MI acts to avoid karting split

MOTORSPORT IRELAND has agreed a two-year plan to keep karting in its jurisdiction and will invest €25,000 each year.

It follows a claim from a breakaway group, Kart Ireland, that the governing body had reneged on a deal that appeared to have healed the rift between the two groups.

“I am at a loss to explain of how it got from committee meetings to a new organisation, four resignations, it just doesn’t appear to have been thought through to the full extent,” said Alex Sinclair, the chief executive of Motorsport Ireland (MI).

Sinclair also poured cold water on a new bid to bring peace and harmony to karting by stating MI cannot negotiate any further whilst admitting karting is overly complicated and hugely expensive. However, the Irish Examiner understands fresh attempts will be made to bring both parties back to the table to resume dialogue. Sinclair also added MI will be running a national championship in 2012 and they may withdraw licences or refuse to issue licences to competitors competing in non-sanctioned events.

Item 16 in MI’s two-year plan states: “Anyone who wishes to compete in CIK-FIA approved events outside the jurisdiction of Motorsport Ireland must hold a valid FIA Competition Licence issued either by Motorsport Ireland or another ASN affiliated to the FIA in accordance with Chapter VIII of the FIA International Sporting Code.”

Meanwhile, Kart Ireland is also going ahead with a full season of races in 2012 and has promised television coverage as part of its plan to raise the sport’s profile.

Karting has been in decline for several years with the number of licence holders plummeting over the past decade. Since 2002, this spectrum of the sport has experienced a 50% decline in licence holders. Indeed, motor racing has also suffered as rallying has outshone both as the most popular spectrum of motorsport, both in terms of licence holders and spectators. It is difficult to understand why the decline has never really been addressed.

Karters themselves would appear to be the real the losers in the current situation, where some MI officials acknowledge Kart Ireland has some very good ideas.

But Sinclair reckons MI can offer more protection in terms of safety and insurance. “We will encourage people to be part of what we do,” he said.

MI may discipline their licence holders who participate in Kart Ireland events. Kart Ireland claim such action is against a competitor’s civil liberties. Ironically, MI is aware that some of their own licence holders have competed in non-sanctioned rallysprint events. Sinclair added that no action was or has been taken against such competitors. It will be interesting to see if MI will apply the rule to the karting fraternity.

A meeting last month between MI personnel and Kart Ireland organisers looked to have resolved the issues. Indeed, both groups ‘shook hands’ on the deal.

However, Sinclair claimed the agreement was subject to approval by the clubs, who didn’t agree.

He said: “We thought we could sell the idea, but it was down to a commercial involvement of one member. That was the main issue, there were others but I don’t want to go into them, but the commercial interest was top of the list.”

It is hoped that young karters are not impacted negatively by the Motorsport Ireland and Kart Ireland problems. The investment has to be welcomed, but it must be for the right reason.

Hopefully, the dispute will not have repercussions for the sport in general, particularly for the Way Forward group, which is addressing the issues that led to a stand-off that threatened the future of rallying.

The FIA have delayed the registration date for the 2012 FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers until December 19 next. Convers Sports Initiatives (CSI), the parent company of WRC promoter, North One Sport, are in administration.

Meanwhile, the date for Spain’s round of the World Rally Championship has been changed from November 1-4 to November 8-12.

The Carbery Night Navigation Trial takes place tomorrow night. Based at the Imperial Hotel, the first car away is at 11pm. The route is 80 miles long and is expected to finish around 3am on Sunday morning.

The event is a round of both the Munster Navigation Trial Championship and the TMC Windows Skibbereen and District Championship.

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