Belfast Telegraph

Ulster Rally chiefs delighted to return to Antrim town base

 

By Sammy Hamill

The 2018 Ulster International Rally is returning to Co Antrim after a six-year gap.

Now the only round of the British and Irish Tarmac championships to be staged here, it takes place on August 17-18 and will be centred in Antrim town with support from Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.

In the past the rally has been based at the Junction One shopping complex but with extensive modernisation work being carried out there, the organising team have switched the John Mulholland Motors-sponsored event to the town centre and will use the scenic Castle Gardens for the start and finish venues.

"Junction One has been a very popular base in the past but with the work going on there it wasn't possible to go back this year. However, I'm more than happy that Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council have made the award-winning Castle Gardens available to us," said clerk of the course Philip Murray.

The Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Paul Hamill, added: "It is fantastic news that we are supporting the rally and bringing it back to the Borough. The last time we hosted the event in 2012, almost £1million of economic benefit was generated and we hope to increase this for 2018."

The rally, which was won last year by current British champion Keith Cronin, will also feature re-group controls in Ballyclare and Randalstown with the route expected to include many of the classic Co Antrim stages.

Cronin is again one of a number of Irish drivers challenging for the British title and is expected to be joined in the Ulster line-up by locals like Marty McCormack, Jonny Greer and top junior William Creighton.

They next head to Belgium for the Ypres Rally before taking on the Ulster challenge in August.

The battle for the Irish Tarmac Championship is developing into a tight fight between the Moffett brothers, Josh and Sam, and Robert Barrable with just two points separating the top three after the first three rounds.

Greer and Desi Henry are the leading Ulster contenders.

Belfast Telegraph

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