The penultimate round of the 2015 Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Rally Championship, the Todds Leap Ulster Rally, begins today from its Enniskillen base. Donagh Kelly is within touching distance of taking his first tarmac championship title in his Focus WRC after showing great speed and consistency throughout the year. The Donegal driver who was runner up in the series back in 2013 has three wins to his name this year in Galway West Cork and Killarney which gives him a commanding 20 points lead to date. His closest rivals, Monaghan siblings, Sam Moffett & Josh Moffett are currently in second and third overall but are non-starting in Ulster which makes Kellys task more straightforward.
Garry Jennings has had a quiet year by his standards with a retirement in Galway leading to a long layoff until his stunning victory in Donegal. He will be looking to become the first driver to complete a hat trick of wins on the event and with the stages taking place in what is his home ground, he will be favourite for victory here as well. The new generation of R5 cars are represented by Jonny Greer, Joe McGonigle and Stephen Wright all who have achieved some good results this year. With Aaron McHale not competing on the Ulster Brendan Cumiskey has the chance to take the lead in the Group N category.
There are a number of other drivers to keep an eye out for, in particular Rob Duggan at 19 in a Fiesta R2 who is second in the Junior Championship but runs in the main field for this. The Billy Coleman Award nominee has shown a stunning turn of pace this year and should go well again. Callum Devine and Richard Tanahill are also getting quicker with each outing in the Opel Adam and Peugeot 208 respectively.
Frank Kelly has a chance to move into the lead of the Modified championship with Declan Gallagher not entering Ulster, both drivers are level on 32 points with just three rounds (including the Manx) remaining. Ross Hunter from Scotland is currently fifth in the standing sin his Peugeot 205 and a good result could leave him potentially leading the category. The Historic Championship promises to be even more competitive, with both Gareth Lloyd and Ernie Graham competing and only separated by four points at the top. Rob Smith has had a few non finishes this year but along with Adrian Kermode and John Coyne could have a big role to play when it comes to point gathering. Graham has had the edge in terms of speed over Lloyd but the Welshman has been very consistent in scoring throughout the season. John O’Sullivan leads the Junior Championship and will debut a new Fiesta R2 this weekend and another maximum score will see him edge closer to the title.
The action gets underway at 4.25pm Friday 14th August with four stages, Mallabeny Hill and Knockmany to be tackled twice. Eight more stages will follow tomorrow Saturday 15th in the Fermanagh / Tyrone area that saw Rally Ireland action back in 2009. The first car is due at the finish ramp at approximately 4.30pm Saturday.
You can keep up to date on Twitter (@irishtarmactroa), Facebook (Irish Tarmac Rally Championship), Smartphone App (Irish Tarmac Championship) and the championship website on www.irishtarmac.com. Live results also available from www.rallyscore.net and Patterson’s Rallynews will also be providing their service on www.rallynews.net.