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The A to Z of Irish motorsport in 2022

January 20th, 2022 2:17 PM

By Southern Star Team

Ballyvourney’s James Lucey and his Cill na Martra co-driver JJ Cremin pictured on the recent Mitchelstown Motors Boggeragh Rallysprint. They led until the final stage when their Mitsubsihi lost power for a time. They eventually finished third. (Photo: Martin Walsh)

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BY MARTIN WALSH

THIS week we feature an alphabetical analysis of this year’s motorsport that, hopefully, will include all the events that are scheduled on the Motorsport Ireland calendar. There are also likely to be plenty of happenings outside of the various spectrums of the sport.

A: Is for Acesigns, the new title sponsor of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship. Previously, the Togher-based company sponsored the Cork ‘20’ International Rally and in recent years was an associate sponsor of the ITRC. Acesigns is a leading sign manufacturer and fitter and its managing director Neil Phelan is a regular competitor in Irish rallying where he drives a Mk. 2 Ford Escort.

B: Is for brainstorming and the hope that members of motor clubs and those within the governing body get together and have an incisive look at where the sport is going within the next decade. Several disciplines are just meandering along and are in need of a fresh approach.

C: Is for Cronins – the Ballylickey family are set for another busy year in motorsport. Keith has yet to reveal his plans but they are most likely to include another crack at the British Rally Championship, Daniel is in the process of acquiring a new car for 2022 while Colin and Robert will continue at karting where they are expected to make further progress.

D: Is for development within the structure of Motorsport Ireland. It should be about what you know and not who you know. The lack of officials under the age of 40 is concerning for the future of the sport, so too is the progression from competing to officiating.

 

E: Is for elections insofar as positions in governance be filled by an election process that is fair and all inclusive. A Motorsport Council where less than a quarter of the group are elected (others are selected) would be a good place to begin the process.

F: For fulfilment and the wish that all competitors, organisers and spectators get enjoyment from the all spectrums of the sport and while it is still serious in terms of competition, that the feel-good factor returns.

G: For Galway and its International Rally on the first weekend of February, that it marks a significant start to Acesigns Irish Tarmac Rally Championship with a competitive entry to remind us what this great event was like many decades ago when people thronged to the West of Ireland for three days. G is also for Griffin (Matt), who continues to fly the Cork flag in motor-racing around the world, he is a hugely popular driver within the Ferrari family.

H: For Harper (Aiden) elected last week as the new president of Motorsport Ireland. It’s suggested in some circles that his appointment will herald a new dawn for the sport. The Longford-born official is well-known within rallying, the most popular spectrum of the sport but one that also brings the biggest conflict. No doubt, he’s looking forward to the task but change will not be immediate, it may take time.

I: Is for insurance and that premiums will drop for all concerned, as insurance costs are central to determining entry fees. In recent years there has been a reluctance from the governing body to have open and frank discussions about the premium. Transparency would help to heal the wounds and confine the conspiracy theories to the bin.

J: For Junior rallying and while the promotion of J1000 rallying is now beginning to gain momentum, the Junior scene, the brainchild of a member of the Killarney & District Club, needs a revamp. Is there a club within those affiliated to Motorsport Ireland that would promote an event solely comprised of junior drivers?

K: Is for Kerry, a county that will host four rallies this year, the same as County Cork, the only counties to hold four events. It (K) is also for Killarney and District Motor Club, who will run three of the four rallies in Kerry – the Rally of the Lakes, the Historic Rally and a Forest Rally.

L: For locals and that they will continue to compete in motorsport. In recent times, the decline in the number of local rally drivers is a concern.  However, the presence of rising stars such as Fin Wilson and Jeff Quilter in motorcycling and the continuation of bikers like Derek Wilson, Stephen Tobin and Donal O’Donovan is important.

M: For motorsport and what it means to everyone and that it should be all encompassing and easily understood by everyone and not just those that are familiar with rules and governance. The presence of so many classes within rallying is often confusing.

N: For navigation events that are now only organised by four or five clubs.  Are such events sustainable in the long term future of the sport? Is there a link between the navigator in these events and its co-driver equivalent in stage rallying? Has anybody asked?

O: Is for optimism for the future of the sport and that it will take cognisance of all aspects of the environment. Change doesn’t need to be radical but it needs forward thinking people.

P: Is for promotion of the sport and the hope that competitors will continue to engage with this publication now in its 38th season. While it’s not always possible to speak with every competitor, a text or call is always welcome and appreciated, especially by the most important element, our readers.

Q: For quantity in terms of the number of entries clubs receive for their events. No doubt we all like to see top quality but when the numbers are slack, the future of the event is tenuous. Like every sport, numbers are important, they are much more than also rans.

R: For the return of the Fastnet Rally on an annual basis and not just every two years. When it returns in 2023, it will mark a four-year absence. The event is the pinnacle of what goes on within the Skibbereen and District Car Club and it’s vital for the future of the club that it becomes an annual event once more since its inception in 1982. R is also for respect that should be unilateral.

S: Is for sponsors and sponsorship that is so important within motorsport.  Last week’s announcement that Acesigns are to sponsor the Irish Tarmac Championship series is welcome news but that series was without an overall sponsor since Clonakilty Blackpudding ended their title sponsorship a number of years ago. Currently, the National Rally Championship is without a title sponsor for 2022.

T: Is for stage times and results of events. It is paramount that organisers provide accurate and up-to-date results. It is not acceptable to wait several hours for results, nor is it acceptable that stage times are changed after several hours. Technology has advanced considerably and there is simply no excuse.

U: Is for unnecessary and that there will be no such demands made on organising clubs whose members give freely of their time.

V: Is for volunteer and volunteerism – the essential ingredient for organising clubs and its members.

W: Is for W Series, the all-female British single-seater racing championship where Dripsey’s Kayleigh (Kayls) Cole is hoping to make further progress in 2022. W is also for WRC and the confirmation that Rally Northern Ireland will be added to the 2022 series.

X: Is for the hope that the West Cork region will have many competitors in 2022 that will have the X-factor.

Y: Is for year and that 2022 will be much better for Irish motorsport and one that will see events return with strong entries, motorsport supporters were very much forgotten since Covid restrictions began in March 2020.

Z: For Zoom, a facility that has proven popular in the Covid era and one that means delegates are spared the journeys to Dublin to meet with Motorsport Ireland Council or its relevant commissions. Zoom also saves energy, not to mention time or money.

 

 

 

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