Pirelli travels to Northern Ireland for BRC’s penultimate event
The penultimate round of the MSA British Rally Championship will move to Northern Ireland this week for the second all-asphalt round of the series, the Todds Leap Rally Northern Ireland on 17-18 August. Pirelli will bring a mixture of 15” to 17” RX7, RX5 and RE7 asphalt tyres; the RX7 is a medium compound tyre for dry conditions, while the RE7 is for dry and damp conditions and can be used as a full wet. The N3 will also be available in one 15” size for wet conditions. The tyre supplier also boasts the involvement of its 2012 Pirelli Star Driver, Jukka Korhonen, who will travel from his native Finland where he was competing on Rally Finland, round eight of the World Rally Championship. Korhonen made his competitive debut on asphalt in May when he finished second in class on the Jim Clark International Rally at the wheel of a TEG prepared Skoda Fabia R2.
“Since the Jim Clark, we have competed in three rallies: two Finnish rally championship events and also Rally Finland,” explained Korhonen. “We won our class on the Lapua SM rally but on the second event in Kouvola we crashed after a jump. After that, we had a full time job to try to get Fiesta R2 fixed before Rally Finland. On that event, we used full WRC Academy set-ups and Pirelli’s K4 tyre. We had a spin on Friday and got stuck in a ditch over four minutes. After that, it was all about learning the stages.”
Korhonen added: “For the next two British Rally Championship events we will fcus on a clean run and hopefully claim our first British victory. I am not familiar with Todds Leap Rally but we will try to continue from where we left off on the Jim Clark. I’ve heard it’s a good rally and I’m looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of a Skoda.”
Based in Antrim, Todds Leap Rally Northern Ireland returns to the region for the fourth time and features 122 competitive miles over 14 stages in the Antrim and mid-Ulster regions. It will kick off at 12.45 on Friday 17 August with a ceremonial start at Junction One Outlet Shopping Centre, and finishes at 17.40 on Saturday 18 August.
In addition to Rally Northern Ireland, the two-wheel-drive only round of the British Rally Championship, other events under the Ulster Rally title include rounds of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship, British and Irish Historic Rally Championships. With Citroen continuing to lead the manufacturer standings with 149 points, both Renault and Ford will be looking for a healthy points haul in order to overhaul the French marque.
Former Pirelli Star Driver Elfyn Evans will also be eager to put in a strong performance and follow in the footsteps of his father who has previously the Ulster crown. Evans jointly leads the championship alongside fellow Welshman Tom Cave, as well as leading the Pirelli-supported WRC Academy following a dominant victory on the recent Rally Finland.
Pirelli UK Motorsport’s operation manager, Matthew Corby, said: “The Todds Leap Rally is one of the fastest rallies on the British Rally Championship calendar and is sure to test our Pirelli rubber to the limit. With all the dry weather recently and dry forecast for this week, it is expected that the crews will use a mixture of RX5 and RX7, but crews will also have the option to use the RE7 compound should there be a risk of damp conditions.
“The battle at the top of the leaderboard is shaping up to provide a very exciting finale to this year’s British Rally Championship with only two points currently separating the top three drivers. I’m also looking forward to seeing how Jukka will fare on his Northern Ireland debut. I was impressed with his performance on the Jim Clark International Rally, he finished second in class despite being having very limited experience driving on asphalt. I am positive that his progress combined with raw talent behind the wheel will allow Jukka to fight for a podium finish before the year is out.”