Belfast Telegraph

Edwards is at the top again as he returns to new-look Ulster Rally


Newry-bound: British series joint leader Matt Edwards
Newry-bound: British series joint leader Matt Edwards

By Sammy Hamill

Matt Edwards, who won last year on his way to becoming British champion, will return to a new-look Ulster Rally next month.

The Welshman, who has just moved into the joint lead in this year's BRC series, will face only one day of competitive mileage on August 17 instead of the Ulster's traditional two-day format as the organisers look to shake up the event.

It also moves to Newry for the first time and will have a new sponsor in locally-based S&W Wholesale, who operate the Today's shop franchise.

Newry High School on the Ashgrove Road will be the venue for the event's service park and rally finish with the neighbouring Albert Basin Park the backdrop for the ceremonial start. Banbridge will host three separate regroups.

Officially listed for August 16 and 17, the first day (Friday) will be restricted to scrutineering and a shakedown stage with all the competitive element made up of nine stages covering 95 miles.

"The Ulster Rally has a tradition of moving around and we are pleased to make Newry our base for the first time," said event director Richard Swanston. "The stages are a mix of previous classics with some new sections; they will provide a great challenge.

"In addition to the main field, we are introducing the Ulster Cup Rally this year. It will run over two of the three legs and is open to all competitors, including Junior drivers."

Edwards took maximum points from the Ypres Rally in Belgium to share top spot in the table with another Welshman, Tom Cave. Scot David Bogie is third with Marty McCormack the best placed home driver in fourth place.

The rally is also a round of the Irish Tarmac Championship in which Craig Breen leads from two Ulster drivers, Alastair Fisher and Callum Devine.

Meanwhile, Damien Toner will be bidding for a record fifth win in a row in the North Armagh Club's Rainbow Communications Loughgall Rally tomorrow.

Based within Loughgall Country Park and starting at 9.30am, the rally entry list is led by Toner and is dominated by Mk2 Ford Escorts. Wesley Patterson, John Bradley, Adrian Hetherington, James Kennedy and Marty Toner complete the top six starters.

Belfast Telegraph


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