The 2018 Prestone MSA British Rally Championship returns after its summer break this weekend with the John Mulholland Motors Ulster Rally where series leader Matt Edwards will be aiming for a hat trick of wins so far this season.
After taking victories in both the eventual season opening Pirelli International following the cancellation of the Border Counties Rally back in March and then last time out in Belgium on the Renties Ypres Rally, Edwards heads to Ireland with a 20-point advantage at the top of the championship standings over Keith Cronin.
The pair at the top looked set to again fight it out this weekend with defending champion Cronin hoping to make it a repeat of his win here 12 months ago, but the Irishman announced this week on social media that due to last minute budgetary issues, he will not be competing on the Irish tarmac.
This leaves Edwards with a golden opportunity to extend his lead at the top, but drivers such as Scotsman David Bogie will be looking to put a dent in the M-Sport driver’s title bid. The CA1-Sport driver took an encouraging second last time out in Belgium and will be hoping to go one better this weekend.
Martin McCormack has had a tough start to the season after salvaging fourth in Cumbria when suffering from a damaged gearbox and then the Irishman retired from second place on the Ypres event last time out. He will be hoping for a strong result in front of his home fans in the Skoda Fabia R5.
Rhys Yates has been combining his BRC season with several European rounds and this continues this weekend. The young driver is aiming to compete in Ireland this weekend before heading abroad for the Barum Czech Rally Zlín and is a driver who could easily be at the top of the timesheets in Ireland.
Along with McCormack, another local driver competing this weekend is Jonny Greer in a Ford Fiesta R5. Greer comes into this weekend having won the Down Rally in mid-July and is looking to make it three podium finishes in the last three years on his preferred stage surface of tarmac. BRC1 is rounded out by Alex Laffey who has started the season strongly and is constantly improving aboard the U-Student backed M-Sport Fiesta.
The Prestone Motorsport News Junior BRC sees 14 drivers entered this weekend with James Williams leading the class going into the second half of the season. After a dominating performance on the Belgian tarmac back in June, the Vauxhall Adam R2 driver will be aiming for another win this weekend.
Round one winner Steve Rokland, who sits six points behind Williams, is the leader of the chasing pack. James Wilson, who took third last time out, is a driver to watch as he continues to improve in the championship and could be on for a strong result this weekend. Another home driver, Josh McErlean, will be hoping to go one better than in Belgium and take the class win. Experienced BRCJ driver William Creighton is aiming to restart his title bid after retiring last time out and could be at the front in Ireland.
The Cadet BRC class this weekend will not see Bart Lang competing, leaving the door open for Jordan Reynolds and local driver Jonnie Mulholland to capitalise and take the lead of the very competitive class. Fred Field finished strongly in Belgium and the Opel Adam driver will be hoping to continue his momentum going into the third round of the season this weekend.
The 2018 John Mullholland Motors Ulster Rally takes place on Saturday August 17, with 11 stages and over 90km of stage miles.