After a strong showing at the previous round in Belgium which saw Welshman James Williams take the JBRC victory by over eight minutes and dominating the RC4 class, the rapid pilot will return to an EDSL Sport 2019 Ford Fiesta RT2 Mk8 for the blast across the Northern Ireland roads. Joining him will be Irishman Marty Gallagher who showed an impressive pace in Europe, handing EDSL Sport a one-two for much of the opening day and will be hoping to make up for a non-finish at the event.
Both Williams and Gallagher will be aiming to shake up the scoreboards as they vie for a 60,000 Euro prize fund towards a season in the Junior World Rally Championship in 2020, offered by M-Sport Poland and Pirelli.
Heading into the British Rally Championship for the first time is rookie driver Rupert Flynn who will field one of the firm’s first-generation Ford Fiesta R2’s in the Cadet Cup, the category designed for newcomers. Flynn will be contesting only his third ever event and despite his lack of experience, has his eyes on the Cadet Cup title.
Hampshire based EDSL Sport has grown from strength to strength since their launch towards the end of last season. The acquisition of two brand new Fiesta R2T’s from M-Sport and their impressive business model led them to become official M-Sport re-sellers for the popular Fiesta in the UK. They are the go-to firm for motorsport hire, maintenance and service as well as fielding an impressive line-up for the forthcoming Newry based event.
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But Gallagher is eager to perform a little closer to home in the Fiesta.
“Of course, I’m looking forward to getting back out in the Fiesta, it’s been way too long since Ypres,” he says.
“It will be great to compete in Ulster, but it has to be better than last year. In 2018 we lost the brakes on the first stage and it went downhill from there; literally, with a small detour into a bog. But look, we are on home soil now, and that means proper roads again. Just a few months ago at West Cork, we were leading the Juniors (BRC) until a rather sudden meeting with a 100-year-old tree which put us out. If we have the same pace this weekend again, I don’t think we will be far away.”
Gallagher thinks the Fiesta will be the perfect tool for the tight and twisty Northern Ireland roads.
“For sure, the Fiesta appears to be a good car and it worked really well in Belgium. Let’s see how it can perform on the narrow roads here”.
James Williams has drafted in Dai Roberts to the co-driver’s seat and Rupert Flynn will be partnered by JBRC regular Peredur Wyn Davies. Team Principle Alex Waterman believes that he has one of the strongest teams in the series heading to Ulster.
“We have been working very hard behind the scenes for almost 12 months on EDSL Sport and I think it’s fair to say that the team we will be taking to Ulster is one of the best yet for the business,” he says.
“Each crew has its own merits and individual strengths and if you put that all together, then without sounding too confident, I think we have a really good chance of taking another JBRC win to add to the Ypres result. James’s (Williams) pace in Belgium was unrivalled and Marty (Gallagher) also showed he could compete at the front so bringing them back a little closer to home will certainly help. Rupert (Flynn) will have a lot of learning to do in the older specification Fiesta but there is no doubt from his performances so far that he has a very impressive pace.”
After shakedown and the ceremonial start on Friday 16th, the Today’s Ulster Rally packs over 93 miles of competitive driving into nine stages on Saturday 17th, with three loops of three forming the route before the finish celebrations in Newry town at around 6 pm on Saturday.