from Germany where he was working, and he edged out Fermanagh's Jon Armstrong in a nail-biting finish to earn himself a fully-funded drive in a Citroen DS3, supplied and run by the DGM team from Carryduff, on Britain's round of the World championship, Rally GB.
He subsequently won Motorsport Ireland's Billy Coleman Award and grabbed himself a place in the Vauxhall team for this season's British championship. He leads the Junior category by 25 points from Norwegian Sindre Furseth with Vauxhall team-mate Mattias Adielsson, from Sweden, third.
Duggan has won three of the five rounds so far and, with his double points joker card coming into play this weekend, he has the chance to clinch the Junior title ahead of the final event in the Isle of Man next month.
However, he faces fierce competition, not just from Furseth and Adielsson, but from a group of Irish drivers, too, including Callum Devine, Adam Bustard, Marty Gallagher and William Creighton.
Among the non-starters this afternoon will be 2010 winner Derek McGarrity whose WRC Ford Fiesta won't be ready in time.
The prize for winning the Junior series is a step up to the World championship with a supported drive in the DMACK Trophy series next season.
Meanwhile, Kris Meeke has been left disappointed after Rally China, due to be his next appearance in the World championship, was called off. Torrential rain and flooding damaged many of the roads to be used in the rally and the Chinese have announced they cannot be repaired in time for the start early next month.
The Dungannon driver is only taking part in selected rounds while he works on the development of Citroen's new C3 car for 2017. But he has won in Portugal and Finland and was looking forward to the Chinese event which had been included in the WRC series for the first time.