With the town of Enniskillen once again playing host to the Ulster Rally it would throw up an interesting format this year running under a national permit. The event would run as a complete field as opposed to 5 seperate rallies as had been the case in recent years.
The event would take in some of the more famed stages of recent years as used in the Circuit of Ireland and the WRC Rally Ireland round with the jumpy bumpy nature of the fast winding roads around the southern part of the North posing a big challenge for man and machine.
One crew who would take up the challenge this year were the Volvo engined Mk2 of Alan Atcheson with Thomas Wedlock on the notes for the 12 stage spectacular which would take in 2 night stages as well. The weather for the weekend was mixed at best with sun shine one minute over one stage and rain hammering off the road only a few miles away on the other stage.
With the competition in the 2 litre 8 valve class stern enough in this region it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park for the Pedro sponsored car. A good run on the opening stage meant the pair would take the lead in the class and settle into an impressive 13th overall, lucky for some!
By first service the pair were lying 15th overall amongst some impressive company and were leading the class well as they fitted the spot lamps, ate their carrots and fired the escort into the darkness for one more blast around the Mallabelly Hill and Knockmany stages under the cover of darkness. A good run here would see them continue to hold class honours and still mix it with the bigger machinery in the top 20. Not a bad nights work before a few hours sleep ahead of the pre dawn start. The sleep must have still been in Alan’s eyes as a couple of overshoots halted their rythem on Sloughen Glen the first stage on Saturday morning, granted the conditions were trecherous for all competing crews and they were by no means alone in their overshoot woes.
The pace continued to raise for the rest of the Saturday and a big push on Sloughen Glen 2 and Topped Mountain 2 cemented their place in the top 15 with 11th overall and the winners of the 2 litre 8 valve class. The Hoozier tyres played their part for the weekend keeping the guys on the road and the guys at MS Motorsport kept the Volvo engine purring and working well. Bit of a break for the guys now and then it is off the Clare in September.