Belfast Telegraph

Drivers Targa the chance to blow away post Christmas blues

 

By Sammy Hamill

It has probably set the record for the fastest oversubscribed entry list in Ulster motorsport. In little more than 19 hours after regulations were published for the Not The Boxing Day Rally, all the 140 starting places were filled with more on the waiting list.

As special stage events become ever more expensive, low cost Targa rallying is enjoying a boom, and none more so than the Ulster Automobile Club's annual apres-Christmas blow-out.

Going for more than 70 years, it was originally held on Boxing Day but, in recent times as the holiday period has extended, the organisers have given competitors extra time to recover from the festivities.

So, early next Wednesday morning a capacity entry will assemble at Edenmore Golf and Country Club in Craigavon for a full day of driving and speed tests, the field split into two 70-strong groups encompassing all divisions of motorsport from autotest experts to racing and rally drivers plus relative newcomers too.

Group one is headed by Will Corry and Peter Moreland-Moore, who won last year in their Mazda MX5, beating multi-autotest champion Eamonn Byrne and co-driver Anthony Preston by just a second.

The little Mazda sports car is the choice of so many regular Targa competitors, and MX5s make up nearly half of Wednesday's line-up in the hands of drivers like rally men Stephen Whitford, usually associated these days with preparing gravel notes on the World Championship for Citroen star Kris Meeke, and Northern Ireland Championship sponsor Fintan McGrady, as well as autotest champions Paul Mooney, who heads group two, and Steven Ferguson. And, of course, Byrne is back looking to avenge last year's narrow defeat.

It is very much a family affair too, with motorsport dynasties like the Woodsides out in force, led by former sprint, hillclimb and autotest champion Robert senior and his nephew Robert junior, a regular Targa winner, as well as members of the Brien clan ranging from dad Simon to daughter Tiffany, a former Miss Northern Ireland.

And swapping the special stages of the British Championship for Targa tests will be teenage Ulster Rally junior winner William Creighton.

Sponsored by Jordan Concrete, the rally is scheduled to start from Edenmore at 9am after a hearty breakfast, all included in the entry fee.

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