Next Saturday’s Glens of Antrim rally is the seventh and final round of the 2012 Valvoline Motorsport Ireland Forest Rally Championship. This popular championship has provided huge excitement and very competitive racing in all the classes throughout the season. Any one of three drivers can claim the Valvoline crown and many of the classes are still to be resolved, according to championship pro Austin Shinnors.
Monaghan’s Stephen Wright is the championship leader with 101 points, his Evo 6 scoring well on every rally. His season started on a great note, finishing second in opening round in Donegal and he followed with very consistent scores: a third, a fifth, two sixths and an eighth place.
Just three points behind is Colin Britton with 98 points. The Strabane driver in his Evo9 is having a great season to-date with a first on round six in Omagh, a second, two thirds and one fourth place. Britton had one retirement, when the transmission let go on round five in Mitchelstown.
Vincent Mc Aree is next up just four points adrift of Britton. The Monaghan man had a bad start to the year with a mechanical retirement in the Evo9 in Donegal but he recovered well and he has been well on the pace with two seconds, one third, one fourth and a sixth place.
Garry Jennings in a Subaru Group A. is in fourth place. He is six points behind Mc Aree and a total of thirteen from Wright. The Kesh man won in Donegal and Mitchelstown and he collected maximum points on the second round in Carrick where he trailed home the non-registered Craig Breen. Sensationally he finished second in Moonraker (round 3) after a roll but did not start Cork due to issues at scrutiny. A bigger disappointment awaited Jennings in Omagh when his engine expired at the start of the last stage. He was in third place at the time and he would has claimed the crown if he completed the rally in that position.
Fifth place is claimed by Ger Lucey who is the leading non-Ulster driver on the leaderboard. Lucey has 76 points accumulated in his Evo8 thanks to one sixth and three sevenths and a eighth. The Corkman retired on Carrick.
The above scores are the maximum points scored by each driver. However when dropped scores and bonus points are taken into account, the leaderboard takes a different shape. The main contenders are Jennings, Britton and Mc Aree. Jennings remains favourite to claim the 2012 Valvoline Forest Crown, and it is for him to lose. Colin Britton would need to win on Saturday and have Jennings score less then 14 points (which is 7th championship finisher) to win. For McAree to win he would need to win the rally and have Jennings non-finish and Britton to finish four championship places behind him.
The Glens of Antrim Rally is based in the Coleraine/Limavady area using Cam and Springwell forests. The format is 2 stages run three times with approximate mileage of 67km (42 miles). Scrutiny takes place on the morning of the event with the start and service all held within the same central location.
Tension, drama and nail biting will dominate the Saturday’s racing. At the end of the day the Valvoline Forest Crown will be lifted by an Ulsterman. The question is will he be from Fermanagh, Tyrone or Monaghan?