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Draperstown ace Marty McCormack will be on the hunt for his third outright victory at the iconic Roger Albert Clark Rally this week (21-25 November) as he tackles the gruelling five-day event behind the wheel of his Tiger Risk Partners-backed Ford Escort Mk2.

McCormack and co-driver Barney Mitchell will be aiming to make history on the biannual event, as the Northern Irishman bids to be the only driver to win the event for the third time and add to his 2012 and 2017 victories.

The 13th running of the fondly named RAC Rally has attracted a bumper entry of 160 cars and is the toughest yet, with 32 stages and over 300 stage miles on offer, spread across most of mainland UK. Stages in Wales, England and Scotland make up the route, with little rest bite and some of the toughest tests in the country meaning it is regarded as one of the hardest events in the world.

McCormack has enjoyed a buoyant year behind the wheel of both modern and historic machinery with a category win at Rali Bae Ceredigion in his rapid Ford Escort MK2. He also gave the Volkswagen Polo R5 its maiden Irish win on at September’s Cork 20 International in the Dom Buckley RSC housed machine.

After contesting much of the opening rounds of the British Rally Championship, McCormack’s attention quickly turned to the Roger Albert Clark Rally and would ensure his historic seat time was kept at the top of his list with outings in Wales on both Tarmac and gravel. The “one of a kind” RAC Rally is an event like no other and takes months of preparation to be in with a chance of taking victory.

Winning the event last time around in 2017, McCormack is hoping a repeat of that victory is in store this week.

“Winning any rally is absolutely fantastic and gives you a real buzz but winning the RAC [Rally] is something else,” says McCormack.

“You go through so many sentiments during the week and no matter how fit you are, the days are that long and the stages that tough, that it really does get quite emotional come the end of the rally. I’ve had a short pre-event test which went really well, and now I’m fully focused on being at the front from the word ‘go’ on Thursday, but it won’t be easy”.

A top-quality entry list will head to Leominster on the Welsh border for the rally start on Thursday with any one of the top 30 crews in with a chance of inscribing their names on the winner’s trophy.

McCormack thinks this will be one of the hardest challenges he has faced in his career.

“I know what to expect which is a bonus I guess, but this rally will throw so many surprises at you” he continues. “That can come from the stages to the competition, so you have to try and keep sharp all week long. I`ve had to battle really hard for the RAC Rally wins in the past with drivers such as Malcolm Wilson, so I’m as prepared as I`ll ever be to try and take a third victory. It would be fantastic to be the first to do that”.

The Roger Albert Clark Rally starts with two stages in Radnor Forest on Thursday night, before heading back into Wales on Friday for a tricky leg in stages made famous by the WRC qualifier, Wales Rally GB.

Then, a transport section sees crews tramp to Carlisle for a day in Kielder forest in the Borders on Saturday, before moving into Scotland on Sunday. Monday rounds off the event with another tough day in Kielder before the rally finishes back at Carlisle that evening.

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

Image credits: Paul Lawrence

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