Jason Black and Karl Egan secured an impressive two-wheel-drive win on Saturday’s Ulster Rally. The Toyota Starlet crew finished 33.1 seconds ahead of modified rivals Marty Toner and Kyle Diffin.
Black, who has been a British Rally Championship regular this year, starred on his home round to go fastest in two-wheel-drive on seven of Ulster Rally’s nine stages.
It was a tough start to the rally, however, as a gear linkage issue had Black and Egan’s Starlet stuck in gear for two-thirds of the nine-mile test.
They bounced back straight away, and by the fourth stage were leading Class 6 and two-wheel-drive. Differential trouble haunted Black from the second stage but thankfully a fix was found on the rally’s final service to ensure they made it home with some silverware.
“It was all good today,” said Black. “We’re glad to be home in one piece because it was an extremely slippery rally, the conditions and grip levels were very changeable all day.
“I’m delighted with our pace. The stages were really tough but it was a great event and I really enjoyed all the stages despite how slippery they got.”
Damian Toner led the modifieds after Ulster’s opening McGaffins Corner stage but his rally came to an early end when he slid off the road on Bronte Homeland. John Devlin took up the lead but only held a 1.4-second advantage over the hard-charging Ford Escort of Alexander Cochrane after the opening loop of Ulster Rally stages.
Devlin and Cochrane lost out from a heavy rainshower on Stage 4, Black took full advantage of his higher road position to beat his rivals by over 30 seconds on the single stage.
Marty Toner took up the role of challenging Black’s two-wheel-drive dominance but it wasn’t until darkness hit the County Down stages that Toner could break Black’s streak of fastest times.
Toner had tasted night-time rallying on the Isle of Man earlier this year and was looking forward to Ulster’s final two stages.
Black and Toner’s pacey performance was enough to finish 11th and 12th overall on the Ulster Rally. It was a result that put them both ahead of four R5s.
Donall Sweeney finished third in two-wheel-drive, 25 seconds ahead of Devlin who claimed second in Class 6.
Oliver Benton completed the Class 6 podium.
Photos by Roger Dawson and Adam Hall