With closest adversary Sam Moffett skipping the event as he prepares for his debut in the World Rally Championship next week, in Rally Germany, first or second place will be enough for Boyle to land the title.
“We are in a good place at the minute but it’s not over, especially with Garry Jennings and Eugene Donnelly competing, I’m sure it will not be that simple,” declared Boyle.
Both are certainly capable of denying Boyle. But with wins in Galway and the Donegal Internationals along with maximum points in the Circuit of Ireland, it’s been a good season for Boyle.
“We have worked hard on the championship this year so we really need to concentrate on it this weekend, it would be great [to win it] but the Cork ‘20’ is still there, like last weekend anything can happen,” he said.
Leading last week’s Tipperary Stonethrowers Rally in his bid to win a second Dunlop National Rally Championship title, Boyle was forced out on the second stage, illustrating the fickle nature of the sport.
“Tipperary was very disappointing, the input shaft went in the gearbox, these are meant to do between 1,500-2,000 kilometres, ours had done over 900 kilometres, so we know it has to be changed every 600 to 700 kilometres to keep it safe,” said Boyle.
The first car away from the St Angelo Airport complex is at 12.40pm today with seven stages down for decision and a further eight stages tomorrow. Top seed and last year’s winner Garry Jennings (Subaru WRC) may feel he has a point to prove after his poor form in Donegal. The presence of Boyle and five-times tarmac champion Eugene Donnelly in the hired McKinstry S14 Subaru WRC will provide plenty of motivation for Jennings on what is his local event.
Having blown the engine of his Ford Focus in Tipperary last weekend, Donagh Kelly is a non-starter. Meanwhile, Josh Moffett (Mitsubishi) is the top Group N entry, he can also move into second in the ITC series as he is only 7.5 points behind his non-competing brother, Sam.
The rally also incorporates a round of the British Rally Championship, with Daniel McKenna set to extend his lead over his title rival, Welshman Osian Pryce, both in Citroen DS3 R3Ts.
The R2 category of the rally should be interesting. Galway’s Dean Raftery (Ford Fiesta R2), local driver Jon Armstrong in a similar car and Monaghan’s Stephen Wright (Peugeot 208 R2) are the main contenders.
Raftery is dovetailing his ITC and BRC campaigns: “We have proved this year that we can get some impressive results in the Fiesta so it will be interesting to see how our times compare with the other R2 contenders.”
Meanwhile, the event will provide Wright in the Killyhevlin Hotel-liveried car with a break from his Belgian and European activities. “It will be brilliant to compete again on a local rally and the Ulster Rally is a fantastic event, with some really challenging stages. We left Luxembourg very confident in the car and our pace notes, so I hope we can pick up where we left off and produce a good result for our local sponsors.”
Elsewhere, Cork driver Denis Moynihan (Ford Escort) can extend his lead in the Historic section of the ITC, in the Ulster. His rivals include the Escorts of Rob Smith, Raymond Johnston, Ian Millar and Seamus O’Connell and the legendary Jimmy McRae (Vauxhall Firenza).
On the motor-racing scene, British Touring Car Championship regular Dubliner Aron Smith has signed a new contract with Warren Scott’s Team BMR. The deal, which runs until the end of 2015, will see Smith remain at the wheel of his Restart Racing Volkswagen Passat CC. He joined the team earlier this season and netted the outfit their maiden victory in Oulton Park, and added a second win just recently at Snetterton. “This has all come about very early but it puts us in a great position for next season, everything we achieve before the end of this year is an added bonus,” said Smith.