Five-time British champion Jimmy McRae has taken his second victory in the Tuthill Porsche Challenge to lead the series, thanks to another win on the Ulster Historic Rally in Northern Ireland yesterday (Saturday).
The Scottish legend, who has won in Northern Ireland on two previous occasions, encountered no problems from start to finish, to claim an impressive class win by nearly two minutes. Adding to a successful weekend for the Tuthill Porsche team – the UK’s premier preparation firm for historic 911s – was a class triumph for Dessie Nutt, who dominated his opposition in the two-litre category after a masterful display.
McRae, co-driven by Pauline Gullick, moved into the lead on stage nine of 13, building on his advantage after making a cautious start to the event in tricky mixed conditions on Friday night. As usual, the roads around Antrim were narrow, slippery and bumpy – requiring instinctive reactions from the drivers and a perfect set-up on the car. McRae used harder tyres in the warmer conditions of Saturday to set a series of impressive stage times.
“I’ve not driven in Northern Ireland for a while and it’s quite a specialised place,” said McRae. “That’s why I took it easy at the beginning, to get used to it all again. Then when it was drier it was easier to push a little harder. I really enjoyed myself on the event: there was a great atmosphere and as always the Porsche was a pleasure to drive. It’s nice to be leading the Challenge too, as it’s a great concept, which is very friendly.”
The Tuthill Porsche Challenge – the only one-make rally series for Porsches in the world – supports five rounds of the Dunlop/WONAGO.com MSA British Historic Rally Championship, with Ulster being the only sealed-surface event of the year.McRae was driving for the JLT Rally Team, deputising for regular driver John Lloyd.
Unfortunately, Tuthill Porsche competitors Edmund Peel and Andrew Barnes – the winner of the last round on the Severn Valley Rally – were forced to retire on stages eight and nine respectively. Peel was stopped by a gearbox problem after climbing as high as fourth in class, while Barnes went off but emerged unscathed.
Richard Tuthill, the founder of the Tuthill Porsche Challenge, commented: “It’s great to see an asphalt element on our calendar, with such a legendary event like the Ulster Rally bringing a real sense of occasion on some classic roads. It’s a rally where Jimmy McRae has shown his class on plenty of occasions in the past, and it was great to see him do that once more with us. Not only did he enjoy himself but the spectators did as well; these Porsches are absolutely great to watch and listen to, particularly on stages of this quality.”
The next round of the Tuthill Porsche Challenge will take place on the all-gravel Trackrod Rally in Yorkshire on September 24, where the spectacular 3.0-litre Tuthill 911s will be in action once more.