Rally cars to hit roads of Down this weekend

Rally cars to hit roads of Down this weekend

18 July 2018

MOTORSPORT fans are revving with anticipation ahead of this Saturday’s eagerly awaited Down Rally.

Rathfriland Motor Club has joined forces with Ballynahinch and District Motor Club to co-promote and organise the rally which was first held in 2005.

Saturday’s event will be a closed road rally with over 100 stage miles run on high quality, famous stages, with the hugely popular event also boasting a new main sponsor, Carryduff Forklift. 

The Down Rally — which includes the famous Hamilton’s Folly stage near Leitrim — is a round of the British Protyre MSA Asphalt Rally 2018 Championship.  

Consisting of six rounds, the championship covers Britain, the Isle of Man and Belgium with the Down Rally being the only round of the championship taking place in Northern Ireland.

David Bogie, the 2011 British rally champion and five-time Sottish rally champion — who is the only driver to hold both titles at the same time —is using the event as practice for the Ulster rally which takes place in August. 

The 30-year old Dumfries driver will be co-driven by John Rowan in his Skoda Fabia R5.

Melvyn Evans and Mark Glennerster are seeded at number one in their Ford Fiesta World Rally Car and seeded at number two are Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke in their Bet On Aces Manx National winning North Road Garage Ford Focus WRC, with the duo out to regain the series lead. 

The top three is completed by Bogie and Rowan, who scored second place points in their ŠKODA Fabia R5 last time out on the Belgium round, Rally van Wervik. 

Daniel Harper and Chris Campbell — who are third in the overall standings — aim to continue their great run of form in their John Cooper Works Mini WRC, while Stephen Simpson and Patrick Walsh will be in a Subaru Impreza WRC 12b.

Ahead of Saturday’s event, deputy clerk of the course, Brian Crawford, said the Protyre Asphalt Rally Championship has attracted a number of crews who will be competing in their first Northern Ireland rally.

“It will even be the first time several of the crews have visited Co Down,” he continued. “It is a real privilege to welcome the Protyre Asphalt Championship to our local stages.”  

Rally headquarters and the service park will be based in and around the Eikon Exhibition Centre at Balmoral Park near Lisburn.

Saturday’s Down Rally will also be a counting round of the MSA Asphalt Rally Championship and the MSA Northern Ireland Rally Championship.