The timing of a press release from the Donegal Motor Club on Wednesday lunchtime stating its intention to continue as part of the Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Championship is hugely surprising.
The club’s decision to withdraw from the series (that was based on the move to confine the overall Tarmac award to R5 cars) was accepted by the Tarmac Rally Organisers Association (TROA), who oversee the championship.
The Donegal club’s announcement that represents a U-turn seems to have a number of inaccuracies. First, their return to the series can only be sanctioned by the TROA of which Donegal are a member. It appears Donegal will have to formally re-apply for ITC status and that was not discussed at a TROA meeting on Wednesday evening.
The Donegal press release states that the club “could not support the changes to the points scoring system and the effective banning of WRC cars from the series.” While the WR cars cannot win the series in 2016, they have not been banned from the ITC.
The press release also states that the TROA change is to “be a matter for ongoing discussion, which we will address at future TROA meetings.”
According to TROA chairman David Gray and as reported in The Irish Examiner several weeks ago, the TROA decision on the 2016 series is final.
The Donegal organisers said it was “in the interests of the unity of the sport” that it wants to continue in the ITC.
The Irish Examiner understands that the next TROA meeting is not scheduled until October when the 2016 series will be launched in Mondello Park, in the meantime and contrary to the press release, the Donegal International Rally is not part of the 2016 series.
Meanwhile, as that saga continues, the Triton Showers National Rally Championship is at its penultimate stage on Sunday where the Galway Summer Rally has attracted huge entries in both the main event and the Junior category.
Indeed, there are some 208 crews seeded in the main rally with 141 eligible to start under the championship rules. Donegal’s Declan Boyle (Ford Fiesta WRC), the top seed is favourite for event victory, newly crowned Triton champion Donagh Kelly is an absentee as the chase for second and third overall intensifies between Monaghan’s Niall Maguire, Castleisland’s Alan Ring and Clonmel’s Roy White.
Maguire is in pole position but with dropped scores taken into consideration there is only five points covering the trio.
A regular in last year’s series Welsh ace Steve Wood (Subaru) is amongst the top ten that also includes the Subaru WRC’s of Kevin Barrett, Paddy McVeigh and Peadar Hurson. Monaghan’s Daniel McKenna will have his first outing in a Ford Fiesta R5 and top Group N contender Aidan Wray (Mitsubishi EvoX) can edge closer to claiming the Motorsport Safety showroom title. In the Modified category Declan Gallagher (Toyota Starlet) should set the pace.
Elsewhere, those lucky enough to secure places are Trevor Bustard, Shane Maguire, Pat Kirk and Neil Tohill, all in Mitsubishi Evo IX’s and Paul Barrett (Subaru) and Kilkenny’s Joe Connolly (Ford Fiesta R5).
The first stage near Athenry starts at 10.04am.
The Czech Rally Zlin, round seven of the European Rally Championship begins this evening.
Craig Breen is aiming to cut the five points deficit on leader Polish driver Kajetan Kajetanowicz (Ford Fiesta R5). Jan Kopecky (Skoda Fabia R5) is the top seed. Northern Ireland’s Jon Armstrong (Peugeot 208 R2), who has Killarney’s Noel O’Sullivan in the co-drivers seat are also competing.
Donagh Kelly (Ford Focus WRC) and Mel Evans (Subaru WRC) are amongst the early entries for the Acesigns Cork “20” International Rally.
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