Another blow for the Irish Tarmac Championship

After overcoming the loss of the Galway International Rally, organisers of the Irish Tarmac Championship (the TROA) have now been forced to terminate their contract with its title sponsor Dance To Tipperary.

Another blow for the Irish Tarmac Championship

Last November, the London based music collective agreed a three-year deal with the TROA that also included co-production and distribution partner for its TV and media feeds.

However, it appears that this arrangement is now over although the TROA have yet to issue a statement.

The Irish Examiner understands that the TROA were unhappy for some time and that certain deadlines were not met and it had no option but to end the contract.

A release in recent days about the current championship made no reference to Dance To Tipperary and the DTP logo is no longer on the TROA website.

It seems unlikely that a replacement sponsor will be found before the opening round in Clonakilty in four weeks time.

Meanwhile Sunday’s Great National Abbey Court Hotel Nenagh Rally has attracted a strong top ten that includes several Tarmac and National champions.

Not in the Triton series due to the biennial rotational system, the Nenagh event struggled for entries until a plea from organisers saw an increase to around 70 crews - still not enough generate a break-even situation.

Former winner Donegal’s Donagh Kelly (Ford Focus WRC) is the top seed. As it’s his first outing in the car since he rolled out of the Clare Rally last September he will be aiming to get on the pace as he targets an unprecedented fifth straight win in the West Cork Rally in mid-March.

Another former winner of the Birr club’s event, Donegal’s Declan Boyle (Ford Fiesta WRC) is also in shakedown mode – he is returning to the Triton series again and knows that reliability is a key factor as he’s struggled over the last 18 months.

Fermanagh’s Garry Jennings (Subaru WRC) adds greatly to the mix and will push right from the first of the six stages. For former Triton champion Clonmel’s Roy White the rally will offer an indication of what pace is required ahead of another national campaign.

Having switched from his Skoda Fabia R5 to a Mini WRC, Donegal’s Joe McGonigle is another on a test exercise and given the opposition he has the perfect barometer for comparisons.

Also in the top ten are Monaghan’s Stephen Wright (Fiesta R5) and Tyrone’s Paddy McVeigh in the ex-Patrick Elliott S11 Subaru WRC.

Limerick’s Ed O’Callaghan spearheads the two-wheel drive category where former Billy Coleman award winner Stuart Darcy (Darrian T90) could spring a surprise.

Meanwhile, in Group N Dunmanway’s David Guest (Mitsubishi) is the leading light with fellow Mitsubishi drivers Brian O’Keeffe and Tom Cahill amongst his opposition.

Others on the entry are Dunmanway’s Jason McSweeney (Mitsubishi), Limerick’s Sean Liston (BMW E30) and Clare’s Padraig Egan (Subaru).

The rally is a counting round of the Top Part West Coast Rally Championship and the Midland East Rally Championship.

The first stage gets underway at 10am, servicing is after stages 2 and 5 with the finish at the Great National Abbey Court Hotel scheduled for 3.30pm.

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