Matt Edwards and Darren Garrod continue their excellent run of form as the Welsh pairing won the John Mulholland Motors Ulster Rally at the weekend.
The M-Sport crew mastered the mixed conditions to win three events from three this season to firmly cement their place at the top of the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship standings going into the second half of the season.
The BRC reached its halfway point on the Ulster Rally, and in its 60th anniversary season, Britain’s premier rallying series didn’t fail to deliver in excitement. The Northern Ireland classic played host to, two hard-long days with 100 miles on demanding bumpy tarmac through the Irish lanes.
Changeable weather conditions with torrential rain making an appearance on the opening day, followed by glimpses of summer sunshine on the second made for battles aplenty on varied road surfaces – a treat for the hardy spectators watching stage-side.
Matt Edwards and Darren Garrod once again produced a BRC masterclass. The Welsh team had won the opening two rounds of the action-packed series and came to the Ulster with hopes of keeping out of trouble with the aim of a podium to maintain their BRC title tilt. The classic event was the scene of Edwards’ BRC R5 debut two years ago with the north Wales driver growing in confidence with every rally since.
Edwards threaded himself in gently, with the fourth fastest time on the first competitive test before working his way up the order on the opening five stages.
Picking up the pace with every stage and staying out of trouble, the Welsh Wizard ended the opening day on top, with slender 0.6 second lead over Rhys Yates and James Morgan going into the final day.
Yates’ Skoda Fabia R5 proved well-suited to the longer, faster and more flowing stages while Edwards in the agile Fiesta R5 enjoyed the tighter natured tests.
He snatched the lead back on the opening test before Edwards reveled in the tight afternoon stages to haul himself clear of the chasing pack to take his third straight victory.
David Bogie and John Rowan produced a carbon copy of their Ypres Rally result last time out. The Scottish star struggled with making the correct tyre choices but when he was on the right set of rubber, the Skoda Fabia R5 driver got the hammer down and was pleased to secure another podium to swell his championship points account.
Matt said at the finish, “The event unfolded for us and we didn’t go into it or any individual stage with any goals. We drove to a level which was comfortable and pushed when we could but it was important to drive to the conditions.
“Darren did another faultless job, he kept reading the notes and I kept driving and we didn’t put any more pressure than we needed on ourselves, despite the championship goal in the back of our minds.
“The Isle of Man is next and it’s an event we really enjoy and it gives us an air of comfort where as the Ulster was going to be a real challenge. We had never done these stages before and this event hasn’t treated me well in the past either. To go to the Isle of Man, where we’ve gone well before, and get another win in the bag would be brilliant and we cannot wait to try and continue this run.”
The series will blast back into action in a month’s time with Rally Isle of Man on 13-15 September.