Cork racing ace Matt Griffin opens his competitive season this afternoon in the Hankook 24 Hour of Dubai with the Dragon Racing Team.
The former Motorsport Ireland International Racing Driver of the Year winner teams up with the UAE-based outfit for the third time in is his career.
Along with Britons John Hartshorne and Alex Kapadia and Kuwaiti Kahled Al Mudhaf, he will pilot the No. 888 Ferrari 458 GT3 in the Pro-Am category.
Griffin is upbeat, having finished third overall last year and won the Pro-Am category: “It is one of my favourite races and it’s great to be back with Dragon Racing,” he said.
Griffin is facing yet another busy year with the Blancpain Endurance Series and the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) on his itinerary.
He will also tackle Le Mans for the fifth consecutive year. With three new teammates this weekend he knows it will be difficult.
“Kahled was part of the winning team here two years ago. As 24 Hour races go it is a really tough one. The heat is a big issue as it can get up to 60 degrees (Celsius) in the car.”
Tomorrow night’s round four of the Motorsport Ireland National Navigation Trial Championship, the Cork 1000 Shakes Navigation Trial, will feature some 80 miles of terrain to the west of Macroom. Based at the Macroom Golf Club, it is also round three of the Munster series.
In national terms, reigning champions Pakie Duffy/Evin Hughes from Longford and Monaghan respectively face a number of County Cork crews that will be aiming to dominate.
The West Cork crew of Dermot Whelton/Mark McCarthy (Subaru) are second overall just three points behind Duffy/Hughes.
Munster leaders and fellow Cork crew Donal Healy/Denis O’Donovan (Toyota Starlet) are another pair that should give a good account of themselves.
Some seven miles of the route that is based on Ordnance Survey Sheets 79 and 86 is on non-tarmac surface and that could have a bearing on proceedings. The first car away is at 11pm.
The weekend’s double-header in the Hewison Autotest Championship is promoted by the Carrick on Suir Motor Club and will take place in Waterford tomorrow and Sunday.
After the opening eight rounds, Steven Ferguson (Mini Special) has a four-point advantage over Robin Lyons (Mini) with multi champion Eamonn Byrne three points further behind.
The Autosport International at the NEC in Birmingham that ends on Sunday is expected to attract some 85,000 visitors across the weekend.
Antrim’s Desi Henry has acquired a Skoda Fabia R5 and will tackle the opening rounds of the Irish Tarmac and British Rally Championships.
He took delivery of the car on Tuesday last, and will be co-driven by Millstreet’s Liam Moynihan.
Welsh World Rally Championship competitor Elfyn Evans will compete in the revamped BRC with the DMACK British Rally Team.
Evans will team up with Max Vatanen – in DMACK’s twinned assault onboard the latest-specification Ford Fiesta R5.
Evans will dovetail his BRC outings with his WRC2 duties for M-Sport. Both of the duo’s parents, Ari Vatanen (1976) and Gwyndaf Evans (1996) are former British Rally champions.
Pacenotes Rally Magazine has stepped in to sponsor the Kirkistown Rally (February 13), the opening round of this year’s McGrady Insurance Northern Ireland Rally Championship!
Irish Touring Car racing driver Garreth Hayden is to serve a 15-month ban for committing an anti-doping rule violation. In a doping control test immediately following his participation at the Irish Touring Car Championship in Mondello Park, he provided a sample that tested positive for the presence of a prohibited substance, Benzoylecgonine (a metabolite of cocaine).
Mr. Hayden’s results from June 7, 2015 are also disqualified. The ban commenced on July 6, the date on which he was provisionally suspended by Motorsport Ireland.
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