Jake Byrne quits young driver of the year programme

Racing driver Jake Byrne has abandoned his Motorsport Ireland Young Driver of the Year programme with immediate effect after it appears he is unhappy with his UK Formula Ford campaign - the prize for winning the prestigious award.

The Kildare driver announced on Wednesday that he was withdrawing from the award scheme and as a result he will not compete at Rockingham this weekend.

He said: “I feel I have no choice. I have had issues from day one and I have had a few meetings and there were some suggested solutions but unfortunately none of these have materialised. My only alternative is to withdraw from the prize drive. I don’t feel the support I was promised was forthcoming and I will now reconsider my options going forward for 2016.”

The prize is worth €50,000.

Motorsport Ireland is to review the vacant position before making an announcement. It’s unclear if the move will have consequences for the future running of the scheme or whether the Sports Council will have an involvement.

Meanwhile, large grids are expected at the MEC two-day event at the Mondello Park International track tomorrow and Sunday.

The Procraft Tools Fiesta series has two rounds tomorrow.

The Formula Vee championship makes its Mondello Park seasonal debut while there is also racing for the Tool Dynamics Supercars, SEAT Supercup Ireland and the Teng Tools Irish Touring Car Championships.

Ex-Motorsport Ireland International Racing Driver of the Year Jonathan Fildes makes his debut in the SEAT Supercup Ireland series and will join title favourites Erik Holstein and Rob Butler.

In rallying, Antrim’s Derek McGarrity (Fiesta WRC) heads the entry for tomorrow’s Modern Tyres Mourne Rally in Newry.

The nine-stage event is the fourth round of the McGrady Insurance Northern Ireland Rally Championship.

The entry of almost 80 competitors also includes Damian Toner (Sunbeam), the Escorts of Davy Armstrong, Camillus Bradley and Alastair Cochrane and Martin Toner (Sunbeam).

Elsewhere, Sunday’s Heartland’s Rally in Portlaoise has almost 100 entries with three former winners in the line-up.

Winner of the first event in 2011, Carlow’s David Condell (Ford Escort) is the number one seed and will be followed off the start line by Limerick’s Ed O’Callaghan, who won two years ago.

Both will be pressed hard by Cavan ace Chris Armstrong (Ford Escort). George Condell (Toyota Starlet) will have designs on repeating his success of 2013. Others in the top six are the Escort pair of Meath’s Trevor Mulligan (Escort) and Kilkenny’s Enda O’Brien (Escort).

Donegal’s PJ McDermott in his S9 Subaru WRC and Cashel’s Pat O’Connell (Mitsubishi) are also in the top ten.

Donegal driver James Cullen (Ford Escort) is using the six-stage rally as a shakedown for next week’s Joule Donegal International Rally. Based at O’Loughlin’s Hotel, the first car away is at 10.40am.

Following their inaugural Hillclimb last year, the Imokilly Motor Club have attained national status as they host the fifth and sixth rounds of the Naylor Engineering National Hillclimb & Sprint Championship tomorrow and Sunday.

The club will use the 2.2km Sweep in Dungarvan that is probably one of the oldest and best-known courses. Both events are underpinned by Pat & Jason Ryan Motors Youghal.

The World Rally Championship continues with Rally Italia Sardegna this weekend.


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