Ulster's young guns all set to hit target as series hots up
Craig Breen, Marty McCormack and Darren Gass lead the Irish challenge on the Ypres Rally this weekend but it is a trio of young Ulster drivers who could steal the limelight.
Josh McErlean, William Creighton and James Wilson in their little R2 class Peugeots have dominated the opening rounds of the British Junior Championship and hold the top three placings in the standings as the series shifts across to Belgium for the fourth round.
McErlean has scored back-to-back victories in the past two rounds and Wilson, Motorsport Ireland's 2018 Billy Coleman Award winner, began the series with a win on the Cambrian Rally in Wales, the pair of them pocketing £7,500 in Peugeot prize money.
The consistent Creighton sits in second place, just 11 points behind leader McErlean.
Now they are in Flanders for the deceptively difficult Ypres Rally, one of Europe's most historic and prestigious events.
Kilrea teenager McErlean made it onto the podium last year and now has his sights set on making it a hat-trick of BRC wins ahead of the series returning to Northern Ireland for the Ulster Rally in August.
The overall championship is led by Tom Cave ahead of fellow Welshman Matt Edwards, the reigning champion, and Scot David Bogie. McCormack is in fourth place in his Skoda Fabia and looking to make up ground on one of his favourite rallies.
Breen, who will drive an R5 VW Polo for the first time, and former Irish Tarmac champion Gass are not championship contenders but are keen to take on some of Europe's best drivers, including 11-times Ypres winner Freddy Loix.
Meanwhile, there is a depleted entry list for Sunday's Raven's Rock Rally, the fifth round of the Irish National Championship, following the tragedy - the death of Manus Kelly - and dramas of last weekend's Donegal International.
Josh Moffett, the leader of the series, heads the entry list in the WRC Ford Fiesta in which brother Sam won in Donegal, but two former champions, Declan Boyle and Donagh Kelly, are missing, as is Derry's Joe McGonigle.
Roy White is 12 points behind Moffett and starts at No.2, with Welshman Hugh Hunter at three.