Andy Ulster

Andy Davies and Michael Gilbery celebrate Group N honours on the Ulster

            On the 17th of August the ever-popular Ulster rally took place, a very popular tarmac event with a long history in the rallying calendar. Making up the penultimate round of the Irish tarmac rally championship this event once again attracted entrants from Lampeter and district motor club. Seeded at number 14 in their an R5 specification Skoda fabia instead of their regular Hyundai i20, were Meirion Evans and Jonathon Jackson. This young pairing has been doing very well this year picking up excellent results on the Irish tarmac and were hoping to add to that tally here. They were out for points in the Irish tarmac championship. At 22 was Andy Davies with regular partner Michael Gilbey who were once again aiming for class position in their familiar group N specification Subaru Impreza, and were out to hopefully score as many points as possible for their Irish tarmac championship bid. Also competing was regular navigator Llion “tractor” Williams who was once again in the passenger seat for Duncan Williams in Duncan’s historic specification Mk2 Ford escort. They were seeded at 74.

                On the opening stage of the rally Meirion and Jonathon used it as an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the car so their pace was quick but cautious on what were demanding conditions, although their time of 9 minutes and 0.9 seconds was more than respectable. Andy and Michael struggled on the opening stage with the wrong tyre choice although set a good time of 9 minutes and 59 seconds. Duncan and Llion once again got off to a good start in their escort and began their rally with a time of 9 minutes and 58.6 seconds.

On the second stage of the day Meirion and Jonathon lost some time overshooting a corner in the Skoda, even so they still managed a highly respectable time of 12 minutes and 40.3 seconds here. Andy and Michael were playing catch up after the struggles of the first stage and began to chip away at the time they had lost. Their time for the second stage was 13 minutes 46.4 seconds. On the third stage of the rally Meirion and Jonathon continued to push hard and become more familiar with the new car. Their time was 8 minutes and 11.1 seconds. Andy and Michael were now charging through the stages and set an incredible time of 8 minutes and 49.5 seconds, which was a full 16 seconds ahead of their nearest rival. Duncan and Llion continued their excellent pace in the little escort and were once again involved in a battle for historic rally honours. Their time for the third stage was 9 minutes and 11.7 seconds

                Following this there was a service halt giving crew an opportunity to carry out any repairs and servicing on the cars before heading back into the Irish lanes. On the next few stages all club members pushed hard and were all swapping times with their class rivals al afternoon, everyone was going at a phenomenal pace with very stiff competition.

                Meirion and Jonathon continued to set excellent times, with a time of 8 minutes and 37.7 seconds over the 14.45km test that made up stage 4. Andy and Michael were involved in a battle for group N honours once again as they swapped times with their rivals in class, they were involved in an intense battle, and achieved a time of 9 minutes and 26.6 seconds on stage 4. Duncan and LLion set another highly respectable time of 9 minutes and 53.9 seconds I their historic specification car. For the following stages all club members carried on with impressive times. The pace of the rally was very high with no room for error.

For the final loop of stages (7, 8 and 9) Andy risked running a tyre that was suited to the latter stages but knew they were not ideal for stage 7. The tactic paid off and sure enough Andy and Gilbey both managed to set the quickest times on both of those stages, where they managed to set seventh quickest overall time in the international rally on stage 9 with a time of 8 minutes and 29.4 seconds, they were only beaten by R5 specification cars. This gave Andy and Michael the win in group N and in ITRC2, an excellent result for them in what is their first year in tarmac rallying. They were to finish in an excellent 18th overall. They now lie neck and neck at the top of the table in group N in the Irish tarmac championship which is to be decided on the final round in Cork in a few weeks’ time.

For Meirion and Jonathon they kept up the pace whilst keeping their noses out of trouble. Their reward for their efforts was an excellent fourth overall and 3rd in the Irish tarmac championship, an excellent result for them especially given the unfamiliarity of the car they were using.

Duncan and Llion continued to push on in their escort for the remaining stages, by setting consistently quick times they ended their rally in an excellent 38th overall and 6th in the historic rally as well as 4th in class. An excellent result for them.

With thanks to Andy Davies for the image for this report.