Ral­lies feel pinch as en­tries de­cline due to in­creased costs

Irish Examiner - Sport - - GENERAL - Martin Walsh

The ma­jor­ity of Irish rally or­gan­is­ers con­tinue to strug­gle as a re­sult of the de­cline in en­tries due to in­creased costs and other is­sues. While the Done­gal In­ter­na­tional Rally bucked the trend a few weeks ago and ac­tu­ally had a reserve en­try, other clubs are find­ing it dif­fi­cult to sur­pass the 100 mark. Last week’s Raven’s Rock Rally at­tracted just over 80 crews in­clud­ing Ju­niors.

Sun­day’s Trim-based ALMC Rally has seeded 57 crews in to­tal and will most likely run at a loss. It’s a chall- en­g­ing time for all Mo­tor­sport Ire­land af­fil­i­ated clubs, two of which may have to pick up the tabs for prop­erty dam­age caused dur­ing their events that in each case has cost a five-fig­ure sum.

Pre­vi­ously, clubs paid a levy of €1,275 that was then used in such cir­cum­stances, with the re­main­der paid by the gov­ern­ing body, Mo­tor­sport Ire­land. How­ever, that par­tic­u­lar levy has been dis­pensed with and un­less the Mo­tor­sport Com­mis­sion de­cides oth­er­wise, the costs will be­come the li­a­bil­ity of the or­gan­is­ing club.

On the roads, Welsh driver Steve Wood (Subaru WRC) heads the ALMC event that is a round of the Bri­tish His­toric Cham­pi­onship with around ten crews jour­ney­ing across the Irish sea to con­test the nine-stage en­counter.

Weather con­di­tions will de­ter­mine the type of chal­lenge he will get from Maynooth’s Ian Bar­rett (Dar­rian T90 GTR). Dry roads are pre­ferred for the light­weight pocket rocket car.

An­other Maynooth driver Kevin Bar­rett will cam­paign his Tri­ton backed S14 Subaru WRC and will be fol­lowed by Louth’s Eu­gene Mee­gan (BMW 1M). The mod­i­fied en­try also fea­tures Cork’s Colin Byrne (Ford Es­cort) and Derry’s Niall Henry in his Class 20 Mit­subishi EVOIX.

Bri­tish driver Steve Simp­son will give an out­ing to his Ford Fi­esta R5 and reign­ing Tri­ton Ju­nior cham­pion Gary Mcnamee should fig­ure promi­nently in his Honda Civic. On stage times, he led the re­cent Heart­land’s Rally in Port­laoise but with­drew fol­low­ing the im­po­si­tion of a hefty time penalty. The top ten is com­pleted by Peter Wil­son (Ford Es­cort) and Philip Hop­kins (Mit­subishi Mi­rage).

Else­where, there are places for Gary Cairns (Mit­subishi), Sean Lis­ton (BMW E30) and the Skoda Fabia S2500 duo of Ross Mar­shall and Paul Mccann. Based at the Cas­tle Arch Ho­tel, the first car away is at 9.30am with the fin­ish at 5.45pm.

Mean­while and in the ab­sence of lead driver Kris Meeke, there will be ex­tra fo­cus on the Citroen WRT on this week­end’s Rally Poland, round eight of the World Cham­pi­onship. Just af­ter the last round in Sar­dinia, the French out­fit headed to Poland for a four-day test. Sub­se­quently, Citroen sub­mit­ted two up­grades to the FIA – the ho­molo­ga­tion of a new rear dif­fer­en­tial rail and a me­chan­i­cal ‘joker’ in order to mod­ify the torque split be­tween the axles. How­ever, due to a de­lay in sourc­ing the new com­po­nents, An­dreas Mikkelsen, who was drafted into the team on the last round, will be the only one to have the new­ly­ho­molo­gated “joker”.

For Water­ford’s Craig Breen it’s an op­por­tu­nity to im­prove on his fifth place fin­ishes in Monte-carlo, Swe­den, Cor­sica and Por­tu­gal.

“Af­ter the rough, wind­ing roads of Sar­dinia, pre-event test­ing gave me the chance to read­just to the fast, flow­ing roads in Poland.”

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