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Marty McCormack was on course for a season-best second place in the British Rally Championship last weekend at the Today’s Ulster Rally (17th August), before suffering a gut-wrenching off on the final stage of the event, forcing the TigerRisk Skoda Fabia R5 into retirement.

The Draperstown ace had shown an impressive pace during the gruelling nine-stage event which consisted of 93 miles of narrow and bumpy lanes surrounding the Newry rally base. A consistent day behind the wheel of the Skoda had seen McCormack vault from tenth overall and fourth BRC crew on the opening stage to fourth overall and second BRC challenger on the penultimate test.

But on a stage which caught out several other front runners, McCormack and co-driver Barney Mitchell suffered a heavy impact on the left-hand side of the car, forcing them out on the spot.

Despite not tackling every round of the British Rally Championship this season, McCormack was looking forward to contesting his “home” event and professed to be quietly confident of a good result on the Northern Irish lanes. The TigerRisk backed pilot has competed at the front of each event he has tackled but just one podium, on the Cambrian Rally, has been the reward.

Three loops of three stages were on offer over the course of the day and damp conditions greeted the crews during the opening loop, with many front runners getting caught out on the slippery opener. McCormack stopped the clock just inside the top ten and with the Irish Tarmac Championship contenders also present on the event, there would be plenty of hard work to do to haul himself up the leader board.

McCormack wasted no time in doing so, vaulting to sixth overall and third BRC by the second test. A blistering time over the third saw him take his first stage win, beating World Rally Championship ace Craig Breen in the process to cement his sixth spot overall.

By the fifth test he had made it to fifth overall and the penultimate stage saw him leap into second place of the British Championship crews and just over eight miles away from the best result of the season. But almost in sight of the finish, the Skoda was pitched into a ditch at high speed and out of the rally.

McCormack was understandably disappointed with the way his Ulster Rally had ended.

“It’s such a shame to end our Ulster rally hopes like this but the most important thing is that Barney [Mitchell] and I are both OK,” he says.

“We had such a great feeling today and after a bit of a slow start, we really got into the groove and started to punch in some great times. It’s easy to say we should have backed off on the last one but at this level, you really cannot afford to do that. I’m sorry to the team and our backers but we will be back soon and see if we can get a decent result to round off the season”.

McCormack is planning an outing on the forthcoming Woodpecker Stages and closed road event, Rali Bae Ceredigion in Wales during September in his Historic specification Ford Escort Mk2 before heading for the Roger Albert Clark Rally in November.

Marty is sponsored by Tiger Risk Partners, P McCormack and Sons Ltd, Ears.ie, Millers Oils, IMF Fabrications, Pirelli and MTec Graphics.0

Image credits: Jakob Ebrey Photography

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