Draperstown rally driver Marty McCormack is hoping his return to the British Rally Championship this weekend will be a rewarding one, as the TigerRisk Skoda Fabia R5 ace contests his “home” event, the Today’s Ulster Rally (August 17).
McCormack has shown an impressive turn of pace during his staggered 2019 campaign in the Skoda, swapping times with some of the best drivers in Europe.
However, he has not managed to convert his pace into the results to match, bagging just one podium in the BRC this season.
But the popular driver is aiming for a change in fortune as the series makes the trip to Newry for the penultimate round of the series on the closed-public roads of Northern Ireland.
Along with co-driver Barney Mitchell, McCormack has enjoyed a busy season behind the wheel, mixing outings in his Historic specification Ford Escort Mk2 with a BRC assault.
Whilst his rear-wheel-drive outings have seen category wins, the top step of the podium has eluded him in the R5 with a run of bad luck and unforced errors keeping it at arm’s length.
Third place, and his only podium of the season at the opening round - the Cambrian Rally was followed by fourth at the West Cork Rally.
Due to work commitments, he was forced to sit out the Pirelli Rally but was determined to bag a good result at the following Ypres Rally in June.
As the series made its annual guest visit to Belgium, McCormack tackled Rally van Wervik ahead of the event to settle back into the groove after almost three months away from the car, taking sixth overall in the process.
That form continued at the Ypres Rally, going fourth fastest overall across the opening stage of the rally on Friday afternoon and leading the BRC contingent.
A handful of overshoots during the weekend hampered progress up the leader board and the hard work would be undone when broken suspension forced McCormack out of the event on the second day after tussling for the top BRC spot.
Whilst any hopes of taking the BRC title have evaporated, McCormack is looking forward to contesting stages just a few miles from home.
“Competing against some of the best drivers in the business in Europe and being able to hold your own is pretty special,” says McCormack.
“But there is something really nice about being able to come home and compete just down the road.
“The Ulster Rally is iconic and is steeped in history with some very famous names on the trophy.
“I’ve managed a podium once, and although I’d really like to be out front after 100 miles of driving on Saturday night, there will be dozens of others thinking just the same.
“But look, I`m really looking forward to this one, it’s been too long since I’ve sat in the Skoda competitively.”
McCormack is hoping his approach to his driving, which he believes has been more relaxed in 2019 will help.
He added: “I do have a very different attitude towards my driving this year and its really helping me to enjoy my rallying again.
“I work hard and like many others use the sport as a release but at the pace, we are all competing nowadays you still need to be one hundred per cent committed every step of the way.
“I’ll certainly be looking to enjoy the weekend, but I`d be lying if I said I wasn’t going there to win, and so would anyone else in the top ten be if they said that too.
“I’m feeling confident, but hopefully I can turn that into a result”.
The Today’s Ulster Rally is the penultimate round of the British Rally Championship and takes in over 100 miles of competitive action surrounding the rally base of Newry.
Marty is sponsored by Tiger Risk Partners, P McCormack and Sons Ltd, Ears.ie, Millers Oils, IMF Fabrications, Pirelli and MTec Graphics.