BRIAN PATTERSON T
“Elfyn could emulate his father”
wenty years ago Gwyndaf Evans came to the Ulster Rally in a Ford Escort RS2000 and did more than enough to clinch his first and only British Rally Championship.
The event was won by Bertie Fisher in a Subaru, with Robbie Head in a development Renault Maxi Megane second. Neither driver was eligible to score BRC points, so third placed Gwyndaf got the maximum.
Like father like son, on the forthcoming Ulster Rally, it is within the bounds of possibility that Gwyndaf’s son Elfyn, certainly the fastest man in the series this year, could take another step towards securing this year’s BRC title.
We were reminded of this father/son connection when we called at the Randalstown car sales complex of John Mulholland, new sponsor of the Ulster Rally. Nestled in the corner of the showroom was what looked like a Hyundai WRC machine.
John explained that it is actually a car built by Steve Black’s SBG organisation for Hyundai to be used for a Top Gear magazine article. The car looks stunning, has all the bells and whistles, the sequential box, the aero kit, the hubs, the brakes, the cage, the interior. John said that he jumped at the chance to buy the car, it gives him a ‘Royal Flush’ with his ford Escort Mk2 and Skoda Fabia S2000, representing the three marques that he sells – Skoda, Ford and Hyundai.
He is hoping that his 18-year-old son Jonathan will be allowed to drive it as a course car on the Ulster. He already has a lot of racing experience competing in Ginettas and Formula Ford, but has yet to catch his dad’s rallying bug. John explained that he had more or less grown up with the Ulster Rally in his blood. That he had finished 13th overall back in 1994 in a Harry Hockley Vauxhall Nova and has hardly missed a rally since.
In those days the event was based in Belfast, had a relatively benign Friday evening series of stages and then a 0400hrs start to Saturday with difficult stages down the Clogher Valley and then over to the really tough roads in the Sperrin Mountains.
Indeed, tucked away in the Sperrins are two stages, Barnes Gap and Rousky that are easily accessible from the rally’s new base in Derry/ Londonderry and which could prove a turning point in this year’s Ulster Rally also.
Mulholland has great praise for the Ulster organisers, rating them top of the tree. He will be competing again this year in his Skoda Fabia S2000 after already using the car in Killarney and Donegal.
No doubt he will be keeping a keen eye out also for his son Jonathan – just as Gwyndaf will be for Elfyn!