BY MARTIN WALSH
IRISH motorsport is set to step into different gears for a resumption of the sport with rallying, in line with the government restrictions, not getting the green light until August 10th next at the earliest.
A statement issued by Motorsport Ireland today said: 'Following the most recent announcements from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and in keeping with all government guidelines, the Motor Sport Council decided at a meeting last night to extend the suspension of all Motorsport Ireland permitted events until the 20th July 2020 in alignment with the Government Roadmap for Reopening, Phase 4. Rally events will not be considered until after the 10th August 2020 as they fall under Phase 5 of the guidelines. These dates may have to be revised if there are changes to government policy. The Motor Sport Council does not see our sport returning completely at that time, but in a phased manner, which will be done in agreement with our individual clubs.
'The calendar for the remainder of 2020 will stay intact, however any club that feels they should not run an event in their locality will be free to withdraw that event from the calendar. Once we have a clear picture of what the remainder of the year looks like we will be in a position to possibly fill any gaps with events that were cancelled but are still in a position to run later in the year.
'The running of a motorsport event involves the support of several stakeholders and we will need their support for our sport to return. Some of them may not be in a position to give so freely of their time and some may have suffered financial hardship so all of these topics will be discussed when we can assemble the event organisers as a group. We are a voluntary organisation and will continue to be that so no one will be forced to participate at any stage, it is a case of “Health First”.
'With the introduction of our new online licensing system later in the Summer we will now offer National 12-month Licences, meaning they will expire 12 months after issue unlike the current expiration date of 30th June or 31st December.
'Government guidelines will at all times dictate what and when it happens, but the Taoiseach has laid out a road to return and when it is appropriate, motorsport will do so. We will continue to give ourselves options as we are only entering the fifth month of the year and to do anything else would be previous. It is our hope that we will see the return of some events in 2020 but it cannot be guaranteed at this time. We will continue to review the situation based on governmental data and look to be prepared when the time is right.
'We are in constant communication with Sport Ireland and the Minister for Sport and Tourism. We are conscious of the large economic impact that Motorsport has on our communities nationally and will play our role at the appropriate time in contributing to Ireland’s recovery.
'As always, our thoughts are with the families of the people that this horrible virus has affected.'
The Southern Star understands that all the clubs that are scheduled to run events after July 20th will be contacted by Motorsport Ireland to seek confirmation of their intentions.
In the current calendar of events, the Cork '20' International Rally, the Westlodge Hotel Fastnet Rally, The Kerry Winter Rally and the Historic Rally of the Lakes are all listed on dates between September and December.