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After a successful return to the TigerRisk Skoda Fabia R5 at Rally van Wervik (14-15 June), Marty McCormack will return to Belgium for the fourth round of the British Rally Championship (BRC), the Renties Ypres Rally (28-29 June).

The Draperstown driver headed to Belgium to get “match fit” ahead of a return to the BRC and despite not being behind the wheel of the potent Skoda since March, secured an impressive sixth overall against many rapid Belgian aces. McCormack will now aim for another solid points haul to boost his BRC title chase.

With co-driver Barney Mitchell alongside, McCormack enjoyed a strong start to his BRC campaign this season, taking third place at the season-opening Cambrian Rally in February. Fourth at the West Cork Rally was equally impressive, but work commitments prevented him from starting the third round, the Pirelli Rally.

However, McCormack cites the Ypres Rally as one of his favourites in the calendar and its ultra-fast roads and large ditches pitch the event as one of the most challenging in Europe. Traditionally attracting World Rally Championship stars to the rally, the event sees one of the largest contingents of modern specification R5’s and McCormack is well aware that a top result will be a tall order.

“It’s an amazing rally and very rewarding when you get a strong result over there,” he says.

“That’s mainly because of the competition you’re up against but also the roads can be really tricky so its easy to get caught out. You have to be right at the top of your game and also it probably helps to be realistic with your chances too. Setting the bar too high has its consequences.”

Aware that time away from the TigerRisk Skoda would hamper progress in Ypres, he headed to Belgium at the start of the month to acclimatise to the style of roads, taking sixth in the process. This time, he will have his British Rally Championship position to think about but is heading across the English Channel with the intention of enjoying himself.

“I think we only have a very slim chance of staying in the BRC title fight now so the pressure is off a little. We made a very conscious decision at the start of the year to just enjoy our rallying and if we get a good result off the back of it then that’s a bonus. Of course, we want to do well, but smiles per mile are important too”.

The Ypres Rally offers over 275km of competitive driving spread across 23 stages with the qualifying stage taking place on Thursday evening.

The opening day’s action kicks off at 4 pm, meaning there will be a handful of stages under the cover of darkness, adding an additional challenge to the unique Belgian roads. Saturday house most of the action, with 185km of flat out driving before the traditional ceremonial finish in Ypres town centre later that night.

Marty is sponsored by Tiger Risk Partners, P McCormack and Sons Ltd, Ears.ie, Millers Oils, IMF Fabrications, Pirelli and MTec Graphics.

Image credits: Jakob Ebrey Photography

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