Star staff ‘keep ‘er lit’ at Nutts Corner circuit

The Ulster Star’s sports team pushed the pedal to the metal last Tuesday when we had an - albeit brief - change of career, becoming co-drivers in a rally car.

Taking the track at thrilling speeds, we were able to briefly experience the adrenaline rush that rally driver’s feel on a daily basis.

The Star's Stacey Heaney took a spin with ERC Junior rally driver Jon Armstrong at the Nutt's Corner circuit last week.

The Star's Stacey Heaney took a spin with ERC Junior rally driver Jon Armstrong at the Nutt's Corner circuit last week.

When the Circuit of Ireland held a special pre-event test day at Nutts Corner Circuit on Tuesday, we were more than happy to go along and sample a little of what the drivers will experience when the Circuit of Ireland ‘Power Stage’ will take place in Lisburn on April 4.

Over 30 broadcast media, journalists, competition winners, sponsors and guests attended the event, and we jumped at the chance to don our race suits and helmets for the one-off experience.

Paired with ERC Junior driver Jon Armstrong, the 20-year-old Kesh man looked after us well and ensured we enjoyed our brief stint as rally co-drivers.

I have to say that the experience was quite something, flying around corners at top speed, and when you hit a straight the speed you could get up to was incredible.

However, I’m not sure a change of career is on the cards, I think ten minutes at such speeds may have been my limit.

I will, however, happily watch the experts at work when the prestigious ‘Power Stage’ of the Circuit of Ireland Rally arrives in Lisburn on Easter Saturday.

Speaking to Jon following our race around the Nutts Corner track, he spoke of taking part in the Circuit of Ireland and visiting Lisburn next month.

“I’m looking forward to it, it’s a nice wee stage,” Jon commented.

“It’s tricky but it’s good for the spectators and it’s nice to bring the rallying to the crowd, especially in a super special stage like that.”

Speaking of difference in driving around the city roads than on a traditional track, Jon said: “It is a lot different, it’s actually a lot more tricky because there’s a lot more stuff to catch you out but it’s enjoyable for the spectators and that’s what the spectator stages are for.”

Other than the Circuit of Ireland, it’s a busy time for Jon elsewhere.

He added: “I’m doing the European Junior Championship so I’ll be doing the rest of the rounds of that

Circuit of Ireland event director Bobby Willis, added: “We had a fantastic turnout for the test day at Nutts Corner Circuit – it was great to see so many guests, media and friends of the Circuit and I’d like to thank all the drivers who took part.

“I’m really looking forward to a brilliant event on 2-4 April with up to 140 cars competing in a range of challenging stages in counties Antrim and Down.”