MCCORMACK GETS R5 FOR BRC MCERLEAN TAKES WIN AND JUNIOR F1000 TITLE AT ANGLESEY
Northern Irishman for two-car Tiger Risk Rally Team effort Insurance for all your rallying needs
Northern Irishman Marty Mccormack will step up to a Skoda Fabia R5 for a British Rally Championship assault next season.
Mccormack has purchased an ex-neil Simpson R5 and will tackle two gravel rallies – including February’s Cambrian Rally – as a warm-up for the Mid Wales Stages opener a month later.
The 31-year-old enjoyed mixed results in a sporadic Skoda Fabia S2000-based BRC campaign this season, but pre-season practice on the loose will help him step up for 2017.
“It’s brilliant news for next year,” said Mccormack. “I did the deal with Tiger Risk, my sponsor, just when I was leaving to compete on the Rally Australia Classic – so that was a pretty good week! I’m looking forward to testing the Fabia R5 as soon as possible and doing those extra couple of events before Mid Wales will help me on the gravel, that’s where I’ve felt I needed a bit of work. Even doing the rally in Australia in the Escort [Mk2] helped me, I learned more about making notes and things like that.”
Mccormack added that he had no doubts about returning to BRC next season.
“The BRC’S great,” he said, “it’s a good calendar and it suits me with work. I’ll run the car myself again next year. To be honest, I’m looking forward to getting my head down and giving this one a good whack. It’s a great opportunity with a fantastic sponsor and brilliant car.”
Mccormack has competed in an R5 car before, driving an A-style Ford Fiesta R5 on four WRC2 in 2014.
“That wouldn’t have been the best experience,” he said. “But what convinced me of the need to move to R5 for next year was standing watching the Fabia R5s in Sweet Lamb on Rally GB. I’d heard the chassis was a bit better, but there was so much more from the engine – I was shocked watching them going up the hill there. That’s why I can’t wait to get started next season.”
Mccormack forms one half of the Tiger Risk Rally Team, with James Slaughter confirmed to return to his Ford Fiesta R5 ran by MSL Motorsport.
Slaughter partnered Mccormack on set rounds this year, with a best finish of 11th in the BRC on the Circuit of Ireland. It was Slaughter’s first season in a four-wheel-drive car having driven Escort Mk2s in the British Historic Rally Championship, which Mccormack has won.
“The plan is to do the Mid Wales, then Pirelli, and then it will be a question of what we do after that,” said Slaughter. “I’d love to go to Ypres but I think going there for the first time in the R5 would be difficult. But it is my local event.
“I’d like to go back to the Nicky Gist as I thought that was a good event. If things are going well we’d like to do GB to conclude the year. Driving these cars as quickly as the likes of Marty is difficult, so we want to keep improving and building the speed.”
Additional reporting by Jack Benyon
Inexorably, entry levels on Irish rallies have been slipping downwards through the latter part of the 2016 season – almost certainly, although not solely, because of the steep insurance levy put on competitors during the past year.
This came about because the sport suffered several bad accidents in previous years. Insurance companies are certainly not charities, hence the hefty surcharge starting at 160 euros per competitor for a one day rally.
The good news is that over the past 12 months, yes, there was action aplenty, with no shortage of ‘spills’, but there were no serious accidents.
The hope is that the levy will eventually, although probably not in 2017, start to reduce. There is still a large claim liability in the pipeline and insurance companies tend to work on quite long cycles. But perhaps the tide may have turned.
It is no coincidence that there has been a turnaround. Richard Talbot, who has managed the successful MI National Championship for the past 10 years, is now to become chairman of the Motorsport Ireland Rallies Committee. Richard takes over from Ger Healy and it will fall on Richard’s shoulders now to guide the sport through the next four years.
Speaking from his Tralee base, Richard told us: “I was safety officer at the Galway International Rally at the start of this year. In conjunction with the Rallies Committee we made a constructive effort to get the competitors on board regarding safety.
“We also put even more priority on safety plans and preplanning than before. Aidan Harper, the safety delegate, worked extremely hard at every aspect. There is no magic wand, but progress is encouraging.
“We also now have the new National Rally champion, Roy White, coming on to the Rallies Committee. He, as an active competitor, has great insight. There is no guarantee that the insurance will be reduced, but we are going in the right direction.”
There is more than one reason of course for diminishing entries. It is agreed that there are too many rallies in Ireland, particularly in the latter half of the season. However every club feels entitled to run their rally, or rallies. There is just one full closed road stage event left in Ireland this year, the Killarney Historic. Ironically it has attracted close to 150 entries, mainly because it has a special place in many driver’s diaries.
Interestingly the rally didn’t run last year as ‘Storm Desmond’ rolled into south west of Ireland from the Atlantic. Such was the devastation that a state of emergency had to be declared, so the rally was the last thing on people’s minds. Hopefully that will not happen this time, and hopefully as well the rally will run without major incident.
The officials can’t do anything about the weather, but with the help of the drivers and co-drivers they can do something on the safety front.