Adrien Fourmaux had to call upon every ounce of his FIA World Rally Championship know-how to seal a historic and well-deserved win on his first visit to the Modern Tyres Ulster Rally last weekend.
Fourmaux and team-mate Alexandre Coria completed the event comfortably ahead of runners-up Callum Devine and Noel O’Sullivan having been separated at one point by only 7.4 seconds.
After ten special stages – around half of which featured strong winds and standing water – the gulf between Fourmaux’s Ford Fiesta Rally2 and Devine’s Volkswagen Polo R5 was 47.7 seconds.
The significance of the result – Fourmaux’s fourth straight maximum score in this season’s British Rally Championship – was not lost on the Frenchman, who made reference to his boss triumphing on the same event in 1993 and again in 1994 at the wheel of a Michelin Pilot Ford Escort Cosworth.
“This is really a famous rally, so it is pretty nice to win here,” he said. “I think M-Sport won here something like thirty years ago with Malcom Wilson – so it is special to be able to repeat that.”
Devine also ended the Northern Ireland Motor Club event a winner. First of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship drivers home meant that he did more than enough to wrap up a first ever Tarmac title with team-mate Noel O’Sullivan – the reigning British Rally Championship winning co-driver.
“It was a different rally for us this time around,” said Devine. “We were looking after the car and trying to manage the Championship rather than trying to go for the outright win and to be honest that is not something that is easy to do as we found out but the Tarmac title makes it worthwhile.”
A late turn of speed took Jonathan Greer – this year’s Northern Ireland Rally champion – past the Ford Fiesta Rally2 of Cathan McCourt on the penultimate stage and the Citroen C3 Rally2 driver consolidated the place over ‘Mount Pleasant Two’ to finish just 3.2 seconds behind Devine’s Polo.
There was also a late change of positions from fifth to seventh as outgoing Tarmac champion Josh Moffett slipped two spots on the last speed test to the benefit of Jason Mitchell and Robert Barrable.
In the class battles, Jason Black and Karl Egan were the Modified winners in their rear-wheel-drive Toyota Starlet from the Ford Escort Mk2 of Damian Toner, whilst Kyle White steered his Rally4-spec Peugeot 208 to success in the Junior British Rally field from Kyle McBride’s Ford Fiesta Rally4.
Speaking at the conclusion of the 46th Modern Tyres Ulster Rally, Clerk of the Course Wayne Turkington said: “When ‘Storm Betty’ arrived on Friday afternoon it made conditions tricky for organisers and incredibly challenging for crews with lots of rain and strong winds. Thankfully, when the weather front moved on the picture improved for Saturday and the sun came out.
On behalf of the organising committee, I would like to everyone who played their part in making the event such a huge success, from Modern Tyres and all our sponsors, competitors and all the volunteers, I want to say massive thank you.”
RESULTS – MODERN TYRES ULSTER RALLY
1 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (Ford Fiesta Rally2) 1h 35m 30.9s
2 Callum Devine/Noel O’Sullivan (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5) +47.7s
3 Jonny Greer/Niall Burns (Citroen C3 Rally2) +50.9s
4 Cathan McCourt/Dean O’Sullivan (Ford Fiesta Rally2) +57s
5 Jason Mitchell/Paddy McCrudden (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5) +2m 46.6s
6 Robert Barrable/Gordon Noble (Citroen C3 Rally2) +2m 50.7s
7 Josh Moffett/Andy Hayes (Hyundai i20 N Rally2) +2m 52.8s
8 Garry Pearson/Daniel Barritt (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5) +4m 57.5s
9 Neil Roskell/Rob Fagg (Ford Fiesta Rally2) +7m 2.2s
10 Jason Black/Karl Egan (Toyota Starlet) +8m 4.1s