BY MARTIN WALSH
THE Quality Hotel West Cork Rally is to be a counting round in the 2019 British Rally Championship.
Having made its debut as a full counting round of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship in 2015, it had been speculated in The Southern Star recently that the Clonakilty-based event was set for another boost in status.
Confirmation of this was made on Wednesday by the Cork Motor Club and the British Rally Championship manager Iain Campbell.
It follows a visit from a BRC official to Clonakilty to watch this year’s event and a subsequent invitation to the Cork Motor Club to join the series.
It means that, next year, the West Cork and the Ulster Rally will be the only events that will have dual status.
The decision to include the West Cork is a major fillip for Clonakilty and should also yield additional economic benefits.
It will be the first time since the BRC began in 1958 that a Motorsport Ireland-run event will be a counting round.
Billy Coleman was the first Irish driver to win the British series (1974) and has been followed by Keith Cronin (2009, 2010, 2012 and 2017) and Daniel McKenna (2014).
Just like the ITRC, the BRC can only be won by R5 or such type cars, although currently, World Rally Cars can win individual ITRC events but not the championship. That topic is due to be discussed at a meeting on Sunday.