Marty Toner has switched from his Ford Escort Mk2 to a BMW 1M ahead of rallying’s return to Northern Ireland this weekend. The modified regular from Armagh is seeded 21st for the Bishopscourt Stages Rally.
“The BMW almost happened overnight,” explained Toner. “I saw it advertised and said why not.
“I thought I’d give it a go to see what it’s like. It’s something different from an Escort and hopefully with a bit of development it can be as good.”
The Class 7/14 car, which was previously rallied by Richard Whelan, has already been in action at Rallysport events in Ballykelly and Galway. Bishopscourt will be another single-venue event for Toner to get to grips with his new car.
“I have done a lot of modifications to her before every event and it seems to be heading in the right direction.
“It’s just like everything new – it takes a little time to settle in.
“The power and brakes are completely different to what I’ve experienced before.”
Toner is hoping to compete on every round of the Northern Ireland Rally Championship this year which features closed-road rallies later in the year.
The BMW convert is also on the reserve list for the Argyll Rally on Scotland’s west coast. The asphalt rally is due to run on the final weekend of June and has attracted entries from throughout the United Kingdom including other modified drivers like David Bogie, Shane Cullen, and Damian Toner.
But for now, Toner’s eyes will be on matching the pace of Bishopscourt’s modified flyers led by his brother Damian.
“There is a brilliant entry of modified cars for Bishopscourt,” said Toner. “If I can get close to the race at all I’ll be happy.
“Hopefully everyone has a great first event back and it will be good to see a few familiar faces again.”
Photos courtesy of Philip Stewart