Karting dispute takes a turn for the worst

THE continuing dispute between Motorsport Ireland and the breakaway group – Kart Ireland — took another twist this week after the governing body opted out of a planned meeting of both parties with the track owners due to take place yesterday.

Over a week ago, both organisations were intent on running a full calendar of events, despite the general consensus that the sport could not sustain the two elements.

Apparently, following the intervention of the track owners, a meeting was organised. The latest crux could lead to track owners hosting just one group. This could be decided on the basis of proposals from both MI and Kart Ireland. Speaking yesterday, Motorsport Ireland CEO, Alex Sinclair said that MI were focusing on putting their energy into their 16-point plan for karting. On the prospect that the track owners will opt to run with Kart Ireland he remarked: “We will address that issue when it arises.”

Meanwhile, Motorsport Ireland have introduced a raft of changes for next season’s Dunlop Sexton Trophy Young Racing Driver of the Year award. Sinclair says the changes were drawn up following consultation with his office, the Motorsport Commission, Dunlop and the Irish Sports Council.

“The plan is to provide an award that is both realistic and practical; one that will be the catalyst for the reintroduction of Formula Ford as a class in Motorsport Ireland events; provide a focus for the sport at home and provide a class of car that will give a level of affordable opportunity to compete outside of the island of Ireland.”

Their plan highlights the current plight of motor racing in the country, but will this be enough to fill the grids and make this spectrum of the sport popular with the fans to the extent it enjoyed over a decade ago. Formula Opel was hugely attractive up until the late 1990s and it is reasonable to claim that the sport has never really filled the void. Formula Ireland, despite all its promotion, was a failure.

Indeed, Formula Renault should have taken over as the premier series rather than flirting with Formula Ireland.

The winner of the 2012 Dunlop Sexton Trophy will receive an award worth €50,000. He/she will have the use of a competitive race prepared Formula Ford for use in Ireland, the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch and the Silverstone Walter Hayes Memorial Trophy. The car will be maintained and run by Bernard Dolan Race team with Mick Merrigan as driver coach/mentor.

The 2012 winner must hold a current valid Motorsport Ireland competition licence and must be under 23 years of age on January 1. In addition, the winner must be competing in a Motorsport Ireland championship during the year of the award.

Sinclair agreed with the suggestion of increasing the bursaries for both the Coleman award and the Sexton Trophy to €100,000 by changing the system to alternative years. A prize fund of €100,000 would be far more meaningful, it may also help to bring racing back on track.

According to Sinclair, the Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver of the Year award is also being reviewed by a range of stakeholders and the possibility of seeking a sponsor has not been ruled out.

The appointment of Mayo’s Tom Walsh as an advisor/mentor is due to be formalised.

Dubliner Robert Barrable has the opportunity to upgrade to a 2012 specification Skoda Fabia but must take up the option before the end of the first week of January next.

Currently working on a sponsorship package that will enable the former Billy Coleman award winner tackle a number of events in the IRC, his current car is up for sale.

However, should he fail to sell, he will upgrade his current car.

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