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CRISIS, WHAT CRISIS?

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.

NOW FOR THE GOOD NEWS!

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!

Rally Diary

SAT. 22ND APRIL
LARK IN THE PARK

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.

MON. 1ST MAY
MAY DAY RALLY

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.

SAT. 6TH MAY
RIVER RIDGE RECYCLING GLENS OF ANTRIM RALLY

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!