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
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
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
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
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
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
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)