The Glens of Antrim Rally organised by Mid Antrim MC last month should have been an excellent addition to the MSA Northern Ireland Championship. Instead it turned out to be a huge disappointment for the leading drivers.
Held over two runs of three classic tarmac stages Pollan, Glendun and Torr Head the organisers failed to include extra chicanes on the first two tests which led to the faster top 3 cars beating the minimum “bogey” time on both runs. This meant that the torturous Torr Head stage decided the outcome of the rally with Jonny Greer in his Citroen DS3 R5 beating Derek McGarrity’s Fiesta WRC by 10 seconds first time round and then 11 seconds on the final run. Just shows how the supposedly less powerful current R5 cars have the potential to defeat World Rally Cars in certain circumstances.
Alan Carmichael was third in a WRC Mini, he also beat the bogey on the same four tests. The rest of the 92 car entry had no problems with the times.
We were timkeeping at the finish of the Pollan stage and with the cars running at one minute intervals there were no difficulties. 77 cars finished the rally back in Ballycastle. The weather was cold but dry on this early May Saturday.
Let’s hope Jonny Greer decides to continue with this Championship as he represents the best challenge to current champion Derek McGarrity. Round one winner Greer has 24 points while Derek has 32. Round four is next, the Tyrone Stages in July, which will also be held over closed road stages. Following that we are into the forests of Fermanagh, Tyrone and Down to complete the seven round series.
Ok maybe not a rally but of special interest this year as the TSCC(NI) event marks the launch of eRally in Northern Ireland. Thanks to Tony Gregory for this information. eRally’s fully electric rally car is based on the Renault Zoe and is the first fully-electric rally car to be inspected for a competition log book. During the day, the team will be doing demo runs up the technical hill climb course, with ex-Juniors rally drivers at the wheel. The Zoe will form the blue-print for future eRally cars, which will give futher help and support to the many Junior Rally Championships throughout the UK. These championships for 14-17 year olds are vital in nurturing future rally talent in the UK. The eRally Zoe is aimed at brining new drivers and sponsors to these various series and help future-proof the sport. The Cultra Hill Climb is a round of the Northern Ireland Hill Climb Championship and takes place in the grounds of the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. It starts from 10am. Expect BMMC marshals to be out in force.
Organised by Donegal MC and sponsored once again by Joule this is the most popular round of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship. All the top drivers in Ireland and beyond will descend on Letterkenny for what promises to be a great summer weekend in the county. We will be providing timekeepers and marshals for the three-day event. Entries include last year’s winner Manus Kelly and former winners Garry Jennings and Declan Boyle in their World Rally Cars. Main interest though will centre around the Championship which only allows R5 cars to compete for points at the top level. Sam and Josh Moffett plus Alastair Fisher will be among the leading lights here. The modified class (for 2-wheel drive Escorts and Corollas) is always well supported in Donegal. A capacity entry of 150 cars can be expected.
Organised by North Armagh Motor Club and sponsored by Rainbow Communications, this annual event is a natural replacement this year for the cancelled Lurgan Park Rally. We will be providing radio operators and marshal cover for the event. For the first time the club is accepting entries from 4-wheel drive competitors (including WRC’s) as well as the usual 2-wheel drive machinery. The six stages are all-tarmac and the first car starts at 09.30. We will probably be required to Sign-on from 7am. (check with the club for these details nearer the time).
Please note the calendar on this site has now been updated to show the information for 2017 if you wish to review 2016 you can do this by going to the Archive selection on the Calendar Menu or Clicking Here.
Circuit of Ireland Rally Event Director, Bobby Willis, has announced that the Rally will not be taking place in 2017. The decision has been made as a result of funding uncertainty.
Bobby Willis explains, “I have had the privilege of managing the Circuit of Ireland Rally since 2009. In that time the event has grown significantly and now hosts the prestigious European, British, Irish and Northern Ireland Championships. Last year we had in excess of 40 million television viewers worldwide, with similar numbers expected this year. Another hundred thousand viewers, in 130 countries followed the event via live streaming in what we believe to be a first for this scale of rally. Year on year the event has brought increasing social and economic dividends for Northern Ireland and, in particular, the tourism and hospitality sector. But the growing success and size of the event necessitates precise long term project planning, additional resources and inevitably more financial investment.”
“To date we have had fantastic support from Councils across Northern Ireland, Tourism NI and Tourism Ireland, private sponsorship and the NI Executive. I believe we have delivered an excellent return on investment for all our partners, with the substantial growth achieved in the last seven years. We have been working hard with all our funders to plan ahead for 2017 but regrettably at this point in time the financial resources required to deliver the event are still not in place. To run the Rally next year, in the current format, without the right resources and necessary planning period would be to do the Rally a gross disservice. I believe we cannot risk proceeding with the 2017 event at this point without financial certainty.”
“The decision not to run the Rally next year has been the most difficult one I have ever had to make and will be extremely disappointing for a wide range of people including the hundreds of volunteers who have contributed so much. The Circuit of Ireland Rally has reached a level of success unimaginable only a few years ago, attracting an enviable international entry list and with opportunities for even more growth within our grasp. For those reasons it is vital that the ‘Circuit of Ireland’ brand is protected for future generations. Whilst other options for a small, local rally may be considered for next year, my plan is to take the time to work closely with our partners to secure the necessary resources and plan for the Circuit of Ireland Rally to return in 2018 with an even better event.
Circuit of Ireland Rally
On Saturday morning at Autosport International we will be launching a new online training and accreditation scheme for Rally marshals, as part of the RallyFuture project to further enhance safety on UK stage rallies.
Hopefully you will already have been aware of the project through MSA publications or Regional Association meetings. However we felt it was important to write to you in advance of the launch, to ensure you are aware before we make the wider public announcement.
This new scheme has been several months in the making. Its purpose is to ensure that all Rally marshals have a common understanding of their roles and responsibilities, the management of spectators and how to handle an incident.
The training should take no longer than 45 minutes, including the assessments. It is important to note that the online training is a supplement to, and not a replacement for, the high quality face-to-face training sessions that are currently being delivered across the UK.
This year, the online training and accreditation is only compulsory for newly registering marshals. However please note that those marshals who are currently registered with the MSA will need to complete the online training before being issued with their 2017 Registration card. You will only need to complete this course once in your marshalling career.
There will be a buddy system for unregistered marshals, to help ensure we don’t lose opportunities to recruit new volunteers – further details will be released in due course.
More details will be revealed following the launch on Saturday. In the meantime, may we thank you for everything you do for our sport, which would not exist without you. Best wishes for the coming season.