Mark Higgins and Rory Kennedy held their nerve to take victory on the Toddsleap.com Ulster International Rally round of the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship with a winning margin of over a minute from rival Guy Wilks.
The pair came home third overall behind Eamonn Boland and Kevin Lynch on the event at the wheel of their Subaru Impreza to secure maximum points towards the BRC title race and have now closed to within two points of David Higgins, who was fifth amongst the BRC bridgade and tenth overall.
Higgins came home with an advantage of a minute over Guy Wilks, with the Mitsubishi man suffering from a rear differential problem and then suffering an off which tore a wheel from his Evo 9 and dropped him vital time in the fight for victory.
“We had a decent lead after Guy's off but we've still been pushing fairly hard to keep the concentration up,” Higgins said. “It is a fantastic result for the Atlas TEG Sport team and the second BRC win in a row in Ulster, I'm delighted.”
Higgins' win was also a boost for the Atlas TEG Sport crew after Wyn Humphreys was unable to take the start when his Impreza was stolen from outside a hotel on Friday morning.
Despite his issues, Wilks was able to hold on to second place ahead of new team-mate Gwyndaf Evans, who celebrated his return to the series after a ten month lay-off by completing the podium, just over a minute behind Wilks at the finish.
The man Evans replaced, Phillip Morrow, took fourth place on his first outing for the Atlas TEG Sport team with Darren Gass having held the position before retiring after a roll and steering failure.
Behind David Higgins in fifth, Brian O'Mahony took sixth and with it the R3 class honours at the wheel of his Clio Super 1600, despite struggling all weekend with an engine that was down on power and with a gearbox issue that developed on the final loop of stages.
Rally 2 was blitzed by the Jim Clark Rally and International Pirelli Star Driver nominee again, Adam Gould's less powerful Clio taking eighth, a minor indiscretion with a bank the only evidence of any excursions.
The Citroën C2R2 Cup was also dominated, this time by Martin McCormack, who also took honours in the Irish Cup. It was his first finish in the BRC without using the Super Rally regulations, about which he was delighted.
The Suzuki Swift Sport Cup also threw up a dominant performance from Ross Forde, beating round one winner Gordon Nichol by a whisker over four minutes. The result leaves the Championship wide open as the crews all head off to the next round, Rally Yorkshire at he end of September.
The final class winner was Fin McCaul in the Diesel Cup, his BMW proving a match for the Astra of Steve Graham.