Scotland's Dave Weston Jnr will make his Ulster International Rally debut this weekend, under the watchful eye of established local co-driver Gordon Noble.
In his first year in the British Rally Championship, the 18-year-old from Aberdeen already lies fourth overall in the points table after taking a well-deserved fifth place finish in the BRC points on the notoriously difficult Rally Isle of Man last month.
“Everyone talks about the unique style of the asphalt roads in Ireland,” said Junior. “Even when the WRC drivers came over to prepare for Rally Ireland they mentioned how different the roads are over there, so I know I have a challenge ahead. My only experience in the country to date is outings on Ravens Rock and the Stonethrowers Rally earlier this year. We finished fifth overall on the Stonethrowers ahead of plenty of Irish rally regulars and I learned a lot there, but it's hard to say if that will benefit me on the roads we will be using this weekend.”
An added benefit to Junior's attack in his Subaru Impreza in Ulster will be his co-driver Noble. The highly respected competitor has previously guided the likes of Alister McRae and Kris Meeke over stages, and is Clerk of the Course on Rally Ireland.
“I know of Gordon of course, but I will only meet him for the first time today (Wednesday) which is the day before the recce,” said Junior. “Switching to a new co-driver is not something which worries me though. While it's nice to have a full time co-driver, bringing a new one in can teach you a lot and give you new ideas about both making and reading pacenotes. This year is very much a learning year for me, so guidance from someone as experienced as Gordon will really help.”
Although Junior says his strong finish on the Isle of Man has given him a confidence boost going into the Ulster International, he says trying to catch Alastair Fisher to move himself up into third place in the BRC points will not be his aim.
“In what is genuinely a learning year for me I would be stupid to go chasing after Alastair and end up having an off,” he said. “I am happy with where I am in the championship. Hopefully I can keep hold of fourth, and improve on that when I am more experienced next year.”
Weston and Noble are seeded at number 32 on the entry list. Although they were originally listed as an entry for Revolution Wheels, this is no longer the case as Noble is not registered for BRC points.