Rallies feel pinch as entries decline due to increased costs
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.”