THIS WEEKEND the Fermanagh countryside will reverberate to the sound of loud exhausts, revving engines and screeching tyres as the 2014 Todds Leap Ulster Rally blasts into action.
The rally, with an entry list of over 140 crews including last year’s winner, and local favourite Garry Jennings, takes place on Friday, August 15 and Saturday, August 16 on roads across Fermanagh and South Tyrone.
In addition to the stages on public roads there will be a special spectator stage at St Angelo airfield to give rally fans the chance to get up close to the crews and their machines.
The battle for the Ulster Rally crown is expected to be hotly contested with current Irish Tarmac Championship leader Declan Boyle, last year’s Ulster winner Garry Jennings and the always quick Donagh Kelly vying for overall victory.
Also making a return to the Ulster stages is three times winner Eugene Donnelly who secured a last minute place in a Subaru Impreza S14.
To facilitate the rally, which runs on public roads, a number of roads in the Enniskillen and Topped Mountain area will be closed on Friday, August 15. Affected roads have been advertised in local press and residents will already have been informed.
The Ulster Historic section of the rally always provides motorsport fans with a feast for the eyes and the ears and this year rally legend Jimmy McRae in the Vauxhall Firenza and British Historic Championship frontrunner Dessie Nutt in the Porsche 911 will be trying hard to break the Ford stranglehold of previous years.
The Ulster National Rally has attracted another bumper entry and spectators will be in for a treat with the array of machinery on show. Heading the national charge is NI Championship leader Derek McGarrity in his Mini WRC. McGarrity is joined by Alan Carmichael in another Mini WRC and Paddy McVeigh in a Subaru Impreza WRC.
The fans’ favourite, Moy’s Frank Kelly is back to catch the eye in his spectacular ‘Baby Blue’ Mk II Escort, which he piloted to victory in 2012, and he can expect stiff competition from Wesley Patterson, Alistair Cochrane, Declan Gallagher and Shane McGirr to name just a few.
Spectators will have the chance to get up close and personal with the drivers, the cars and the action again this year at the Lakeland Tyres Spectator Special Stage at St Angelo airfield, just outside Enniskillen, which will provide drivers with the chance to impress their fans at close quarters.
Backed by title sponsor Todds Leap, Fermanagh District Council, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, the Fisher Foundation and a number of local businesses, the award winning two day event caters for all the premier British and Irish Rally Championships, including the MSA British Rally Championship, the Irish Tarmac, MSA British and Irish Historic and the Northern Ireland Rally Championships, and it is sure to provide a thrilling weekend of rally action when it gets underway with a ceremonial start on Friday, August 15 at 1pm.