A host of Rally stars joined organisers and special guests at the historic Guildhall Square, Derry, for the launch of the 2016 John Mulholland Motors Ulster Rally. This year’s event promises both competitors and race fans an action packed weekend of motorsport on Friday 19 and Saturday 20 August 2016 centred at Ebrington Square in the city with stages throughout the county.
In celebrating its 40th year, the event has a new home in this historic city along with new sponsors John Mulholland Motors and Derry City and Strabane District Council. With a host of new stages, the race line up will welcome the newly formed FIA European Rally Trophy (Celtic Trophy), the return of the British Rally Championship as well as the highly popular Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac and the McGrady Insurance MSA Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championships.
Ulster Rally Clerk of Course, Gary Milligan is excited about this year’s new home at Ebrington;
“It is an honour to be at such a prestigious venue as the Guild Hall to launch the 2016 John Mulholland Motors Ulster Rally. Cathal Curley was the winner of the very first Ulster Rally way back in 1976 in a Porsche 911 so it’s fitting that we are in Derry/Londonderry, 40 years later, to launch the 2016 event. We have the ideal event base at Ebrington Square and as rally fans know from previous Ulster Rallies, the area is well stocked with classic and challenging stages”.
“But it’s not just the venue and stages that make these events, the stars of the event are the drivers, co-drivers and their cars and this year’s Ulster Rally promises a fantastic array of machinery crossing the start ramp in the Guildhall Square at lunchtime on Friday 19th August.
We especially welcome the re-vamped British Rally Championship back onto the Ulster Rally stages and we are looking forward to the battle for supremacy between the R5 cars in the British series and the Irish Tarmac Championship regulars and we are hopeful that our local home-grown talent will again be fighting for pole position in their respective categories in all the major championships included in this year’s event.
Gary continues; “It’s always a challenge moving to a new venue, but with the support of our new sponsors Derry City and Strabane District Council and John Mulholland Motors, along with the Tourism NI, our local stage sponsors and our many hundreds of volunteers, we believe we have all the right ingredients to make the 40th Ulster Rally the best one yet.”
Headline Sponsor, John Mulholland Motors is based in Randalstown and Campsie and John himself was one of the first to put in his entry for this year’s event.
“Rallying is a passion of mine so I’m thrilled to have the association with the Ulster Rally for the next three years, bringing the sport closer to the public and the fans that support it. I myself have a Skoda S2000 so I’m looking forward to the challenge of these new stages.”
Welcoming the event to its new home, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Hilary McClintock, said; “We are very proud to be hosting the event, especially marking its 40th year celebrations, and we look forward to showcasing our wonderful district and the surrounding areas to a new audience.
“The Ulster Rally is one of the most significant events in the sporting calendar in terms of attracting a dedicated audience of sports enthusiasts, and there is no doubt that the event will be a major attraction which will have a major impact on our local economy. It’s a fantastic opportunity to attract new visitors to the beautiful North West and we look forward to welcoming you all in August.”
Entries for the event are now open and the organisers, Northern Ireland Motor Club Ltd anticipate a top line up of local and International competitors and a host of Irish and Northern Ireland Rally Championship front runners. Also included in this year’s Ulster Rally programme is the popular Historic section and the recently introduced Junior category which will be incorporated into the Saturday afternoon stages.