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Title chasers on course for crucial championship points battle on the Ulster Rally

 

By Sammy Hamill

Almost all the leading contenders in both the Irish Tarmac and British Rally Championships are already listed as the John Mulholland Motors Ulster Rally entry deadline approaches.

Matt Edwards and Keith Cronin, the leading drivers in the British series, are entered, as are the Moffetts, Josh and Sam, who head the Irish standings.

The notable absentee is Robert Barrable, who holds third place in the Tarmac series. He crashed out on the previous round, the Donegal International, his R5 Ford Fiesta hitting a concrete post on Knockalla.

It was only later that Barrable discovered he had suffered a leg fracture when the post penetrated through the driver's door.

The Swords motor trader has indicated he intends to be in Antrim for the August 17 start to the John Mulholland Motors sponsored event but has still to make a final decision.

The Moffetts are separated by just one point, Josh leading elder brother Sam, with Barrable a further 15 behind.

Three Ulster drivers - Jonny Greer, Eugene Donnelly and Desi Henry - fill the next three positions and all are in the entry list for the rally.

Edwards is something of a surprise leader of the British Championship but the Welsh driver has taken full advantage of his switch to the M-Sport Ford team by winning the Pirelli International and gaining maximum BRC points from the Ypres Rally in Belgium.

Cork native Cronin, who won the British title for a fourth time last year with the Ford team, moved to Hyundai in a last minute deal but still managed to finish third on this season's opening Pirelli round in his first outing in the car.

He looked sure to take top points in Belgium until a last stage puncture dropped him back to third behind Edwards and David Bogie.

The Scot, who was champion in 2011, is now fifth in the standings and showed his intent to mount a serious challenge by taking part in the Down Rally earlier this month in preparation for the Ulster trip.

He was in the thick of the battle with winner Greer and Henry until power steering failure side-lined his R5 Skoda Fabia.

Backed by Antrim and Newtownabbey Council, the rally returns to Antrim town for the first time since 2012.

Belfast Telegraph

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