Todds Leap Ulster Rally 2012 at Junction 1

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DARREN Gass was crowned 2012 Todds Leap Ulster Rallly champion at a sun-splashed

Junction One in Antrim on Saturday evening after producing two days of seemless driving

to clinch his maiden victory in the prestigious event.

The Markethill man, driving a Subaru Impreza, who currently leads the Irish

Championship, was only behind once throughout after Derek McGarrity won the first stage

by just .2 of a second.

From that point on the pair went toe-to-toe until McGarritys retirement on stage 10, due to

mechanical problems, all but handed Gass the title.

With his main championship rival, Garry Jennings, suffering a frustrating first day without a

handbrake and receiving a 10 second penalty after missing a chicane on stage seven,

Gass cruised home to seal the overall win by a massive one minute 12.2 seconds.

And the Co Armagh man, co-driven by Enda Sherry, was delighted with the result after a

long weekend behind the wheel: Im very happy, delighted, because its a hard rally to

win, he beamed.

Its the one everyone wants to win so Im happy. And it means a whole lot for the Irish

Championship because we didnt get on too well in Donegal so it was nice to get a win and

keep [Garry] Jennings behind me.

I didnt come into the event expecting to win, but I did come into it knowing Id have to

drive as hard as I could. Derek [McGarrity] beat me by .2 of a second in the first stage, but

we led from then and it was a good race until he retired.

It felt as though a little bit of the pressure was lifted when he retired, but then I was a little

disappointed too because its harder to get to the finish when theres no one coming

behind you.

And although Jennings, co-driven by Rory Kennedy, who finished second overall, was

disappointed with the final result and by a frustrating day one, he was pleased by his turn

around in form on Saturday.

Im satisfied with second place after all the trouble we had on Friday night, said the Kesh

man, who also drove an Imprezza.

We were lucky to start the rally at all but we were fit to stay with them, even though we

spun twice on Friday night. We lost a lot of time and then we lost the brakes on Torr Head,

but the tyres were good and we had some fastest and second fastest times on Saturday.

To get two or three fastest times on the final day and the rest were second fastest gets

your confidence back, concluded Jennings, who finished ahead of third placed Daragh

ORiordan, who also suffered a 10 second penalty on stage seven for missing the same

chicane.

Rally NI ended similarly to the Ulster Rally, with Keith Cronin, in a Citroen DS3 R3 T

alongside Marshall Clarke, romping home ahead of the field by just over one minute and

27 seconds.

Cronin and Clarke were delighted at the end of Rally NI, with Marshall saying: Its

absolutely magic to win your home event. It is really special as I have marshalled on this

event when it was the Ulster and now to win sitting beside Keith is a great feeling.The

current British championship leader led from start to finish, dominating proceedings

throughout to take the win ahead of the impressive Elfyn Evans, who did well to finish

second in a Ford Fiesta R2, while another Welshman, Osian Pryce, was third in another

Citroen.

While that trio enjoyed success in Antrim over the weekend there was disappointed for one

local man, Omaghs Mark Donnelly, who was in championship contention coming into the

Ulster Rally, but he was forced to retire prior to the final stage after a difficult weekend.

He suffered clutch problems throughout, but still managed to compete in the top 10 before

a different mechanical issue forced him out of the event, along with double British

champion, Guy Wilks, who debuted the Renault Twingo R2 Evo.

Said Donnelly after the event: We struggled with the clutch throughout the whole rally and

lost a lot of time on Friday night, but then we had to retire because of something

completely different!

It was hard, but we showed some good pace at time, so Im quite happy with that. If it

wasnt for the problems I dont think wed have lost as much time, but its easy saying that

now.

Its really difficult when your confidence is knocked by something like that. We only had a

small chance of the British title at this stage, but on tarmac its very difficult against the

Citroens on tarmac.

But we came here, we gave it a shot, but what can you do?

Meanwhile in the Ulster Historic Rally, Tomas Davies and Julian Reynolds enjoyed an

exciting battle for the title, exchanging places on top of the timing boards on regular

occasions before the latter co-driven by Patrick Walsh, in his Ford Escort RS1600, sealed

the victory with a 5.2 second final stage win.

And like the overall event, the National Rally also had a first time winner in the form of

Frank Kelly and navigator Russel Harold, driving a Ford Escort Mk II RS, who held off the

concerted challenges of Derek McGeehan in his Mini WRC and Camillus Bradley in a

Ford Escort Mk II to claim the title on his debut at the event by just 6.1 seconds.

And the Challenge Rally was won, relatively comfortably, by Richard Sykes and co-driver

Simon Taylor in a Citroen C2 R2 Max, ahead of Jon Armstrong and Russ Thompson.

For full results from each stage and each event, visit www.ulsterrally.com

(Article from Ulsterrally.com)

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