Irish Rallying World Rally Championship

Demanding WRC debut for Irish co-driver Fulton

Cavan co-driver, James Fulton, made his World Rally Championship debut alongside Barry McKenna on last weekend’s Rally Mexico. The Irish pairing battled through several punctures and fuel pump failure on the rally’s first full day. A second-fastest time in WRC 3 on Saturday’s opening stage highlighted their potential pace only for their rally to come to an early end a few stages later.

“It was a challenge as expected,” said Fulton. “From my European Rally Championship events, I knew what to expect. 

“We had a tight schedule for the recce having to write notes for all the stages as it was new to us. But it was a really good experience.

“Road sections into the street stages were very busy but I was warned about that so thankfully it all went smoothly.”

Fulton’s experience in Mexico represents another step in his co-driving career. Fulton has been a regular on Irish rallies since 2012, most recently navigating for Sam and Josh Moffett.

“When I was young my Dad took me to all the local rallies like Cavan and Monaghan Stages. Living out in the country I always had an interest in anything that moved and had an engine. Then growing up with Paddy and Gary Kiernan I got into rallying with them.

“My first rally was with Gary in 2012. It was small budget rallying back then as we were in college and had to juggle it with the nights out!

“It just went from there. You soon get addicted to it and I have been quite lucky in that the drivers I sat with have all been very quick.”

Rally Mexico was Fulton’s third round alongside McKenna as they tackle this year’s ARA National Rally Championship in America. The pair won the season-opening Sno*Drift Rally in January before Fulton travelled back home to partner Sam Moffett to a runner-up finish on the Irish Tarmac Championship’s first round, the Galway Rally.

“The American rounds are great, a totally different experience than rallying here at home. The stages are really good, probably better than Ireland to be honest which is saying something.

“Because America is so big and the events are spread all over it, each rally has a different characteristic. The organisation is quite different and takes a bit of getting used to but it’s really enjoyable.

“The Sno*Drift was unique because we weren’t allowed studded tyres even though it was on snow.

“The fans out there love it which means the atmosphere is really good.”

The remainder of Fulton’s season has been hit by the global coronavirus outbreak. The second round of the ARA Championship, 100 Acre Wood, which was due to take place this weekend has been cancelled while Fulton’s next ITRC round, the Circuit of Ireland Rally has been postponed.

Despite all the uncertainty, Fulton remains focused on developing as a co-driver by welcoming every challenge that comes his way.

“Rallying for me is like anything you are interested in – I want to do well in it. I learn something new from every rally I do, they all present different and new scenarios.

“I always have goals and aims but at the end of the day as long as I am enjoying it, I will keep trying to progress.”

Photo by Timo Anis

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