It’s a double win for Elfyn Evans at the end of the John Mulholland Motors Ulster Rally as he wins both the International Rally and the MSA British Rally Championship. Ironically, Elfyn’s dad Gwyndaf also claimed the BRC title exactly 20 years on the 1996 Ulster Rally.
Elfyn summed up the rally; “It’s been a really tough weekend with really difficult weather conditions. The stages were also very tricky but we’re really glad to be here having won both the Ulster and the Championship.”
Evans and co-driver, Craig Parry in their Ford Fiesta R5, led the rally on 11 out of the 14 stages but it was a hard won battle with both Alistair Fisher and Keith Cronin pushing hard on the slippery roads.
With intermittent rain all weekend, there were tough tyre choices to be made. Fisher held an initial advantage over the first 3 stages on Friday before collecting a puncture on stage 4. However he managed to pull himself back up from 5th place to 2nd overall to hand on to his lead of the 2016 Clonakilty Black Pudding Irish Tarmac Championship. He goes into the final round in Cork just 2 points ahead of Keith Cronin.
A great drive from Jonny Greer secured him third place overall. He put in a steady performance throughout the two day event then really pulled out the stops in the last few stages when he came under pressure from Keith Cronin.
Cronin was on course for second place at the end of the penultimate loop of stages but a gearbox change at the last service halt earned him a time penalty and knocking him back to 5th overall.
Road racer and 13 times TT winner, Michael Dunlop did himself proud on four wheels, winning his class and finishing 3rd overall in the National Rally. Event sponsor, John Mulholland in his Skoda Fabia S2000 also made steady progress although he dropping back from 22nd after a puncture on the third last stage, it dropped him down the field to finish 49th overall.
Cousins Kevin and Stephen Horgan in their Honda had a good run to win the Junior section of the rally following Rurai McCaffery and Seamus McTigue’s retirement with mechanical problems.
Garry Jennings, Sam Moffett and Stephen Wright all suffered mechanical issues which forced them into retirement on day two.
As sponsor John Mulholland said that it was a great event; “We’re pleased with how the rally has gone this year with lots of positive comments. It’s a good group of people and moving forward, we’ll get everyone together and see how we can build on the event making it bigger and stronger for next year.”
Commenting at the finish, Clerk of the course, Gary Milligan said; “This has been a tremendous weekend of motorsport and a great way to celebrate the Ulster Rally’s 40th year. The changeable weather conditions proved challenging for all the drivers, and the Organisers over the fourteen stages which made for an interesting event for rally fans”.
“I would like to congratulate not only the winners but everyone who supported the event whether they were a competitor, sponsor, spectator or one of the 800 volunteers that make the Ulster Rally such as success.”