We may have just lost a government (what a bunch of w------) and three important rallies in Northern Ireland, but hey, life goes on, and so does motorsport.
RallyBuzz was the first to predict it could happen last month, and now the Lurgan Park Rally has indeed been cancelled for 2017. North Armagh MC are by no means a rich club and a combination of factors including costs, the new stringent MSA safety regulations, an unsuitable May date and no overall event sponsor have forced them to call a halt, for this year anyway.
Having marshalled every year since 1981 this unique and spectator friendly rally was one of my favourite events. The “rally in the park” started out as the Burmah Rally way back in 1980 and was won by the late great Bertie Fisher in a Ford Escort. Despite problems such as Foot and Mouth disease which forced many events to cancel in 2001 the Lurgan Park Rally continued to run annually until 2016. Mind you the rally had become a benefit for Garry Jennings over the last few years and just maybe a little bit boring! Let’s hope North Armagh MC get their problems sorted out and bring back this superb event in a more exciting and fresher format!
Also cancelled are the Circuit of Ireland Challenge and the Mourne Rally. The Circuit Challenge was to be a special event based in Ballymena this month for just 30 invited drivers in R5 cars. Featuring two special stages in Co.Antrim the event would have been streamed live to a huge audience worldwide. The reason for the cancellation has been partly blamed on the current political situation in Northern Ireland. With no government in power a budget cannot be found to support this event. I just hope we will see the proper Circuit of Ireland return next year possibly back in the European Championship.
By the way. Very well done to Josh Moffett on his incredible third place in the Azores Rally. This was the Monaghan man’s first visit to this the first round of the 2017 European Championship Rally.
The Mourne Rally was to be held in June and based in the Newry area. A round of the Northern Ireland Championship, this tarmac rally is normally run over the forest drives of Camlough and Slieve Gullion. Organising club were Newry and District Motor Club. Perhaps the rally will be back next year.
Mid Antrim Motor Club are all set to run the next round of the Northern Ireland Championship on Saturday 6th May. The Glens of Antrim Rally will be based in Ballycastle with three repeated tarmac road closed stages namely Pollan, Glendun and the mighty Torr Head . The event is backed by River Ridge Recycling.
Then to replace the cancelled Mourne Rally, Cookstown Motor Club will step in to run round four of the NI Championship on Sat. 29th July. The Tyrone Stages will also be a tarmac road closed rally. Based at Loughrey College the event features 3x3 stages between Cookstown and Stewartstown.
The Ulster Rally in August will not feature in the Northern Ireland Championship this year but with its Londonderry base is a counting round of both the British Rally and Irish Tarmac Championships.
So there would seem to be hope of the future in Northern Ireland. As for Southern Ireland their rallies continue as normal. The National Tarmac and Gravel Championships are pretty well supported and as for the Irish Tarmac Championship Donegal in June should be a highlight as usual. We intend to be there again this year..... Crisis, what crisis? Things can change as rapidly as Kris Meeke driving out of a Tesco car park!
Seriously though well done Kris and Paul (Jesus Christ Kris) Nagle in Mexico. Now for Corsica and beyond! Never a dull moment with Mr.Meeke. Reminds me of a certain Colin McRae. Interest in the WRC has suddenly taken off since that remarkable final stage in Mexico!
Organised by Maiden City MC we have been asked to provide rescue and stage marshals. Contact Chief Marshal Michael Irving for sign-on details. The event, starting at 09.30, consists of three tarmac closed-road stages in Co.Donegal and three in St.Columb’s Park Londonderry, a total of 28 stage miles. Rally HQ will be City of Derry Rugby Club.
Based entirely at St. Angelo Airport Enniskillen this clubman event is a popular annual event which attracts a large entry. We would normally assist with marshals, rescue and radio personnel. Sign-on is usually very early so contact the Enniskillen MC website for information.
Round three of the MSA NI Rally Championship this Mid Antrim MC event is based in Ballycastle and features three repeated stages including Glendun and Torr Head. Starting at 10am BMMC/BRMC will be assisting in various marshalling rolls which should include Rescue and Timekeeping. Let’s hope Derek McGarrity gets some competitive opposition in his quest for the 2017 NI Title!
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.